What Education is Required to Become a Surgeon?

Considering a career in surgery? Find out what education is required to become a surgeon, including the steps you’ll need to take to complete your residency.

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The Path to Becoming a Surgeon

In order to become a surgeon, you will need to obtain a medical degree and complete a residency program. After you have completed your medical degree and residency, you will need to obtain a license in order to practice medicine. Then, you will need to complete a Fellowship in order to specialize in surgery.


In order to become a surgeon, you will need to complete a minimum of four years of college followed by four years of medical school. After medical school, you will need to complete a five-year surgical residency program. Some surgeons choose to complete a fellowship, which is an additional one to three years of training in a specific area of surgery.

In total, it will take a minimum of thirteen years to become a surgeon. However, it is important to keep in mind that the average starting salary for a surgeon is $340,000 per year. Therefore, the investment of time and money required to become a surgeon is worth it for many people.


How long does it take to become a surgeon? Well, that depends on which type of surgeon you want to be. For example, pediatric surgeons must complete a 3-year residency in general surgery followed by a 2-3 year fellowship in pediatric surgery. This means it could take up to 8 years of training before they are able to become board certified and practice on their own.

In contrast, someone who wants to become an orthopedic surgeon would complete a 4-year residency in general surgery followed by a 5-year residency in orthopedic surgery. So it would take at least 9 years of training before becoming board certified and starting their own practice.

Of course, these are just estimates. Some surgeons may take longer or shorter to complete their training, depending on their individual circumstances. But one thing is for sure – becoming a surgeon is not a quick or easy process! It takes many years of dedication and hard work to reach this goal.

The Different Types of Surgeons

Surgeons are medical doctors who have completed four years of medical school and have had at least five years of postgraduate medical training. There are different types of surgeons based on what area of the body they operate on. Some common examples include: cardiac surgeons, who operate on the heart; orthopedic surgeons, who operate on the bones and joints; and neurosurgeons, who operate on the brain and nervous system.

General Surgeons

General surgeons are doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of a wide variety of diseases and conditions. They perform operations on patients to repair or remove damaged tissue, organs, or bones.

General surgeons need to complete four years of medical school and an additional five to seven years of residency training before they can be certified by the American Board of Surgery. surgeon.

Some general surgeons choose to further their education by completing a fellowship in a specific area of surgery such as vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, or transplant surgery.

Cardiothoracic Surgeons

Cardiothoracic surgeons are specialists who operate on the heart, lungs, and other organs in the chest. They may also be known as thoracic surgeons or cardiac surgeons.

Cardiothoracic surgery is a highly specialized field, and it typically requires at least 12 years of education and training to become a surgeon. This includes four years of medical school, followed by a five-year residency in general surgery, and then a three-year fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery.

after which they must pass a rigorous examination process to become certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.


Neurosurgeons are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nervous system, which includes the brain, spine, nerves, and cerebral blood vessels. A neurosurgeon can be either a medical doctor (MD) or a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO).

In order to become a neurosurgeon, you will need to complete four years of undergraduate study, four years of medical school, and then seven to eight years of residency training in neurosurgery. During your residency, you will spend time working in both the outpatient and inpatient setting, as well as completing rotations in other related fields such as radiation oncology and neurology.

After completing your residency, you may choose to pursue fellowship training in a subspecialty area of neurosurgery such as pediatrics, oncology, or spine surgery.

Orthopedic Surgeons

Orthopedic surgeons are medical doctors who diagnose and treat disorders of the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. They use both surgical and nonsurgical methods to treat their patients.

Orthopedic surgeons must complete four years of medical school and then complete a five-year residency program in orthopedic surgery. After completing their residency, they must pass a written and oral examination administered by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS). Orthopedic surgeons who are board certified by the ABOS are called Diplomates.

Surgeon Salary and Job Outlook

Education requirements for surgeons include a 4-year bachelor’s degree, 4 years of medical school, and 3-8 years of residency training. After completing their residency, many surgeons choose to complete a 1-2 year fellowship in a subspecialty. The most common type of surgeon is a general surgeon, which requires 5-7 years of residency training. Cardiothoracic surgeons, which focus on surgeries of the heart and chest, have the longest training at 7-9 years.


Salaries for surgeons can vary widely, depending on experience, geographic location, and type of employer. In general, however, surgeons earn relatively high salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for surgeons was $208,000 as of May 2019. The top 10% of earners in this occupation earned more than $208,000 annually, while the bottom 10% earned less than $208,000 per year.

Although becoming a surgeon requires many years of education and training, it can be a lucrative career choice. With experience and specialization, surgeons can earn high salaries. In addition to their regular income, they may also receive income from bonuses or profit sharing.

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for surgeons is excellent, with a projected growth rate of 18 percent between 2016 and 2026. This means that there will be an increase in the number of surgeon jobs available during this time.

As the population continues to age, there will be an increasing need for surgical procedures to treat conditions related to aging, such as cataracts, joint replacements, and heart disease. In addition, the number of surgeries performed each year is expected to grow as new medical technologies are developed and more people have access to healthcare.

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