Becoming a heart surgeon is a rewarding career for many reasons: acquiring great knowledge and skills in the domain of health care; becoming an important resource in caring for others; and, typically, an excellent salary and remuneration package including benefits. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics National Wage Data, wages for heart surgeons are among the highest of all professions, with median annual compensation of over $200,000 in 2010.
Heart surgeons must earn a degree, attend medical school and undergo a significant internship and training program. This can take 10 years or more if they survive the journey and begin their practice treating problems and diseases of the heart and cardiac concerns.
When they complete their education and training, new surgeons can expect an entry-level salary in the $58,000 to $90,000 range. This can increase significantly over the first few years, with some heart surgeons earning $300,000 to $400,000 after only four years of experience.
Where You Practice Matters
There is a great range in salaries of heart surgeons from state to state. California, for example, is on the low end of the scale, paying out only $58,175 to $469,464; New York offers $57,674 to $510,594, while New Jersey skews higher at $150,000 to $550,000. Additionally, it is not uncommon to receive higher pay in towns or small cities where facilities must compete to bring in surgeons.
Return on Investment
The job outlook for heart surgeons is very promising, given factors such as an aging population and increased health-care related industries. Growth in job opportunities is anticipated in the range of 20 percent to 25 percent between 2010 and 2020, faster than national averages for all occupations at approximately 14 percent.
Benefits and Bonuses
Heart surgeons typically earn full benefits, whether they work for a private practice or other organization; on rare occasions, they may earn performance bonuses as well. As with many other professions, the salary is somewhat determined by the volume of work performed, in this case, procedures and surgeries, or other professional duties such as teaching. Many surgeons work 50 to 60 hours or more, as well as being on call, to maximize their earning potential.
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.
Michael Firth has been writing professionally since 2000. He served as Ask the Expert blogger on CollegeRecruiter.com and self-published "The JobFind & Professional Profile Guide." Firth holds Bachelor of Education and Master of Arts in leisure and sports management from the University of British Columbia. He also holds an honors Bachelor of Arts in business administration from Trent University.