How Much Does a Neurosurgeon Make? (With Common Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An occupation as a neurosurgeon may be fascinating and fast-paced. These specialists treat patients suffering from a range of nervous system disorders, and their pay may correspond to their location, educational qualifications and level of experience. Knowing how much neurosurgeons make might help you determine whether this is a career route for you. In this article, we look at what a neurosurgeon does, review how much a neurosurgeon makes and compare the average wages for different types of surgeons.

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How much does a neurosurgeon make?

To answer the question 'How much does a neurosurgeon make?', the national average salary for a neurosurgeon is $242,088 per year. Neurosurgeons are some of the most highly trained doctors, having studied for at least 15 years before qualifying to do unsupervised surgeries on patients. Because of the complexities of their work, they're among the highest-paid surgeons. Their pay is highly dependent on the following factors:

  • Education: The institution from which you received your medical degree may have an impact on how much you earn.

  • Level of experience: Employers may prefer applicants with more experience, which equates to higher pay to attract the most suitable individuals.

  • Workplace: Some medical facilities may provide more income than others. A neurosurgeon, for instance, may receive higher compensation in a research or specialist institution than in a small community hospital.

  • Subspecialty: You might expect to earn more money if you restrict your practice by concentrating on a subsection of the neurological profession. This is especially true if your specialism necessitates further academic study.

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What does a neurosurgeon do?

Neurosurgeons treat disorders affecting the neurological system, which involve the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves in the face, legs, arms, feet and hands. Neurosurgeons work on the human nervous system, performing surgery on patients suffering from head traumas, spine and brain cancers, herniated discs, brain aneurysms and peripheral nerve issues. Typically, surgeons undertake more spine procedures than brain operations, though emergency operations for head injuries are still prevalent.

Neurosurgeons may also be part of a broader team that provides nonsurgical therapy and rehabilitation for neurological illnesses like Parkinson's disease. In their field of employment, neurosurgeons are responsible for a variety of tasks and obligations. Common responsibilities of a neurosurgeon include:

  • Screening patients: One of a neurosurgeon's primary roles is to examine patients to find and diagnose neurological diseases.

  • Identifying problems: A neurosurgeon is also in charge of diagnosing patients with specific illnesses, traumas or diseases and developing treatment strategies appropriately.

  • Performing surgeries: A neurosurgeon conducts procedures on patients to cure or address neurological issues.

  • Managing staff: Neurosurgeons collaborate with a wide spectrum of medical experts to care for their patients. A neurosurgeon oversees a team of medical professionals and supports staff that help with surgeries before, during and after the procedure.

  • Tracking a patient's progress: After a neurosurgeon performs surgery, they may monitor the patient's progress and do follow-up checks to assess how well they've healed.

  • Keeping meticulous records: A neurosurgeon keeps extensive records regarding a patient's health, how the surgery went and any follow-up notes before and after surgery. They share these records with the patient's primary care physician and, if needed, other specialists.

  • Administering medicines: Following surgery, a neurosurgeon may give medicine to patients, such as antibiotics to prevent infection or pain medication for managing discomfort.

Read more: What Does a Scrub Nurse Do? And How to Become One

Tips to increase your salary as a neurosurgeon

These are some tips that may help you receive a higher pay:

Acquire professional experience

Neurosurgeons may begin their careers with high salaries, which may arise with expertise and time. Neurosurgeons who have been in the field for a longer time are likely to earn more than those who are new to the field. Typically, having more years of experience may mean that you're more skilled in your field, which can boost your confidence. Gaining experience can frequently help you negotiate a higher compensation and apply for higher-paying employment.

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Apply for positions in other organisations

Different companies may pay varying salaries, based on the nature and size of an organisation. You might look at firms that pay more than your present salary and submit an application. It's vital to take note and be aware that your expertise and talents can help you land a better-paying job.

Have a specialisation

Many neurosurgeons work in operating rooms, doing spine and brain surgeries. They may also be responsible for treating neurological system disorders. You might choose to specialise in a particular sort of treatment, such as neurocritical care or spinal issues. As a specialised doctor, you may do emergency operations in other hospitals and private offices. This might be an opportunity to make extra money in addition to your regular wage.

Related: How To Become an Anaesthesiologist (With Skills and Duties)

Supplement your income with part-time work

You may augment your income by finding a side job that utilises your knowledge and talents. You can, for instance, volunteer to talk at medical forums and conferences on a variety of problems relevant to your area of expertise. You might also look for a teaching position in a university or other educational institution, where you may teach aspiring students who want to work in your field. Another alternative is to write e-books about brain illnesses and other topics that are important to your clientele.

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Negotiate a higher salary

If you've been a neurosurgeon for a while in the same organisation, you may negotiate your remuneration. This might be an alternative to changing jobs in a quest for greater income. You can ask your employer to raise your pay depending on your experience, loyalty, talents and level of educational qualifications. A strong track record of achievement may increase your chances of receiving a better salary.

Related: How to Negotiate a Salary (With Examples)

Consider private practice

You might create a private practice to offer your neurosurgical services if you have the relevant expertise and licences. You can work the hours you desire in private practice, which means you can maximise your profits by working extra hours or seeing more customers each day. Providing specialised services may increase your chances of obtaining clients through referrals. To earn an above-average salary, you may wish to provide high-quality services so that clients would refer you to others.

Establish your reputation

A neurosurgeon's annual salary may be heavily dependent on their professional reputation. After assisting countless patients to recover successfully, some surgeons earn a reputation as being among the finest in their speciality. Because most patients may favour them above others, this may allow them to receive greater compensation. Providing outstanding service may help you develop your brand and enhance your reputation.

Salary comparisons between various types of surgeons

Before you determine the sort of surgeon you want to be, you can look at the typical pay for various specialities:

1. Obstetrics and gynaecology surgeon

National average salary: $250,000 per year

Primary duties: A career in gynaecology surgery puts an emphasis on the health of women, integrating specialist knowledge of obstetrics and gynaecology with general surgical skills, reproductive endocrinology, gynaecologic cancer, maternal and foetal medicine and other issues. Obstetrics and gynaecology surgeons care for female patients who have problems with their reproductive systems. These specialist surgeons may operate on pregnant patients, conduct caesarean sections, complete hysterectomies or give surgical intervention to address pelvic organ injuries.

2. Plastic surgeon

National average salary: $280,000 per year

Primary duties: Plastic surgeons conduct cosmetic surgery to change the look of a patient's body. They treat patients for issues such as birth abnormalities and can do reconstructive surgery following an accident or significant injury. Plastic surgeons also perform elective procedures such as facelifts.

3. Cardiac surgeon

National average salary: $374,400 per year

Primary duties: A cardiothoracic surgeon, also known as a cardiac surgeon, is a surgeon who specialises in surgeries to treat heart and lung diseases. They may offer mitral and aortic valve repair and replacement, coronary artery bypass grafting, cardiac support device installation, aortic aneurysm therapy and left ventricle restoration, among other services. These surgeons typically find employment in hospitals and other specialist medical facilities.

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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