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Hand surgeons generally are orthopedic surgeons by training, although general surgeons and plastic surgeons also can perform surgery on hands. Orthopedic surgeons, regardless or their subspecialties, are among the highest paid of all physicians. Most hand surgeons actually treat the entire extremity, from fingers to shoulders. Although general, plastic and orthopedic surgeons all have their own board-certification organizations, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand certifies surgeons of any discipline who are qualified to perform hand surgery.
Orthopedic Hand Surgeon Salary
According to the Physician Compensation Survey conducted by the American Medical Group Association, an orthopedic hand surgeon in the U.S. earns a median salary of $476,039. The MGMA 2010 Physician Compensation and Production Survey, based on 2009 data as reported in Becker’s ASC Review, places an orthopedic hand surgeon’s average salary at $544,106. Men earned more than women, with male orthopedic hand surgeons making $490,972 annually compared to a female hand surgeon’s average salary of $439,904.
General Surgeon Salary
General surgeons make a median salary of $357,091, according to the Physician Compensation Survey. Student Doc places the average salary at $291,000, with a low-reported salary of $226,000 and a top-end salary of $520,000. Salary.com reports a median salary for general surgeons of $302,270, with a 25th to 75th percentile range of $264,885 to $359,505 a year. The bottom 10th percentile median salary is $230,848 and the top 10th percentile median figure is $411,615.
Orthopedic hand surgeons, like most professionals, earn more money as they gain experience. A 2006 Allied Physicians survey shows that orthopedic surgeons specializing in hands and upper extremities earn $288,000 during their first two years of practice, $459,000 annually after their third years and a maximum salary of $770,000. General surgeons showed a progression of $226,000 during the first two years, $291,000 after three years of practice, and a maximum salary of $520,000. Plastic surgeons earned $237,000, $412,000 and $820,000, respectively.
Orthopedic surgeons in the South earned higher salaries than those in other regions of the country, with an average salary of $607,290, according to the MGMA survey data. Foot-and-ankle orthopedic surgeons, who trailed hand surgeons in overall salary by $544,106 to $518,463, also trailed hand surgeons in the South, earning an average income of $580,903. The West was the lowest-paying region for orthopedic hand surgeons at $458,433 a year. Orthopedic hand surgeons practicing in metropolitan areas of more than one million people made $560,187 a year. Salary Expert reports that the average salary of a hand surgeon in Dallas is $460,707. The data doesn’t discriminate among orthopedic, general or plastic surgeons. In Charlotte, N.C., the average salary is $450,255 and in Boston the figure is $433,483.
Orthopedic hand surgeons working in single-specialty groups earned $511,263 annually, higher than surgeons in multispecialty groups, according to MGMA Physician Compensation Survey data. Foot-and-ankle orthopedic surgeons were compensated more than hand surgeons in multispecialty groups, earning an average salary of $515,652.
Other Orthopedic Surgeons
According to the American Medical Group Association’s Physician Compensation Survey, orthopedic hand surgeons make a median salary of $476,039. General orthopedic surgeons, who may operate on hands but also perform other orthopedic surgeries, make $500,672 a year and pediatric orthopedic surgeons make a median salary of $425,000. Joint-replacement orthopedic surgeons make $605,953 a year and spine surgeons earn a median salary of $688,503. Medical orthopedists who aren’t surgeons make a median salary of $297,348.
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John Kibilko has been writing professionally since 1979. He landed his first professional job with "The Dearborn Press" while still in college. He has since worked as a journalist for several Wayne County newspapers and in corporate communications. He has covered politics, health care, automotive news and police and sports beats. Kibilko earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Wayne State University.