Neurosurgeons are very skilled and highly trained surgeons who specialize in the treatment of medical disorders that affect the nervous system – brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. Their line of work involves everything from diagnosing to treating patients who have strokes, brain infections, degenerative spinal issues, brain tumors and more. Aside from offering treatments, neurosurgeons, as their name implies, also perform surgical procedures. If you’re thinking about becoming a neurosurgeon, you’re probably wondering about how much money you’ll make. Let’s take a quick look at the average neurosurgeon salary, as well as discuss the extensive training one has to undergo to be able to perform procedures on their own.
What is the Average Neurosurgeon Salary?
Neurosurgeon salaries vary greatly based on experience and place of employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for physicians and surgeons in 2018 was equal to or greater than $208,000 per year. However, the top 10% of all neurosurgeons in the United States can earn up to $1,229,881 a year. Keep in mind that neurosurgeons are some of the highest paid medical professionals in the country, due to their residency requirements and their extensive education.
The average neurosurgeon salary is around $355,034/year. It is a general rule that pay for neurosurgeons rises steadily for more experienced medical professionals, but eventually goes down for neurosurgeons with more than two decades of experience.
Also, payment can vary based on the degree of specialization. The MGMA identified pediatric neurosurgery in a 2013 survey as being the third-highest paying surgical specialty. Back then, the average neurosurgeon salary in pediatrics was $643,188/year. The other two medical professions that earn more than pediatric neurosurgery are non-pediatric neurosurgery ($767,627 a year) and pediatric cardiovascular surgery ($762,846).
Neurosurgeon Salaries by State and City
According to PayScale, the highest paid neurosurgeons earn as much as $777,000 per year and the lowest paid neurosurgeons earn less than $116,000 every year. The top 5 best paying states for neurosurgeons are Illinois, California, New York, Texas, and Massachusetts. When it comes to the top five paying cities for neurosurgeons, things aren’t too different. These include Houston, Texas; San Francisco, California; Boston, Massachusetts; Los Angeles, California; and Seattle, Washington.
As mentioned, the average neurosurgeon salary depends on geographical location and can vary from state to state. For example, Illinois is one of the best–paying states for neurosurgeons. A medical professional in Illinois will make between $140,000 and $713,157 a year. Those in New York will earn salaries that range from $96,958 to $695,305 annually and neurosurgeons in Massachusetts will earn between $182,968 and $670,195 a year in general.
Neurosurgeons based in Texas make between $196,527 and $406,946 a year, while those in Florida are paid between $60,402 and $695,305 annually. Neurosurgeons employed in North Carolina earn annual salaries in the range from $97,211 to $407,241 a year and those in California earn between $73,404 and $612,772 annually.
The salary of a neurosurgeon also varies from city to city. For example, neurosurgeons who work in Miami will make between $225,000 and $466,847 every year, and those who are employed in Chicago will earn between $127,743 and $691,808 a year. Neurosurgeons based in New York can earn anywhere from $98,633 to $685,100 a year and those in Boston are paid between $182,968 and $670,195 a year. Neurosurgeons from Los Angeles report an income ranging from $245,659 to $508,682.
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Starting Pay for Neurosurgeons
The average salary for an entry-level neurosurgeon with less than one year of professional experience ranges from $60,000 to $305,209 per year, including profit sharing and bonuses. These bonuses amass to around $17,500 every year.
Wondering about the salary perks mostly associated with neurosurgery? They include, but are not limited to 401k plans, liability and malpractice insurance, as well as paid vacations and holidays. Yearly bonuses are also generally a given in this line of work.
The benefits packages can reflect the annual salaries of neurosurgeons. Neurosurgeons who receive a 401k match earn typically between $81,500 and $684,886 every year. Those who get paid vacations and holidays earn between $88,000 to $680,000 per year. And, those who have liability or malpractice insurance earn salaries that range between $102,129 to $693,662 annually.
Medical professionals who have life and disability insurance as part of their benefits have salaries ranging between $67,500 and $647,519 per year. Neurosurgeons who get paid sick leave are given wages between $48,430 and $659,314 a year, and those who have private medical insurance earn salaries in the range from $147,949 to $689,298.
What is a Neurosurgeon’s Job Description?
You may wonder what neurosurgeons actually do? As mentioned at the beginning of our article, a neurosurgeon is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and evaluation of neurological conditions. For a doctor to be called a neurosurgeon, they must be board certified. In general, a neurosurgeon’s job description involves working as part of a team of specialized doctors in health care facilities and in hospitals. Neurosurgeons will also teach medical students and are expected to oversee medical residents (this happens mostly if the neurosurgeon works in a teaching hospital).
Neurosurgeons are also required to evaluate patients that might or might not have neurological conditions and need to be able to make a positive or negative diagnosis and administer treatment when the situation requires. This means that if surgical procedures are needed, the neurosurgeon needs to perform them personally.
A neurosurgeon will more often than not interact with their patients regularly. This is vital in making a diagnosis and establishing a course of treatment. It is also the neurosurgeon’s job to keep the patient informed about the course of their disease and treatment.
Tasks of a Neurosurgeon
- Track and document diagnoses, medications, treatments, and various other health data.
- Talk about outcomes and various courses of actions with patients and also assist them in deciding what to choose.
- Perform surgical procedures, for treatment and exploratory.
- Supervise residents and teach medical students.
- Evaluate test results, interview patients and diagnose conditions.
How Does One Become a Neurosurgeon?
Neurosurgeons have to graduate four years of medical school, then undergo a general surgery internship. Once that’s done, the medical professional will enter a neurosurgical residency program. These last about seven years and involve extensive training that covers everything from trauma to pediatrics to vascular surgery. As a result, the overall training can last about 15 years – after which the neurosurgeon will be able to perform procedures on their own. Once established, the neurosurgeon can take the American Board of Neurological Surgery examination to receive board certification.
Do I Have What It Takes to Become a Neurosurgeon?
If the extensive training doesn’t scare you, you’re already on the right track. The work is very high-pressure and demanding, so you need to have a lot of ambition and perseverance. Neurosurgeons work irregular, long hours, and are often required to travel to care for different patients. The ability to cope well under stress is a must.
Additionally, a desire to learn is mandatory. A neurosurgeon’s education is never over – there are always new treatments and procedures in development. To be on top of your game, you will need to keep up with advancements in the medical field.
Finally, the work involves dealing with patients. You need plenty of empathy and patience, as well as an excellent bedside manner. Regardless of what binge-watching House M.D. may have taught you, treating patients with respect is a must for any medical professional.
Neurosurgeons undergo extensive training and work long hours in a high-pressure environment, often to the detriment of their personal lives. As a result, the average neurosurgeon salary is high enough to ensure proper compensation. While things may not look particularly bright immediately after graduating from medical school, once the medical professional has some years of experience under their belt, the money will follow.
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