They gained notoriety when reality television showed plastic surgeons making over men and women for sport. However, not all plastic surgery is voluntary. Cosmetic work is voluntary in many instances, and it’s necessary for others. It might be common to misconstrue this type of doctor as one who provides facelifts to the rich and famous or who only works because the plastic surgeon salary is so impressive, but the job still requires a medical degree and many years of education and experience.
Plastic surgery is a niche. It’s a medical professional who works to restore, reconstruct, and repair the human body in a way that is evident from the exterior. While many doctors do work, that’s not visible to the naked eye, the work of a plastic surgeon is clear more often than not. It’s a life-changing career choice that allows you to change lives for the better whether someone is unhappy with their physical appearance as they age or they experienced trauma that left them with an unrecognizable reflection.
Job Description and Duties
A plastic surgeon salary is so high because it’s a job that requires an extensive knowledge of the human body. Many people assume plastic surgeons perform nose jobs, facelifts, and breast implants every day, but the job is much more complex than that. The duties of a plastic surgeon include repairing and reconstructing many body parts.
The body is a complicated system of nerves, muscles, tissues, and other organs, and a plastic surgeon must be able to navigate everything from a simple nose job for a man who wants a smaller nose to a complete overhaul of the extremities and face following a tragic accident or injury. Plastic surgeon salary scales are so high because this job requires extensive and precise knowledge. There is no room for error in the operating room.
A plastic surgeon must have experience and knowledge removing tumors, implanting materials within the human body, removing implantable materials from inside the human body, skin grafting, creating and repairing flaps, and transferring tissue. All of this must be done with minimal evidence on the outside, and each surgery must be performed with the utmost in precision and skill.
A plastic surgeon must learn to recognize every part of the body both inside and out, and they must learn how to cut, repair, replace, and regrow certain body parts when necessary. The job also requires making quick judgments and being confident in your medical choices. Anything can happen on an operating room table even when a person is under for a simple procedure, and you must be able to make judgment calls in a split second that might forever alter the course of a life. This job is only for those who have the strength to do this.
Education and Certifications
How to earn a plastic surgeon income requires understanding what it takes to become a plastic surgeon. Not only must you spend years in school and complete a residency, but you must also have the personality trait to handle such a delicate job. You must be strong, capable, and you must be able to make decisions that are educated and accurate in a high-stress situation. Your patients will come to you for advice on how to change their appearance, and you cannot be too shy to tell them if what they want will work or not. Your job is delicate, and you must be able to handle the high-stress of living life as a doctor of this nature.
The first step to becoming a plastic surgeon is to obtain your Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited university. Once you take the required courses to earn this degree, you must take and pass the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) before you’re accepted to medical school. You must also have letters of recommendation from your professors and mentors in college though this is not listed as a strict requirement. It’s highly recommended you obtain these letters as they make it more likely to gain acceptance into medical school.
Medical school comes next. You spend two years in a classroom setting after you complete your Bachelor’s Degree program. These classroom hours are all about the sciences. You must know everything there is to know about the human body. The second and final two years of medical school are reserved for clinical rotations. This allows you to work in a hospital setting with doctors in every department so you can determine which setting best suits you.
You earn your M.D. (Medical Doctor) degree following your fourth year of medical school, which is intense and difficult. Once you finish your M.D., you have two options. You can spend three years in a general surgery residency followed by three years in a plastic surgery residency, or you can take a 6-year integrated residency. The second option takes the same amount of time, but it allows you to be part of both residencies at the same time, which can help you develop skill and knowledge faster and more efficiently. You cannot work as a doctor until you are finished with your six-year residency program.
If you go into a specialty niche in the plastic surgery field, you will spend another year in a fellowship. For example, if you want to focus on craniofacial plastic surgery, you’ll spend a year working in a fellowship position with a top craniofacial plastic surgeon. This is the same for any specialty you choose. You are now 15 years into your medical education.
Licenses and Certification Requirements
You cannot work as a medical doctor without passing the United States Medical Licensing Exam. There are three parts, and you must pass each one to get a license to practice medicine. You can take this exam when you graduate from medical school.
As a plastic surgeon, you should consider an optional certification in plastic surgery. The American Board of Plastic Surgery offers certification. It’s not a requirement, but it makes you a more knowledgeable and desirable plastic surgeon when it’s time to find a job.
Plastic Surgeon Salary
The median annual plastic surgeon salary is approximately $260,232. It takes approximately 15 years of education, residency, and fellowship to begin a career as a plastic surgeon earning a plastic surgeon salary. This average plastic surgeon salary amount is a combination of the average high and low annual pay for plastic surgeons across the country, but there are many factors that play into what you get paid as a plastic surgeon.
Location is everything. A plastic surgeon who works in a larger city with a higher median income in every household is going to make more than a plastic surgeon in a small town where the poverty level is high. People in larger cities such as New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas are more likely to opt for plastic surgery than the people who live in Des Moines.
Those who own their own practice are more likely to earn more than someone who doesn’t. The average plastic surgeon salary is higher in private practice because doctors get to make money off of other doctors, surgeries, and procedures performed even when someone else is doing the work on their behalf. Owning a surgery center or working for a major hospital can make the difference in a lower income and higher income as a plastic surgeon.
The average plastic surgeon salary is higher for those who have experience on the job. The longer you work as a plastic surgeon, the more people recommend you to their friends and family. You earn a reputation if your work is good. Many people prefer to spend more to have their work done by someone who has been doing this job for many years rather than someone who is fresh out of medical school. Experience pays in the medical field.
The job of a plastic surgeon changes every day. One day might entail providing new noses and breasts to women who want to make it as models on Instagram, and another day it might be changing the life of a child who was badly disfigured in a terrible accident. The job is never the same, and it’s one that comes with respect. It takes a long time to become a plastic surgeon, but the payoff is worthwhile. You earn a high plastic surgeon salary, your hours are more normal than those of a doctor who works in an emergency room or hospital, and you get to change lives.
If you are interested in becoming a plastic surgeon, now is the time to begin the process. Four years of college, four years of medical school, six years as a resident in a hospital, and another year in a fellowship program takes 15 years of your life. Getting started now is the best way to make the most of your career choice.