Which States Pay Surgeons The Most?

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Becoming a surgeon requires committing to many years of school and putting in countless clinical hours. The good news is that all the time and hard work can lead to a fulfilling career that pays well. The average annual pay for a general surgeon in the U.S. as of January 2024 is $285,176, according to ZipRecruiter.

It’s important to remember that this is just the average salary. Where a surgeon lives, the type of surgery specialty they take on, and a host of other factors can influence how much they can earn. Keep reading for more insight into how much surgeons make.

What Are Surgeons?

A surgeon is a medical professional who operates on patients to treat injuries (such as broken bones), diseases (like cancerous tumors), and deformities (such as cleft palates). A surgeon can have an M.D. (Medical Doctor) and D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degree.

A surgeon doesn’t only perform operations, however. These specialists are also responsible for the preoperative diagnosis of the patient and for providing the patient with postoperative surgical care and treatment. The surgeon is also looked upon as the leader of the surgical team.

Surgeons can typically expect to work long days, primarily in person, so this type of job is probably not a good fit for anyone looking for a work-from-home job. However, surgeons can work in a variety of different settings. 

These include:

  • Private practice
  • Academic medicine
  • Institutional practice
  • Hospitals
  • Ambulatory surgery settings
  • Government service programs

How Much Does a Surgeon Make Starting Out?

General surgeons can earn an impressive entry-level salary, often as much as $250,000. With experience, a surgeon can make upwards of $399,000 a year, per ZipRecruiter.

What is the Average Salary for a Surgeon?

You can measure how much a surgeon makes by looking at both their average hourly rate and annual salary. The national average hourly salary for a surgeon is $137, while the average annual pay for a surgeon in the U.S. is $285,176.

The type of specialty a surgeon chooses to practice can impact how much they earn. What surgical specialty makes the most? Let’s take a quick glance at the average annual wages for surgeons with varying specialties:

  • Orthopedic surgeon: $375,000
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeon: $368,879
  • International cardiothoracic surgeon:$367,474
  • Plastic surgeon: $356,489
  • Mohs surgeon: $345,926

What Is the Average Surgeon Salary by State for 2024?

How much money a surgeon makes can vary by location. What follows is a breakdown of how much general surgeons make a year, on average, by state (highest to lowest).

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Surgeon Job Considerations for Pay & Benefits

Surgeons typically work in clinical settings, such as physicians’ offices and hospitals, including academic hospitals associated with residency programs and medical schools.

The average annual salary for a surgeon is $285,176 but surgeons can actually earn a lot more when you look at their total compensation package including benefits.

Because surgeons often work full-time for a specific hospital, company, or organization, prospective surgeons can expect to find a job that offers them the standard suite of employee benefits, including healthcare, paid vacation, vision and dental insurance, and a retirement plan.

In addition to these benefits, some surgeons also receive life insurance policies, continuing medical education (CME), flexible scheduling, research and academic support, and development programs.

Pros and Cons of a Surgeon’s Salary

Becoming a surgeon takes a lot of hard work and discipline, but surgeons can also change the lives of their patients every single day and earn a substantial income at the same time. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of choosing a career as a surgeon.

Pros of Being a Surgeon

Being a surgeon offers potential benefits like:

  • Ability to help people A surgeon can help people experience less discomfort, pain, and stress, and even save their lives. Surgeons also train and mentor junior colleagues.
  • Opportunity to work as part of a team Surgeons typically collaborate with doctors, nurses, and other medical specialists to provide comprehensive care to patients. (Consequently, it may not be the ideal medical specialty for someone who is naturally more of an introvert.)
  • High compensation The national average salary of surgeons is $285,176 per year but can go as high as 375.000-plus, depending on location, years of experience, certifications, and other factors. Surgeons also typically get benefits like health insurance and 401(k) plans.
  • Consistent schedule Depending on their specialty and seniority, some surgeons are able to have a regular work schedule and perform surgeries during certain hours. This can help promote a healthy work-life balance.
  • Chance to work in different environments Surgeons can work in a variety of places, including hospitals, private practices, and other medical centers. Many surgeons also have offices where they consult with patients in addition to the centers where they do surgery.

Cons of Being a Surgeon

However, surgeons also face the following challenges:

  • Long and rigorous educational requirements To become a surgeon, you typically need to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program, a four-year degree program from medical school, and a three to seven-year internship or residency program. All told, it can take 11 to 15 years of studying in school to enter the field of surgery.
  • Long hours Depending on your specialty and where you work, you may need to work long hours. Indeed, general surgeons may work 50 to 60 hours per week. In addition, some surgeons need to be on call on evenings and weekends.
  • High-pressure job Surgery generally involves a certain level of risk and surgeons are under pressure to perform procedures with no errors in order to ensure a positive outcome for their patients. Surgeons need to be able to stay calm and focused under pressure.
  • Burnout potential Depending on their specialty, some surgeons may be required to perform the same procedures each day, sometimes more than once per day. This could potentially lead to job burnout over time.
  • High education costs Going to school for all the years required to become a surgeon can be expensive. As a result, surgeons may take on a lot of student loan debt, which they’ll need to repay once they enter the field. This can lessen the average surgeon’s salary.

The Takeaway

Becoming a surgeon requires years of study and practice, including medical school and residencies. Those who are up for the challenge can earn a high salary, especially if they go into one of the more lucrative specialties. Since surgeons earn such a high income, they need to find a way to manage their money and use it to reach their goals.

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


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You can still grow your wealth with an average salary. Here’s how

You can still grow your wealth with an average salary. Here’s how

We owed thousands more than we owned: What’s known as having a negative net worth. And making less than 60% of the median income at the time, things didn’t look good for the future.

Fast forward many years, and our fortunes (no pun intended) have truly changed.

Over the past three years, we could have lived off our passive income, and still grown our net worth. Including our active income, our savings rate was over 55%.

We’ve truly come a long way.

I won’t lie, much of it was due to a combination of building successful solo businesses (that brought in much more than a median income), and exceptionally good market returns.

However, the following three simple steps would have allowed us to build wealth even without those advantages.

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Let’s start by what I don’t mean by wealth.

I’m not talking about the Gates, Buffet, or Bezos level of money.

I’m not even talking about having over $11 million and making it into the top 1% of net worth.

What I do mean by wealth is having enough passive income to cover your spending, with a comfortable margin. I believe that’s what people call “FU” money.

Personally, I prefer to call it FI money – financial independence.

For me, that’s what wealth means.

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The median US income is the level of income where half of the American households have higher incomes, and half have lower incomes.

According to the US Census Bureau, the median household income was $67,521 in 2020. According to DQYDJ.com, the median income dropped by 1.39% from 2020 to 2021, which would make the 2021 median income in the US $66,582.

The average income was almost 44% higher than the median, skewed by the extreme income inequality in the country. You can see that inequality in the following graph. Instead of a normal bell curve, 38% of households make less than 10% of the top percentile income, and the median income is at just 13.4% of the top percentile.

WealthTender

You make $66,582.

Let’s say you’re in your 30s, have a spouse and a couple of kids, and live in Maryland.

You just bought a house at the median home price of $346,900 with a 20% down payment and a mortgage at 3.5% interest. Your monthly principal and interest payment is $1,558. Adding in insurance and property taxes, your monthly payment is $1930.

According to the H&R Block federal tax estimator, you’re eligible for a $10,000 tax credit, which after your federal taxes are taken into account means you actually get $5314 more from the IRS than was withheld from your paycheck.

According to GoodCalculators.com, your Maryland income tax is $2,325.

Your after-tax net income is thus $69,571.

This makes your mortgage payment about a third of your after-tax income. Not great, but not horrible for this part of the country.

You’re committed to reaching financial independence, so you live frugally and set aside 15% of your income, or $10,000 a year.

Your employer offers a 401(k) plan and matches dollar-for-dollar up to 6% of income. You take advantage and contribute $3995 to capture the full match.

You contribute another $3,000 into a traditional IRA, and another $3,000 into a taxable account, where you invest it in a low-cost index fund like Warren Buffet recommends.

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Taking into account your employer’s 401(k) match, you’re saving 21% of your pay. But wait, you’re also paying down your mortgage each year, starting at $6657 in Year 1 – another 10%+ savings. Overall, your savings rate is actually over 31%!

Good job!

However, for the purpose of figuring out what you need to cover your retirement spending, we can only count the 15% you’re setting aside from your own income.

That means you’ll need the other 85% of your income to cover expenses. Taking into account that some expenses will drop (no kids to take care of in retirement, no commuting expenses, no payroll taxes, etc.) while others will increase (higher healthcare costs, higher leisure spending, etc.), let’s say you’ll need 80%, or $53,266.

According to Fool.com, you can expect Social Security benefits to replace about 40% of that, so you only need to cover the remaining $32,000.

Using the venerable 4% rule, your target is $798,984, which we’ll round up to $800,000.

With 32 years left until retirement age, what I call your “add-on factor” is about 80.

That’s the number by which you divide your target portfolio value to get the amount you need to invest each year. This is based on an assumed inflation-adjusted return of 5% per year.

Using this factor, you’ll need to invest $10,200 annually, or $850/month.

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Of course, you’ll need to adjust that for inflation each year to reach your ultimate target in terms of purchasing power. After all, it would be a shame to reach that $800,000 only to realize that in today’s dollars you only have $424,500! That’s what would happen after 32 years of 2% annual inflation. If inflation averages 5%, you’d only have $167,893 in today’s dollars.

So, what does all this mean?

The bad news is that your current $10,000 isn’t going to cut it.

The really good news is that you’re almost there, you just need to increase your annual set-aside by 2%, going from 15% of income to 15.3% of income.

You can do it!

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The first step is one you’ve already taken – buy a home at a fixed affordable monthly payment. Ideally, that’s under 28% of income, but in no case more than 36% of income. Generally, you want to target homes that cost under 3 times your annual income, but these days that’s very hard to do. Thankfully, with mortgage rates near historic lows, you can squeak by with 5.5 times your annual income.

I first did this somewhat late, at age 38. At the time, I was paying $1,600 a month rent for a 3-bedroom apartment in a not-so-great part of town, and that was by far the best deal available at the time. In today’s dollars, that translates to $2,587/month.

Assuming a 20% down payment, 1.2% of house value for insurance and taxes, and a 3.5% 30-year fixed mortgage, I could buy a home worth over $570,000 and have lower monthly payments. And that’s before counting the mortgage interest tax deduction or the fact that part of each payment pays down principal and increases my net worth. Plus, rent is almost guaranteed to go up with inflation (if not more), while a fixed mortgage keeps your payment constant (though the insurance and taxes do go up over time).

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Your second step is also simple, and surprisingly easy. Each time you get a raise, bonus, or significant cash gift, direct at least half to your retirement savings. Personally, I target 2/3 to savings. Spending the remainder on great experiences, replacing an old clunker of a car, or some other improvement to your standard of living is ok. In fact, it’ll make it easier to stick with your long-term plan.

However, take into account that if you increase your spending, you’ll need to revisit your portfolio target. For example, say you just got a 10% raise, and decide to save half of it, and spend the other half. Your portfolio target just increased from $800,000 to $840,000, and your annual savings requirement upped from $10,200 to $10,700.

That seems a burden until you realize that investing the other half of your raise increased your $10,200 to $13,500. This is how you painlessly increase your savings rate while balancing your future self’s needs with your present self’s desires.

The great news is that if you stick with this step, you’ll likely blow past your target portfolio value much earlier than you ever thought possible. In my case, I only started setting aside and investing serious money toward retirement 13 years ago, and I already have more than I imagined possible back then.

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The third step is also simple. It’s to invest your long-term money in the stock market or some other plausible-risk, high-return asset. I’m not advocating you take up day trading, or dumping all your money into crypto, or even that you start investing in individual stocks.

Instead, learn how to pick good mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and/or educate yourself on building wealth through rental real estate. Preferably, do both to diversify your investments.

While this last step is simple, it isn’t always easy or painless. On average, the stock market loses money about one year in every four, and while it has averaged about 6-7% inflation-adjusted returns over the past century, it has lost over 20% in a single year dozens of times.

The important thing is to not panic-sell when it crashes.

Just remember that on average, the market has made it back from such losses in 2-3 years, and even in the absolute worst case, it has never had a 20-year period with losses. If you think the market is currently overheated, with a poor risk/reward ratio, you can temporarily allocate more money to safer assets (e.g., money market funds, CDs, short-term bonds, etc.), and move them back into stocks once the crash comes.

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Even on a median income, which is less than 1/7 of the top 1% income, you can build real wealth. By that, I mean a portfolio large enough to cover your retirement spending.

All it takes is a bit of knowledge, a bit of planning, a good bit of grit to keep on plan when (not if) things go sideways for a while and following the above three simple steps.

This article originally appeared on WealthTender.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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