How Much Does a Heart Surgeon Make?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs


Create a Bright Financial Future by Keeping Hearts Healthy

If you're passionate about heart health, possess a natural love of learning and enjoy helping others, a career as a heart surgeon could be a dream come true. Heart surgeons spend their days serving patients, diagnosing problems, and performing complex and often life-saving surgeries. Your impressive salary will make it easier to plan for your financial future and coordinate child care when you're working odd shifts or long hours.

Job Description

Heart surgeons are specially trained physicians who treat the heart, blood vessels and perform surgery in the chest cavity. Expect to spend your days reviewing charts, taking medical histories, ordering tests, reviewing results, meeting with patients, prescribing treatment and performing surgery. As with other physicians, you will work on a medical team involving other doctors and nurses as you serve patients. Expect to spend time collaborating with colleagues and visiting patients in the hospital. Record-keeping is important to patient care, and communicating with families during difficult times may also be necessary at times.

Education Requirements

Heart surgeons must earn a bachelor's degree and then spend four years in medical school. Following medical school, they secure and complete a five-year surgical residency, followed by a two- to three-year residency in cardiothoracic surgery. In addition to sitting for the medical licensing exam, you will be required to obtain board certification in your specialty following completion of your residencies.

Many years in school and training reap big rewards for heart surgeons who earn a median salary of $402,435, which means that half earn more than this, and the other half earns less. The top 25 percent earn more than $501,659, while the bottom 25 percent earn less than $333,976.


Heart surgeons work in private practice, group practices and in hospitals. They often spend time traveling between the office and the hospital and may be called in to perform surgery on evenings, weekends and holidays. Working in hospitals requires a lot of time on your feet and attention to sanitation and hygiene to stay healthy. Self-care is important to enable you to offer quality care to patients and maintain a healthy balance between work and home life.

Years of Experience

Heart surgeons are paid an impressive salary that is partially determined by geography and partially determined by years of experience. One projection of income over the course of a career looks like this:

  • 1‒2 Years: $352,368‒$392,218
  • 3‒4 Years: $355,434‒$395,283
  • 5‒6 Years: $357,477‒$397,326
  • 7‒9 Years: $363,608‒$402,435
  • 10‒14 Years: $376,891‒$420,207
  • 15‒19 Years: $390,174‒$439,459
  • 20 or More Years: $395,283‒$446,864

Job Growth Trend

Job opportunities for all physicians and surgeons is expected to increase by 15 percent over the next decade, which is much faster than in other industries. As baby boomers continue to age, they need more medical care and may encounter heart problems that need surgical correction. Look for a residency at a high-profile teaching institution to get your foot in the door for some of the higher paying positions.