Surgeons often choose to specialize, with one of the best-paying specializations being neurosurgery. Brain surgeons also can advance their careers by becoming a chief neurosurgeon and overseeing the neurosurgery ward. Pay for a chief neurosurgeon easily can reach over half a million dollars per year, although some make much less. The best chief neurosurgeons may get salaries of close to seven figures.
Typical Neurosurgeon Salaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), specialized physicians such as neurosurgeons have an average yearly salary of $339,738 as of 2008. However, the ongoing Allied Physicians Salary survey indicates that wages for neurosurgeons range from $354,000 (entry-level) to $936,000 (top earnings) per year. Similarly, Salary.com gives a range of $303,615 to $709,136. The 2008 American Medical Group Association (AMGA) Medical Group Compensation and Financial Survery indicates that the average yearly salary is $592,811. As head surgeons with more experience, chief neurosurgeons usually are on the upper ends of neurosurgeon salary survey figures. Salary indicates that all chief of surgery physicians earn $151,170 to $661,892, with an average of $405,469.
Neurosurgeons often advance to chief neurosurgeons simply by performing in the field successfully for a number of years. However, many chief surgeons opt to get additional degrees related to business administration. According to 2009 data from the American College of Physician Executives, having at least a master's degree related to business increases salaries between 8 and 11 percent.
On top of a regular salaries, like other neurosurgeons, chief neurosurgeons can earn money through profit sharing, bonuses and commissions. Chief neurosurgeons with many years of experience can expect the greatest compensation from these sources.
Overall, the BLS projects the physician and surgeon industry will grow by 22 percent through 2018. As the industry grows due to an increased population and rise in elderly patients, pay is also rising — rates rose by 1.1 percent between 2008 and 2009. Technology also has some bearing on the rates for all surgeons, including chief neurosurgeons. If a chief neurosurgeon operates in a facility that has access to the latest technology, they likely can be more productive and therefore get higher salaries because of the higher number of procedures completed.