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How Much Does a Trauma Surgeon Make a Year on Average?

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If you’re thinking of becoming a trauma surgeon due to the lucrative salary range, it’s understandable. Long hours and a large amount of student debt may give you slight pause before you settle on this career path, however. Your passion for the trauma specialty and for helping people may still be more important than the salary, despite how high it is.

Salary Range

According to a 2000 salary survey of members of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma, respondents earned between $90,000 and $528,000 annually. Trauma is considered a specialty and, in 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that median compensation for physicians and surgeons in specialties was $339,738.

Factors Affecting Salary

Years of experience undoubtedly play a role in determining compensation for trauma surgeons. Respondents to the EAST survey had between 1 and 17 years of experience, which may account for the wide range of salaries within the specialty. Education may also play a role; over 66 percent of respondents to the survey were not only active trauma surgeons, but had also done their fellowship training stints in trauma centers. The data in that survey may also have skewed higher due to 44 percent of respondents being chiefs of their respective trauma centers at the time they responded.

Geography

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages report from May 2010 revealed that Wyoming is currently the top paying state for surgeons in general. Other top-paying states include Wisconsin, Utah, Tennessee and South Dakota. Exact salary data are not given; instead, the report states that the wage is at least $80 per hour or $166,400 annually, but may actually be more. While EAST members are primarily based in North America, note that international members who meet their qualifications are welcome. Since survey responses were anonymous, it’s not clear how or even if geography affected the results of that survey.

Considerations

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that surgeons in general undergo a long period of study prior to becoming active surgeons. Four years of undergraduate studies are followed by four years of medical school and between three and eight years of internship and residency. This helps explain why respondents to EAST’s survey ranged between 33 and 50 years of age. It also means that by the time you complete your full course of training to become a trauma surgeon, you will likely have accumulated a staggering amount of student loan debt. While the high salaries offered by the trauma specialty are attractive, it’s important to remember that you’ll have to undergo rigorous and expensive schooling to get to that point.

References

About the Author

Amrita Chuasiriporn is a professional cook, baker and writer who has written for several online publications, including Chef's Blade, CraftyCrafty and others. Additionally, Chuasiriporn is a regular contributor to online automotive enthusiast publication CarEnvy.ca. Chuasiriporn holds an A.A.S. in culinary arts, as well as a B.A. in Spanish language and literature.

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  • Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images