General surgeons are among the most highly compensated healthcare providers in the English-speaking world. Salaries average $258,000 in the United States, with that number reaching as high as C$400,000 in Canada. In New Zealand, a general surgeon salary can be as much as NZ$600,000 a year. In short, it is an incredible earning opportunity.
However, that high salary comes at a substantial cost in post-secondary training; many surgeons spend as many as 15 years learning their trade.
In the United States, a surgery residency is no less than five years, and that is after four years of college and four years of medical school. In this guide, we will look at the salaries and training requirements for general surgeons across the English-speaking world. While surgeons almost always make substantial amounts of money, we will see how location and other factors can influence the bottom line of paychecks.
How Much Does a General Surgeon Make?
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General Surgeon Salary Determinant Factors
As a general rule, general surgeons are well compensated for their time and training. A general surgeon salary tends to increase as the surgeon gains experience, and gain reach high numbers. For those pioneering new techniques, earnings can be even higher. As one might expect, private practices pay more than public, while urban pay is often higher than rural wages.
1. How Much Does General Surgeon Make by Country?
General Surgeon Salaries in US
General surgeons in the United States vary considerably based on experience, location, and the type of practice, but all tend to be quite generous. A general surgeon salary ranges from $120,000 to $400,000, but bonuses and profit sharing can double even the highest of those figures. That said, medical malpractice insurance in the United States tends to be among the most expensive globally, and especially impacts surgeons. As a result, much of those wages are spent for required insurance coverage.
General Surgeon Salaries in Canada
General surgeons in Canada may not make as much as their friends south of the border, coming in a range between 60,000 CAD and 400,000 CAD. However, it is vital to note that Canadian doctors do not have to pay the rather hefty malpractice premiums required of American doctors. As a result, that high salary of 400,000 CAD translates to substantially more take home pay.
General Surgeon Salaries in UK
The majority of general surgeons in the United Kingdom work for the National Health Service, which has standardized salaries. These range from around 76,000
GBP, but can reach well over 110,000 GBP for consultant surgeons. Additionally, private hospitals in the UK pay much more, and those earnings can be coupled with consultant pay for a more impressive bottom line.
General Surgeon Salary in Australia
General surgeons in Australia likewise make high salaries, ranging from 100,000 AUD to nearly 350,000 AUD. However, due to a public healthcare system, malpractice insurance is heavily subsidized, meaning that a higher portion of this figure is actual take home pay.
General Surgeon Salary in New Zealand
General surgeons in New Zealand make between 175,000 NZD and 600,000 NZD once they have completely qualified as surgeons. However, while that high figure does sound appealing, keep in mind that New Zealand does have one of the longest times to practice of any English-speaking country; post-secondary education for surgeons ranges from between 13 to 15 years in length.
2. How Much Does a General Surgeon Make According to Experience?
Put rather generally, the wages of a general surgeon start high and continue to grow. Experience helps general surgeons to make substantially more over the course of their careers for the first twenty years or so. After that, gains tend to taper off. By that point, many general surgeons have built substantial life savings, as well as gained other roles within the hospital, practice, or medical community at large. General surgeons often transition to becoming board members, medical school professors, or both, all while maintaining their own practice area.
While the term may be “general surgeon,” many practitioners specialize in ailments of the abdominal cavity, including the stomach, intestines, liver, and pancreas. General surgeons may also specialize in even more delicate operations, such as neurosurgery. As a result, they have plenty of opportunities to specialize their practices and gain recognition as experts. This in turn raises their earnings potential.
3. How Much Does a General Surgeon Make According to Work Environment?
Work environment greatly impacts the final earnings of a general surgeon. As one might expect, those working for private practices tend to earn more than those working for public providers, but that is not a hard and fast rule; a well-regarded general surgeon who is on the board of a public hospital will make much more than a moderately successful surgeon in private practice. Additionally, those working in areas with higher costs of living will make substantially more.
A general surgeon’s final earnings are also impacted by the hours that he or she works. Those willing to work non-traditional hours, such as nights and weekends, will have higher earnings potential, especially as their careers progress. Meanwhile, this will often be necessary of younger surgeons with little regard to extra wages.
While the wages of general surgeons are substantial, so too are the working hours. Very few will have simple nine to five schedules, outside of private practices that often pay much less. Instead, due to typical practice of scheduling surgery early so as to permit fewer overnight stays, many general surgeons will be up well before 4 am.
This does free up afternoons for stereotypical golf outings, but that time is often dominated by faculty meetings and board presentations. Additionally, many general surgeons will often have some form of teaching obligation as well.
Additionally, general surgeons who work in larger cities with more active emergency departments may find themselves working at night or over weekends and holidays. This disappears as the surgeon gains seniority, but is something junior practitioners will likely face.
Bonuses and Benefits
Bonuses for general surgeons can vary between countries and types of practices. Many surgeons working for countries with state-sponsored healthcare will be unlikely to see much in the way of a bonus beyond a holiday supplement.
Meanwhile, those whose skills and time working for a private hospital have resulted in them holding board seats are guaranteed substantial bonuses as well as profit sharing incentives. This can create for a rather lucrative career.
Other benefits are also available.
Health insurance, as well as other forms of insurance, are a given for the overwhelming majority of general surgeons. Those working for larger institutions will also find that their malpractice insurance can be subsidized; otherwise it is a significant expense. Additionally, considerable allowances will be made for investment programs and retirement plans to help practices and hospitals retain the best doctors possible.
With an aging population producing an ever-greater need for specialists like general surgeons, the profession shows no signs of slowing in terms of growth for quite some time. In fact, demand for general surgeons is so high in the English-speaking world that many countries have specialized immigration programs that help to attract top talent to work within their borders, all while making substantial salaries.
General surgeons are among the most highly paid healthcare professionals, but that pay comes at a substantial cost in terms of education. Several years of postsecondary training are required, as is perpetual refreshers to be sure that the surgeon has a handle on best practices and the latest techniques. Salaries do rise with experience, and the field shows no signs of slowing in growth in the English-speaking world.