Physicians and Surgeons

Annual Earnings Percentiles

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  • Purpose: 99
  • Supported: 98
  • Social: 91
  • Analytical: 84
  • Creative: 60

What Physicians and Surgeons Do

Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses. Physicians examine patients; take medical histories; prescribe medications; and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventive healthcare. Surgeons operate on patients to treat injuries, such as broken bones; diseases, such as cancerous tumors; and deformities, such as cleft palates.

Work Environment

Physicians and surgeons held about 708,300 jobs in 2014. Many physicians work in private offices or clinics, often with administrative and healthcare personnel.

How to Become a Physician or Surgeon

Physicians and surgeons have demanding education and training requirements. Almost all physicians complete at least 4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and, depending on their specialty, 3 to 7 years in internship and residency programs.

College Majors

Showing data from the American Community Survey for the following US Census occupation categories:

  • Physicians and surgeons

Bachelor's degree majors are shown.

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    Job Outlook

    Employment of physicians and surgeons is projected to grow 14 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Job growth is projected due to increased demand for healthcare services by the growing and aging population.

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    Job Trends for Physicians and Surgeons

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    This occupation supported 691,500 jobs in 2012 and 708,400 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 2.4%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 17.8% in 2022 to 814,700 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 716,100, compared with an observed value of 708,400, 1.1% lower than expected. This indicates current employment trends are about on track with the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 14.4% in 2024 to 807,700 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 839,300 jobs for 2024, 3.9% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation.