Trauma surgeons, sometimes called critical care surgeons, provide emergency care to the victims of trauma from incidents such as traffic accidents, violence, and fires. Trauma surgeons must first become licensed as general surgeons. This requires 11 or more years of postsecondary education, training, and residencies. After becoming a general surgeon, a candidate must then undergo a one-year program and then pass an examination offered by the American Board of Surgery in order to practice as a critical care surgeon.
Average Pay and Pay Range
According to Medscape, critical care surgeons working in the United States earned an average salary of $240,000 as of 2011. While 10 percent reported annual pay of below $100,000, 48 percent of critical care specialists reported annual pay ranging from $200,000 to $400,000. The highest-paid five percent of critical care surgeons reportedly earned high average incomes of between $500,000 and $600,000 per year.
Pay by Region
Critical care surgeons reported the highest average income in the West and Northwest as of 2011. Those in California and Hawaii reported the highest average salary, $304,000 per year, while critical care surgeons in the Northwest averaged $300,000 per year. Critical care surgeons throughout most of the country averaged between $210,000 and $270,000 per year, though a couple of regions reported significantly lower average salaries for this occupation: $185,000 per year in the Great Lakes states and $176,000 in the Mid-Atlantic states.
Pay by Practice Type and Sex
Medscape reports that critical care surgeons working in hospitals reported an average annual salary of $247,000 as of 2012. Those in outpatient clinics averaged $300,000 per year, while the few who worked in academic research settings reported one of the lowest average salaries of any type of physician, $70,000 per year. Females in this occupation earned an average of $200,000 per year, significantly less than the $257,000 averaged by male critical care surgeons.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for all types of surgeons and physicians are projected to grow at a rate of 24 percent through 2020. This is significantly faster than the average growth rate expected for all occupations in the American economy, 14 percent. Some surgical specialties are expected to be in particularly high demand. According to the New England Journal of Medicine Career Center, critical care surgery is one specialty facing a severe shortage over the next 10 years. Qualified critical care surgeons entering the workforce should have little trouble finding employment.