The role of the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service is to give the people the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and to oversee the operational command of the 6,500 health officers in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. The Surgeon General is considered a military officer and is paid based on military officer pay scales. The military pay scale for the Surgeon General is O-9, the same as a Lieutenant General or a Vice Admiral.
In 2011, the basic pay for an O-9 starts at a monthly salary of $13,469.70 for over 20 years of continuous service and increases with every two years of service until theoretically reaching $16,708.50 for over 40 years of service. However, in practice, Level II of the Executive Schedule limits basic monthly pay for an O-7 to O-10 to $14,975.10.
Military pay grades also come with benefits, including vacation pay, sick leave, health care insurance and retirement benefits.
Congress appointed the first Surgeon General, at the time called the Supervising Surgeon of the Marine Hospital Service, in 1871. The title changed to Supervising Surgeon General in 1873 and to Surgeon General in 1902. As of 2011, 15 men and two women have served as Surgeon General since 1871. The Surgeon General in 2011 is Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA.
Deputy and Assistant Surgeon General Salaries
The pay scale for the Deputy Surgeon General or an Assistant Surgeon General with a rank of major general is O-8, which in 2011 starts at $9,530.70 a month for two years or less of service and increases every two years up to $13,739.40 for over 40 years of service. An Assistant Surgeon General with a rank of brigadier general is paid on the O-7 scale, which ranges from $7,919.10 to $11,831.70 monthly.