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How Much Does a Neonatal Surgeon Make

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Highly Trained Specialists Care for the Tiniest Patients

Neonatal surgeons are medical doctors who specialize in the surgical treatment of infants, both in the womb and after birth. It's a demanding specialty that provides critical and potentially lifesaving care. Hours can be long and unpredictable, so reliable child care is a must. Despite the stresses of the job, neonatal surgeons report a higher level of work satisfaction compared to those practicing other medical specialities.

Job Description

Premature and critically ill infants may need surgery immediately after birth. That's when a neonatal surgeon comes in. Sometimes, an intervention is necessary to correct a birth defect or an abnormality even before birth. Neonatal surgeons have the training and skills to provide this type of highly specialized care.

Education Requirements

Neonatal surgery is a sub-specialty of pediatric surgery that requires nine to 12 years of postgraduate training after the completion of a medical degree (M.D.) Education includes a five- to eight-year residency in general surgery, two years in a pediatric surgery residency and two years in a neonatal surgery residency.

Admission to medical school usually requires at least a bachelor's degree, and some candidates have post-baccalaureate credits or advanced degrees. There is no specific degree requirement, but coursework should include mathematics, life sciences, chemistry, physics, psychology, English and communications. Acceptance to medical school is very competitive. You need a high grade-point average (3.65 or higher) and a score of at least 508 on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). Three letters of recommendation are required, usually from professors or employers who know you well and can attest to both your academic achievements and work ethic.

Medical school takes four years to complete. In the first year, students participate in lecture and labs in advanced life sciences. In years two, three and four, students complete additional coursework in life sciences and classes in subjects such as health care policy and medical ethics. Increasingly, they spend time in supervised clinical settings, rotating through specialties to gain knowledge and experience. Rotations also help medical students find their passion and help them decide on a specialty.

All physicians must obtain a state license to practice upon graduation from medical school. Requirements may vary slightly from one state to another, but medical boards generally adhere to the same rules and standards. Board certifications in surgery, pediatric surgery and neonatal surgery are voluntary, but enhance credibility and employment opportunities. Continuing education is required to maintain board certification and is offered through medical schools and professional organizations.

About the Industry

Most neonatal surgeons work in large community hospitals, medical centers and children's hospitals. Though they may keep office hours to consult with families and other health care professionals, they put in long and irregular hours when performing surgery and while on-call. They serve as an important part of a neonatal team that includes pediatricians, pediatric and neonatal nurses and other specialists trained in the health care needs of infants.

Geographic State and Metropolitan Salary Map for Surgeons

Years of Experience

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide salary analysis specifically for neonatal surgeons. The salary range for a surgeon with a pediatric sub-specialty is $343,192 to $532,055. Pay variation is mostly dependent upon geographic location and affected by years of experience. Typical starting salary ranges include:

  • Less than one year experience: $365,110‒$412,599
  • 5‒6 years' experience: $418,687‒$477,615
  • 10‒14 years' experience: $424,775‒$485,621
  • 20+ years' experience: $424,775‒$485,621

Job Growth Trend

Job opportunities for all types of surgeons, including neonatal surgeons, are expected to grow faster than average in the coming years. The growing population, along with advances in medicine and technology, will likely fuel increased demand for these highly trained specialists.


Denise Dayton is a a freelance writer who specializes in business, education and technology. She has written for, Library Journal, The Searcher, Bureau of Education and Research, and corporate clients.

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