When looking at a career in neurology, you’re in it for the long haul -- at least as far as education goes -- which stands to reason. Neurologists have an important job: diagnosing and treating disorders affecting the nervous system. Anything from chronic headaches to seizure disorders fall under their purview. Fortunately, most employers are willing to pay for this expertise. Even entry-level positions are in the six figures.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for all types of physicians and surgeons, including neurologists, was $166,400 a year in 2010. This figure doesn’t account for specialty, nor does it account for experience -- two factors that have a big impact on earnings. According to a 2006 survey by Allied Physicians, an entry-level neurologist is likely to make $180,000 a year. Profiles, an online resource for physicians’ recruiters, offered a similar number, setting the median at $190,000 a year as of 2011.
As with any career, experience can improve earnings, and a neurologist is no exception. In 2012, the average pay for neurologists with six years of experience was $237,000 a year, according to Profiles. The Allied Physicians survey shows that the highest reported salary for this specialty was $345,000 a year.
A neurologist's high pay is at least partly due to the years it takes to specialize in this form of medicine. To become a neurologist, you must complete four years of undergraduate school and four years of medical school. After that, you’re looking at a residency of at one year for general internal medicine and another three years in neurology. If you’re taking on a subspecialty, such as child neurology, vascular neurology, critical care or pain management, it could take an additional one to four years to complete your training.
The BLS expects employment of all physicians and surgeons to increase 24 percent from 2010 to 2020. This is much faster than the 14 percent projected growth rate for all U.S. occupations. Those specializing in a particular branch of medicine should see even better prospects, especially when dealing with health issues affecting the aging population.