How Much Money Do Neurosurgeons Make?

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A neurological surgeon is a medical doctor whose specialty is the care of the nervous system in the human body. How much money does a neurosurgeon make? That depends on several factors. Experience plays a major part. A first year inexperienced surgeon will make much less than an experienced surgeon. Developed countries such as the United States can afford to pay their surgeons more. Different regions in the U.S. pay more than others. For instance, the increased cost of living in New York City is reflected in better salaries.

Highest Paid Physician

The salary a neurosurgeon commands in the U.S. can range between $350,000 to $850,000, with an average income of $568,000 per year. These figures may or may not reflect bonuses. Neurosurgeons are the highest paid physicians and make hundreds of thousands more than most doctors including general surgeons. The highest paid general surgeon can make $300,000, which is still fifty thousand dollars less than the lowest paid neurosurgeon.

Salary Reflects Extra Training

Salaries for neurosurgeons reflect the additional training needed to become experts. In the U.S. they must finish college, compete for acceptance into medical school and complete up to 7 years of residency. Residency for most physicians lasts 3 years. Residency is practicing medicine under supervision of licensed physicians. A neurosurgeon would most likely do his or her residency at a large hospital, gradually growing more experienced and knowledgeable.

Additionally, neurosurgeons become board certified which means becoming accredited by an organization approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Requirements vary but can include competency assessments, written and oral examinations, an unrestricted license, and experience in full time practice, continuing education, and recertification at regular intervals.


How much do neurosurgeons make? It depends on whether the surgeon is treating patients, conducting research, or teaching. Also, the sub-specialties in neurosurgery may affect the compensation rate. Sub-specialties recognized by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons include pain management, cerebrovascular, emergency trauma, pediatrics, spine and nerves, stereotactic, and tumors.

  • Pain Management - prevention and treatment of minimal and severe nerve pain from acute or chronic causes.
  • Cerebrovascular - relating to the brain including brain infections, stroke, trauma, tumors, water on the brain, malformations, aneurysms, and epilepsy.
  • Emergency Trauma - acute, traumatic events to the brain, spinal cord and nerves, spinal disc herniation.
  • Pediatrics - surgery with the special needs of growing children.
  • Spine and Nerves - spinal herniations, spinal stenosis or narrowing of the spinal canal, movement disorders.
  • Stereotactic - minimally invasive surgery using imaging techniques and alternative methods to major surgery.
  • Tumors - brain tumors, or tumors where nerves are involved.


Merritt Hawkins and Associates, 2007 Annual Salary Survey

Association of American Medical Colleges, Careers in Medicine: Specialty Information

Medical Education FAQ, Medical Residency and Beyond, Eric P. Wilkinson, M.D.