Surgeons are specialists in performing operations and other procedures aimed at treating diseases, injuries and deformities. They also carry out detailed patient examinations to advise them about their condition and recommend the best course of action in a particular situation.

Most surgeons specialize in one area (neurological, cardiovascular, orthopedic, etc.). As per the latest data available with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 36,000 licensed surgeons (except ophthalmologists) in the country. If you want to join their ranks, then this piece will provide the right guidance.

Should I Become a Surgeon?

Education Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) or Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
Area of Study/Major Requirement Medicine
License/Certification Required
Experience/Training Required
Key Skills Complex Problem Solving, Finger and Manual Dexterity, Arm-Hand Steadiness, Problem Sensitivity
Annual Mean Salary (2019) $252,040
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 7% (Physicians and Surgeons)

Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net Online

Surgeons are among the highest-paid medical practitioners. They usually hone their craft in a particular area such as orthopedic surgery, pediatric surgery and cardiovascular surgery, etc. The process to become a surgeon is a long one with intensive education and rigorous training (usually a residency program). Long hours and frequent emergency calls are a routine occurrence on the job.

Career Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a 7% growth in jobs for Physicians and Surgeons between 2018 and 2028. This is somewhat more than the rise expected for many other professions. It will be due to the ever-increasing and ageing population.

Steps to Become a Surgeon in the US

To become a surgeon in the US, follow the procedure mentioned below.

  1. Study for a Bachelor’s Degree
  2. To become a surgeon in the USA, the first thing you need to do is get a 4-year Bachelor’s degree. Studying science-related subjects (biology, chemistry, kinesiology, physics, health sciences, etc.) is recommended. However, there is no binding requirement as far as choosing a major is concerned.
    You just need to make sure that any and all prerequisites for medical school have been fulfilled. A pre-med track is also available at many colleges for aspiring doctors and surgeons. Also, be mindful that the program at your chosen institution is accredited by the relevant authority.

  1. Sit for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)
  2. When your undergraduate education is done and dusted, it is time to sit for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). You may also take this exam during the third or fourth year of Bachelor’s studies. Scoring high on the MCAT is vital if you are to get into medical school.

  1. Enter Medical School
  2. When you are in medical school, you will pursue either a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) or an MD (Doctor of Medicine) degree. This will take 4 years to complete.

  1. Undergo Residency Training
  2. When medical school is over, you will have to join a surgical residency program. This is where you will pick a specialty like cardiovascular, reconstructive, pediatric, thoracic and neurological, etc. As per the AMA (American Medical Association), general surgical residencies tend to last for about 5 years. However, an additional 1 to 3 years will be needed if you choose to go for a sub-specialty.

  1. Obtain Your License to Practice
  2. Once you finish the residency, application for your state license can be forwarded. Requirements vary from one state to another but candidates usually have to qualify a standardized test to be eligible.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Surgeon?

The Bachelor’s degree takes 4 years while the same amount of time will be spent in medical school. After that, you will undergo residency training for 5 years with an extra 1 to 3 years in case you opt for a sub-specialty. All this adds up to a total of about 13 to 16 years.

What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Surgeon in the US

The requirements listed below have to be fulfilled by aspiring surgeons.

  • Obtaining a Bachelor’s degree.
  • Finishing medical school with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) or a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree.
  • Undergoing residency training.
  • Earning the state license.

How Much Can I Make After Becoming a Surgeon?

Going by the most up-to-date records of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Surgeons (Except Ophthalmologists) drew an annual mean wage of $252,040 in 2019.