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How Much Do Orthopedic Surgeons Make?

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Secure a Solid Financial Future Helping Others

If you love the field of medicine, academia, solving problems and helping others, a career as an orthopedic surgeon could be both lucrative and rewarding. Orthopedic surgery is a highly paid specialty, and you will spend your days serving patients as you diagnose orthopedic issues, prescribe treatment and perform corrective surgery. While the hours can be demanding and unpredictable, your generous salary may make it easier to secure reliable child care and plan a solid financial future for your family.

Job Description

Orthopedic surgeons are physicians who treat the musculoskeletal system. You will spend a great deal of time reviewing charts, taking medical histories, ordering tests, reviewing results, prescribing treatment and performing surgery. Preoperative, operative and postoperative concerns are often addressed, as orthopedic surgeons help patients understand what to expect and prepare for a smooth recovery. Travel time between your office and the hospital is often necessary, and odd or long hours are common.

Education Requirements

Orthopedic surgeons are highly trained specialists, so a love of academia will help you make it through the required years of schooling. You must first earn your bachelor's degree, followed by attending four years of medical school and securing a five-year residency program. The first part of your residency will cover all major areas of medicine, while the last part will be geared specifically to orthopedics. You will be required to take a medical licensing exam to be licensed in your state, as well as become board certified in orthopedics.

All those years in training and residency pay off, with a median annual salary of $353,886, which means that half of all orthopedic surgeons earn more than this, and the other half earns less. The top 10 percent earns more than $560,000, while the bottom 10 percent earns less than $120,000.


Orthopedic surgeons work in private practice, specialty group practices and in hospitals. Some also work in managed health care or teach in medical schools. Those in teaching careers may enjoy slightly more predictable hours and times off from work. Expect to spend time consulting with other doctors and traveling between your office and hospital. You will spend long hours on your feet doing surgical procedures and visiting patients in the hospital.

Years of Experience

An already very good salary increases gradually with time and experience on the job. Geography can also impact income, with higher profile urban hospitals paying more across the board. One projection of increasing income over time looks like this:

  • Entry-Level: 

    * Mid-Career:

    * Experienced:

    $116,594 - $586,174
    * Late Career:

    $195,220 - $679,213

Job Growth Trend

Job opportunities for all surgeons and physicians is expected to grow 15 percent over the next decade, which is much faster than in other industries. The baby boomer generation is aging and creating more demand for medical care. Secure residencies with well-known institutions to get your foot in the door in some of the higher paying hospitals or groups and create an ideal financial future for your family, doing something you enjoy.