The Society of Thoracic Surgeons lists heart disease as one of the top causes of death in the U.S. With such an obvious need for cardiovascular surgeons, the job security, financial rewards and personal satisfaction should be enough to make anyone entering medical school consider specializing in this area.
The median salary for a heart surgeon varies, depending on where she works and her years of experience. Surgeons located in large cities tend to make more than rural surgeons. The median is $296,148, with an hourly average of $93. Surgeons who are just starting out can expect to make over $100,000 while those with up to four years of experience can earn between $120,000 to $300,000. Most experienced surgeons earn over $400,00 per year.
According to the BLS, surgeons should see job growth of 24 percent through 2020, a faster than average increase. An aging population, coupled with heart problems caused by obesity and lifestyle, should ensure a steady supply of patients for heart surgeons. If a cardiovascular surgeon is willing to set up practice in a rural area, he'll find even more demand.
Cutting Edge Technology
Given the complexity of heart surgery and the healing time involved, the field is continuously improving techniques and equipment. Surgery is becoming less invasive and robotics are being experimented with as an even less invasive technique. Dr. Lawrence Burr, a cardiovascular surgeon, states in an article for the College Foundation of North Carolina that, "New ideas and techniques are constantly being implemented into one's daily routine, so there is always progress being made."
A Helping Hand
Becoming a cardiovascular surgeon is about more than just taking someone's life in your hands -- it's about enhancing the quality of someone's life. The surgeon is usually the last stop for someone who has exhausted all other options and using your knowledge to be able to turn despair into even faint hope can be personally rewarding. Helping someone live a better life -- like fixing a baby's faulty valve -- brings both personal and professional satisfaction.
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.
- Society of Thoracic Surgeons: Become a Cardiothoracic Surgeon
- Healthcare Salaries: Heart Surgeon
- State University: Heart Surgeon
- BLS: Physicians and Surgeons
- College Foundation of North Carolina: Cardiovascular Surgeon Interviews
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Physicians and Surgeons
- Career Trend: Physicians and Surgeons
- Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images