Brain surgeons are also called neurosurgeons, because the brain and the spine make up the nervous system. Neurosurgeons examine patients just as ordinary doctors do, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and promote preventative health care so patients can avoid illnesses when possible. When illness cannot be prevented, neurosurgeons correct ailments of the brain through surgery. Brain surgeons' incomes are based on experience, location and employer.
Average Hourly Rate
Neurosurgeons who are new to their field and who have been in the industry for less than one year can expect to make between $17 and $107 an hour, according to PayScale in 2010. The $17 is likely a reflection of a resident's pay, who aren't paid a full salary until they complete residency. After four years, the pay rate increases to an average of $150 an hour, and increases again after 10 years to $200 an hour.
Annual Income by Location
As of 2010, neurosurgeons in Pennsylvania reported average annual salaries of $413,000, according to PayScale. In New York, neurosurgeons made 436,000 a year, while neurosurgeons in Texas and Florida reported earnings in the $490's. Illinois is home to the highest-paid neurosurgeons, with the average income topping out at $513,000 a year.
Education and Training
Neurosurgeons have spent four years completing undergraduate school, four years in medical school and three to eight years in residency. Courses such as biology, microbiology, chemistry and physics trains them in being a doctor, while courses in taking patients' medical histories, medical ethics and the laws of medicine teaches them how to deal with the administrative side of being a doctor. Years working under a surgeon in paid residency prepares them for becoming independent neurosurgeons.
The outlook for employment for surgeons and physicians alike is predicted to be good through 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The expansion of the health care industry is expected to be a reason for this. Additionally, as new technology makes it possible to identify illnesses and conditions sooner than previously possible, more surgeries will be performed to correct them.
2016 Salary Information for Physicians and Surgeons
Physicians and surgeons earned a median annual salary of $204,950 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, physicians and surgeons earned a 25th percentile salary of $131,980, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $261,170, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 713,800 people were employed in the U.S. as physicians and surgeons.