What is a Neurosurgeon
A neurosurgeon (also known as Brain Surgeon) is a health care specialist primarily focused on the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system (including the brain, spinal chord, and peripheral nerves) through the use of surgical methods. This can include surgery for vascular disorders, degenerative spinal diseases, and traumatic brain injuries. For more information on what it takes to be a neurosurgeon, please visit our neurosurgeon job description page.
Neurosurgeons work in a highly stressful field. Their work is a deciding factor in a patient’s health and wellbeing, and indeed a life and recovery hangs in their care, and often their speed. Due to the delicate nature of the nervous system, neurosurgeons can spend long periods in surgery, as long as twelve to eighteen hours.
Patience, organization, and steady motor skills are exceptionally important; as they work with exposed spines and brains, there is a great deal of pressure on the individual. They do work with a small team of nurses and anesthetists, but the position itself is demanding.
As mentioned, the working conditions for a neurosurgeon can be quite stressful. On top of that, work hours can be long, with some weeks exceeding 60 hours of work. Neurosurgeons must be on call with some regularity, as the potential for a severe injury to the nervous system is relatively high in modern society. Therefore, irregular hours can be expected for patient treatment and evaluation.
Median Annual Neurosurgeon Salary
The median annual neurosurgeon salary is $528,514. Individuals who fall in the lowest 10% of all neurosurgeons can expect to make less than $281,084 each year whereas others with more experience in the top 10% can reach more than $789,441 annually. Their salaries are among the highest of all health care jobs and even among physicians.
Neurosurgeon Salary: Quick Summary
|2012 Median Salary||$528,514 per year
$254.09 per hour
|Top 10% Salary||$789,441 per year
$379.54 per hour
|Bottom 10% Salary||$281,084 per year
$135.14 per hour
|Number of Jobs, 2012||691,400 (All Physicians)|
Neurosurgeon Job Outlook and Prospects
Neurosurgery is one of the most sought after specialties in hospitals, along with orthopedics and cardiology. As such, the job prospects for neurosurgeons are quite promising, with demand expected to grow in the coming years but upwards of 24 percent.
Employment of neurosurgeons grew by nearly 25% from 2005-2010. Anticipated demographics are therefore expected to keep demand for neurosurgeons high, and the outlook for those wishing to pursue neurosurgery is excellent.
What Affects a Neurosurgeon’s Salary
The main factors affecting the salary of a neurosurgeon are those that affect many health care professionals; namely experience, reputation, and region worked.
Neurosurgeon salaries increase with experience; a new graduate will have a comparatively smaller salary than a veteran, but as they learn and hone their skills, their salary will increase.
Coupled with this, reputation is a large factor as well; those who have spent more time treating patients, and who have done so with great success, gain a reputation of being at the top of their field; as such, they can expect salary increases, or receive offers from more prestigious working areas.
The average salary for a neurosurgeon in the United States is approximately $528,514 (not including bonuses). The best states are Wyoming, Wisconsin, and Washington, with Tennessee and South Dakota ranking quite highly as well.
Education and Specialization
Training for neurosurgeons can be more intensive than that for other medical professionals, with some internships and residencies lasting as long as 8 years. While this is due to the greater skill set and knowledge base needed for the position, it also warrants a higher-than-average salary.
Furthermore, neurosurgery, as a specialty in and of itself, allows for sub-specialization in several areas, including neuro-oncology, cerebrovascular neurosurgery, and gamma knife surgery, among others; expertise in these subspecialties also leads to salary increases.
Experience and Position
Experience is a definitive factor in determining neurosurgeon salary. While the lower end of starting salaries runs around $280,000, an experienced neurosurgeon can earn more than $800,000.
Neurosurgery is divided into two main options for employment: those working in hospitals and health care centers, and those self-employed in a private practice. Many of those in a private practice, however, are receiving short-term contracts with hospitals, covering for doctors on leave or on extended absence. This leads many with private practices to receive increased salaries.
Many neurosurgeons also engage in teaching at a university, a further source of income.
The highest salaries are earned in the states already mention, primarily in Wyoming, Washington, and Wisconsin. The best paying cities, however, are in Nashua, New Hampshire; Portland, Maine; Worcester, Massachusetts; and Waterbury, Connecticut. Demographic demand is the principle factor in locational differences for neurosurgeon salary.