Career Overview for Becoming an OB-GYN

You would perform sonograms for pregnant women as an OB/GYN.
i Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images
You would perform sonograms for pregnant women as an OB/GYN.

If you're interested in a medical career, you could find a future along with the 20,540 OB/GYNs who were working as of May 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. OB/GYN stands for obstetrician/gynecologist. These are medical doctors who specialize in the female reproductive system, and care for pregnant mothers before, during and after delivery. It takes lots of patience, empathy, people skills and manual dexterity to succeed in this field.

Job Description

You would diagnose and treat female disorders and diseases as an OB/GYN. These conditions can include cervical and breast cancer, hormonal imbalances, adolescent ailments and menopause. Your day could include studying a patient's chart and determining what examinations should be scheduled. While working with pregnant women and new mothers, you would advise them on proper nutrition and care for their infants. Your responsibilities would also include doing sonograms, which show images of the babies. Additionally, you would prescribe medications for ailments such as urinary tract or yeast infections and sexually transmitted diseases.

Work Environment

Expect to work in a physician's office, hospital or clinic as an OB/GYN. Whichever venue you are working, the environment would be clean and sterile. You would work long hours, including evenings and weekends. And the job can be highly stressful, because lives are at stake. Early in your career, you may be on rotation shifts, meaning your hours could change each week.

Education and Training

Your first step in becoming an OB/GYN is obtaining a bachelor's degree in biology or some related science. You would then attend medical school for four years, earning an M.D. in obstetrics and gynecology. A one-year internship would likely follow, and then you'd spend three to seven years in a residency program. OB/GYNs must also be licensed in their states. Additionally, you may consider becoming certified in special areas such as critical care, gynecologic oncology and hospice -- treating the terminally ill.

Salary Ranges

As an OB/GYN, your average annual salary would be $218,610, according to the BLS. The lowest-paid 10 percent made just under $116,420 per year. As for employers, you could earn the most working in a physician's office at $224,000. The average salary in clinics and hospitals were $218,810 and $200,700 per year, respectively. And the top-paying states are Idaho and Wyoming, where you'd make $250,630 and $247,700 per year, respectively. Your salary in Alabama would be the same as Wyoming -- $247,700.

Job Outlook

The BLS reported that jobs for physicians and surgeons, including OB/GYNs, are expected to increase 24 percent between 2010 and 2020. This rate of growth is faster than the national average of 14 percent. Job growth will be spurred by the growing demand for health care, especially in areas with high population growth.

2016 Salary Information for Physicians and Surgeons

Physicians and surgeons earned a median annual salary of $204,950 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, physicians and surgeons earned a 25th percentile salary of $131,980, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $261,170, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 713,800 people were employed in the U.S. as physicians and surgeons.

the nest