The average surgeon salary in the United States is $247,520 per year. In Canada, surgeons average C$420,484 ($310,467 USD). Salaries for surgeons range between 26,350 ($32,699 USD) and 125,000 ($155,098 USD) in the United Kingdom and AU$98,487 ($72,807 USD) and AU$322,146 ($238,180 USD). In Switzerland, surgeons average annual earnings of CHF420,000 ($416,687 USD), while those in Norway make on average NOK919,200 per year ($107,462 USD).
Read below the factors shaping surgeons’ pay, how surgeons obtain experience, the work hours and prospects for employment.
Surgeon Salary Influencers
The type of healthcare system in a particular country determines how fees and compensation for surgeons are set. Other influencers of pay include experience, the specialty of surgical practice and whether the surgeon is in private practice or the public sector.
In the United States, private insurers generally compensate surgeons and other medical providers for their services. Patients who qualify may have surgeries paid by government programs such as Medicare. For surgeons who work under single-payor systems in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Norway and Switzerland, governments typically determine rates of pay, bonuses and other compensation.
The specialty in which a surgeon practices can also influence earnings.
2. Geographical Area
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Surgeon Salary in the US
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, as of May 2015, surgeons made on average $247,520 per year. At least three-fourths had salaries of at least $187,200 per year. According to the Medical Group Management Association, one-half of general surgeons made more than $395,456 as of 2014.
According to the Canadian Medical Association, general surgeons grossed on average clinical earnings of C$420,484 per year. Salaries may differ by specialty. For example, the average among cardiovascular/thoracic surgeons stood at C$475,337 per year in 2013-2014. Orthopedic surgeons earned on average C$400,391.
Surgeon Salary in the UK
Surgeons in the National Health Service are paid between £26,350 and £102,500 per year. For a surgeon, pay depends upon experience. Doctors in training, otherwise known as starters, earn between £26,350 and £45,750. For specialty doctors, or experienced, the salary runs from £37,500 to £70,000. Those in the highly experienced category, called consultants, make from £76,000 to £125,000. Surgeons in private practice may earn more.
Surgeon Salary in Australia
PayScale states general surgeons in Australia averaged earnings of AU$176,352 per year. Accounting for salaries, bonuses and overtime, pay for general surgeons range between AU$98,487 and AU$322,146. For orthopedic surgeons, the average pay is AU$202,523 per year and the range is AU$101,401 to AU$537,318.
Surgeon Salary in Switzerland
According to PayScale, general surgeons in Switzerland earn on average CHF 420,000 per year.
Surgeon Salary in Norway
Statistics Norway reports that physicians in the private health and social services sector earned on average NOK76,600 per month, as of 2014. In the “Health Enterprises” sector, the average monthly salary for physicians is NOK 69,200.
Upon completion of medical school, surgeons must complete multi-year residence training programs. Surgeons in the United States usually have three to seven years in residency. In the United Kingdom, aspiring surgeons undergo two years of general physician training, two years of core surgical training and up to six years in a specialty. For would-be surgeons in Canada, residency training lasts five or six years depending on the school selected. During the training, residents must log 36 months of general surgical rounds.
In Switzerland, surgeons gain experience through six years of training. At least four years involve general surgery; the candidate must spend at least two years in university hospitals or “A” years and at least one year in a smaller hospital. Training includes a maximum of two years in surgical specialties and two years of research.
Surgeons work full time, often exceeding 40 hours per week. According to the Canadian Medical Association, the average work week of general surgeons consumed over 54 hours. Cardiovascular/thoracic surgeons in Canada worked an average of nearly 70 hours per week. Surgeons in Australia spent on average nearly 49 hours per week on the job. The National Health Service says surgeons work on average 48 hours a week.
Shifts for surgeons often prove irregular. As hospitals remain open 24 hours per day and seven days per week, surgeons can expect to be needed nights, predawn hours, weekends and holidays as well as traditional 9 to 5 periods. Emergency surgeries occasioned by sudden illnesses, accidents or criminal activity require surgeons to be available during non-office hours. Depending on the number and complexity of procedures, a surgeon might work 12 hours or more at a single time.
Bonuses & Benefit Packages
Within single-payer countries, the governing authority may award or offer bonuses to surgeons based on certain factors. For example, in Canada, surgeons may obtain signing bonuses for working in rural areas or employing efficient techniques. Certain Australian states pay bonuses to emergency general surgeons. In the United States, bonuses typically are determined by the employer.
As to benefits, in the United Kingdom, surgeons in the National Health Service can draw pension starting at 55 years old. In Switzerland, employees in the health sector receive at least four weeks of holiday pay per year. A three-pillar system affords retirement benefits for employees in Switzerland. The first two pillars require participation and are intended to provide 60 percent of the employee’s salary. Salaried surgeons in Norway have their work benefits defined by their employers. In addition, Norwegian law affords employees the right to pensions, holiday pay, insurance and leave of absence.
As a general rule, surgeons should have solid prospects for employment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of surgeons should grow by 20 percent, or by 9,100, from 2014 to 2024. The Australian government projects up to 5,000 job openings for surgeons through November 2019, with employment expected to grow “very strongly.”
The demand for surgeons drives employment prospects. Factors such as longer life spans and access to health care help drive demand. Due to small numbers of entrants into the field, countries such as the United Kingdom and Norway face doctor shortages.
Location of practice can mold a surgeon’s pay, especially if the country operates a single-payer system. In such countries, surgeons can earn bonuses for meeting surgical standards, working in a particular area or offering certain surgical services. Entering a surgical specialty, such as neurological, orthopedic or cardiac surgery, can enhance the salary of a specialized surgeon.