Are Neurosurgeons the highest paid doctors?

In this brief guide we are going to answer the question “Are Neurosurgeons the highest paid doctors?” and detail the salary of these incredible specialists and the factors that can affect it.

Are Neurosurgeons the highest paid doctors?

Yes, Neurosurgeons are the highest paid doctors in the United States with earnings greater than $600,000 per year.

We have a car accident, we suffer a stroke or we suffer from epilepsy and the medicines have no effect. These are three situations in which damage usually occurs that may require medical and surgical intervention in our brain.

It’s an extremely delicate area of the body, so it’s necessary for a qualified professional who can intervene in the area: Neurosurgeons.

We know that it’s a very specialized branch of medicine that involves great responsibility, deals with a very delicate area and requires great preparation. As a consequence, their important work is also highly paid.

How much does a neurosurgeon earn? In this article, we are going to discover what their discipline is about and the retribution that they can get in some countries.

What is neurosurgery?

Neurosurgery is a medical discipline, a specialization linked to the surgical treatment of neurological problems. It covers both problems associated with the brain and the spinal cord, acting both at the level of the central and peripheral nervous systems.

Neurosurgery is responsible for a very specific and localized type of interventions that require great precision and that can mean the difference between life and death for those who need them.

This means professionals in this sector bear a high-stress load, since their professional practice involves a high level of responsibility (a small mistake could cause the death of the patient or leave severe sequels).

The neurosurgeon is a specialist in brain and neurological pathology, being able to diagnose and treat various conditions.

Some of the disorders and situations in which they intervene are, for example, head trauma, spinal cord injuries, cerebrovascular accidents, aneurysms, tumors, neurodegenerative diseases, epilepsy or severe cases of mental disorders (although the latter case isn’t usually common, sometimes surgery may be used as the last treatment option).

Their intervention may include the deactivation or disconnection of dysfunctional brain areas, the implantation or insertion of mechanisms such as valves or other therapeutic elements or techniques, the removal or suction of tumors, hemorrhages or excess cerebrospinal fluid.

What diseases do neurosurgeons treat?

 Intervertebral disc disease

  • Degenerative diseases as cervical spondylitic myelopathy and
  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis.
  • Hydrocephalus.
  • Head trauma (intracranial hematomas, skull fractures, etc.).
  • Traumatic peripheral nerve injuries.
  • Brain tumors.
  • Tumors of the spinal cord, spine, and peripheral nerves.

Cerebrovascular diseases (Hemorrhagic and ischemic)

  • Intracranial aneurysm.
  • Vascular Malformations (Arteriovenous Malformations, carotic-cavernous fistulas, cavernoma).
  • Brain hemorrhages.
  • Some serious psychiatric disorders.
  • Intractable pain in  patients with cranial / peripheral nerve trauma

Nervous system malformations

  • Arnold-Chiari malformation
  • Spina bifida
  • Anomalies of the cranio-cervical junction
  • Tethered spinal cord

How to become a neurosurgeon?

To carry out these interventions successfully requires a lot of practice and extensive knowledge of neurological anatomy and the most effective treatments for certain conditions, a knowledge that must be obtained.

1) If you are an aspiring neurosurgeon, the first thing you should have is a degree in Medicine, which at the moment is 6 years of hard effort and about 360 credits.

2) Pass the Medical Licensing Exam, the test can be taken in the first part of a residency program or right after medical school.

3) Complete Your Internship and Neurosurgical Residency, which lasts another 5 – 6 years. The first block will be for general content and the second training block for general content specific to neurosurgery.

In addition to academic training, to be a neurosurgeon you must meet the following qualities:

The first thing is having a good manual dexterity  to be able to make such delicate interventions. It’s also important to have availability to spend many hours in the operating room, since 80% of the neurosurgeon’s work takes place there.

Two more notes would be having a good ability to keep calm in complicated situations and having computer skills, since more and more technology is used in neurological interventions.

How much does a neurosurgeon earn?

The annual salary of a neurosurgeon is generally high, being one of the highest paid medical professionals. This stems from the high level of responsibility they have, the long training they have to undergo to exercise and the complexity of their task.

Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) performs an annual study called the Provider Production and Compensation Report, which analyzes the provider’s compensation data in the United States. The data is taken from surveys of more than 160,000 doctors and providers from more than 6,000 organizations.

For 2019 the top 5 of the highest paid doctors was:

1. Neurosurgery ($875,626);

2. Orthopedic Surgery ($835,573);

3. Pediatrics Neurosurgery ($818,325);

4. Cardiovascular Surgery ($795,000);

5. Orthopedic Surgery: ($756,911).

According to an analysis conducted by Neurosurgery Market Watch, a journal dedicated to neurosurgeons, the starting salaries of the ”newbies ” is an average of $ 538,000, according to their specialty it’s broken down as follows:

1. Vascular ($577,000)

2. Spine ($550,000)

3. Cranial/skull base ($526,000)

4. Pediatrics ($499,000)

Those huge salaries are due to a shortage of neurosurgeons, the expectation that these specialists have excessive on-call demands, and case complexity.

Hourly Payment Rates

The average hourly wage for a Neurosurgeon in the United States is $175 per hour on average. However, remember that it’s only an average, we can find neurosurgeons making $60 an hour while others earn up to more than $400.

The hourly rate can depend on many important factors, including total hours worked, education, the number of years you have spent in your profession and the billing rates for each procedure.

Difference by Countries

As we know, the salary can vary widely from country to country. Here we list the TOP 10 of the best paid countries in the world.

1. United States: $870,000

2. Switzerland: $615,000

3. Norway: $460,000

4. Japan: $413,615

5. Australia: $412,00

6. Canada: $340,000

7. Denmark: $296,765

8. Ireland: $250,000

9. Netherlands: $194,000

10.  United Kingdom: $138,000

Factors Affecting the Neurosurgeons Salaries

There are many factors that can influence neurosurgeon salaries, including the reputation and experience of the surgeon. The institution you work with or are affiliated with can also influence a neurosurgeon’s salary.

Any bonuses, incentives, or profit sharing benefits you receive may also take into account. Additionally, neurosurgeons salaries often vary by country and region. For example, In the United States, physicians in the southern and western regions have higher compensation than those in the eastern region.


One of the main factors that can influence the salary of a neurosurgeon is the experience they have. When a neurosurgeon is just starting out in this field, they have less experience than a veteran in the medical business. Likewise, they often have a lower starting salary.

However, over time, as they gain experience and develop skills, they could reach the same salary range that more experienced surgeons enjoy. In fact, newbies may even have a chance to earn more than them one day.


Reputation can also play a role in determining how much money a neurosurgeon will earn. Some surgeons, after gaining years of experience and helping numerous patients, earn a reputation for being among the best in their fields.

As a result, many of these physicians earn higher salaries than those who are less reputable. However, the fact that a doctor is not as well known in his field doesn’t always means that they’re not a good neurosurgeon; sometimes it means that they just haven’t gained as much recognition in the medical field as other doctors.


Interestingly, the geographic location in which a neurosurgeon works can also influence their salary. Surgeons in some countries earn more money overall than those in other countries. For example, in the United States neurosurgeons earn around $ 800,000, while in countries like Ireland they earn $ 250,000. Quite a difference, right?

In many cases, different institutions offer different neurosurgeon salaries. One institution may pay its surgeons much more than another, for example. Even in the same institution, salaries can differ depending on the experience the doctor has. Additionally, private practice salaries generally differ from those set by an employer.

So, are neurosurgeons the highest paid doctors?

Undoubtedly, the responsibility of neurosurgeons is related to their salary. Despite this, they’re the doctors who have to pay the most if something goes wrong in an operation.

However, the exact amount will vary greatly depending on where you practice, the type and number of interventions you perform (as well as the number of guards you do), and the number of years of experience you have. There will also be differences depending on whether it’s practiced in the public or private sector. 

FAQS: Are Neurosurgeons the highest paid doctors?

Which type of surgeon gets paid the most?

The highest earners — neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons — with earnings over $ 800,000, followed by cardiologists who earned $795,000 and anesthesiologists who made $300,000. The lowest earning doctors are the family guys.

Where are neurosurgeons paid the most?

The United States is the country that pays the most for neurosurgeons, with annual earnings of $ 870,000.

How much do top neurosurgeons make?

A neurosurgeon can earn up to $ 8,705,000, the median income is $ 704,000 and the lowest paid neurosurgeon can earn $ 350,000

Which country pays neurosurgeons the most?

The United States is the country that pays the most for neurosurgeons. It’s in first place with an annual salary of $ 810,192, followed by Switzerland with $ 615,000 and Norway with $ 460,000

What is the hardest doctor to become?

Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, Dermatology and neurosurgery are the hardest specialities to become.


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