How Much Do Neurosurgeons Make?

From the famous hair rocked by McDreamy in Grey’s Anatomy, to the (often fantastical) stories and heroic saves of Dr. Drake Ramory, the role of the neurosurgeon is one that has been heavily romanticized in popular culture.

Much Do Neurosurgeons Make
How Much Do Neurosurgeons Make? 7

The truth is, neurosurgeons are highly skilled professionals who often work long hours to save lives. They receive extensive training and years of education in order to practice at the highest level of their profession.

Neurosurgeons can expect to earn a significant salary for their expertise and dedication – but just how much do they really earn, and are their lives as rock and roll as they seem? We took a closer look at just how much money neurosurgeons make, and the answer may surprise you.

How Much Do Neurosurgeons Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for neurosurgeons in 2018 was $654,401 per year. However, these figures can vary greatly depending on location and experience level of the neurosurgeon.

For instance, surgeons working in highly populated areas such as New York City or Los Angeles can expect to earn significantly more than those working in rural areas.

Neurosurgeons with many years of experience and specialized training may also be able to command higher salaries.

In addition to base salary, neurosurgeons can also earn a significant amount of money through bonuses and other incentives. These incentives are often based on the number of procedures performed or patient satisfaction ratings, which can add up quickly.

In addition to their base salary, neurosurgeons may also receive a variety of benefits such as health insurance (see also “How Much Do Insurance Agents Make?“), retirement plans, and disability coverage. These benefits can add up to thousands of dollars in additional income.

What Is A Neurosurgeon?

A neurosurgeon is a highly specialized medical doctor who focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of neurological disorders. Neurosurgeons treat a variety of conditions, ranging from brain tumors to spinal cord injuries to epilepsy. 

How Do I Become A Neurosurgeon?

Neurosurgery is one of the most prestigious and respected positions in the medical field – but it does not come without a lot of hard work and effort.

To become a neurosurgeon, you will first need to complete an undergraduate degree in pre-medicine or a related field. You will then need to attend medical school and complete a residency in neurological surgery.

After completing your residency, you will be eligible to become board-certified and practice as a neurosurgeon.

Types of Neurosurgeon

Neurosurgeons can practice in a variety of specialty areas, including pediatrics, trauma, oncology, and spine surgery. Depending on their area of expertise, neurosurgeons may need to receive additional training and certification.

Some of the main areas that a neurosurgeon may choose to specialize in include:


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Pediatrics refers to the practice of caring for infants, children, and adolescents who are suffering from neurological disorders.

Pediatric neurosurgeons focus on treating conditions such as brain tumors, hydrocephalus, spina bifida, epilepsy, and other congenital disorders.

Average salaries for a pediatric neurosurgeon in the US can range from $435,908 to $712,295 per year, depending on location and experience.


Trauma neurosurgeons specialize in treating patients who have suffered traumatic head or spine injuries. These specialists are often called upon to provide emergency medical care in the aftermath of a car accident (see also “How Much Do Car Salesmen Make?“), sports injury, or another traumatic event.

The average salary for a trauma neurosurgeon in the US can range from $433,073 to $704,741 per year.


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Oncology refers to the treatment of cancer patients who have neurological complications or tumors in their brain or spine. An oncology neurosurgeon will typically be responsible for diagnosing, treating, and managing the treatment of cancer patients.

Spine Surgery

Spine surgery is a specialized field of neurosurgery that focuses on disorders related to the spine, such as herniated discs, scoliosis, and spinal stenosis. Spine surgeons are often responsible for performing complex surgeries to correct these disorders.

What Skills Do I Need To Be A Neurosurgeon?

There are a number of skills possessed by all good neurosurgeons, and some of the most important include:

Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking Skills

In order to be a successful neurosurgeon, it is important to have excellent problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Neurosurgeons must be able to make quick decisions in the operating room and be able to assess the risks associated with each procedure.

Excellent Communication Skills

Good communication skills are essential for neurosurgeons, as they need to be able to explain complex medical concepts to their patients and colleagues in a clear and understandable way.

Attention To Detail

Neurosurgeons must pay close attention to detail in order to ensure that their patients receive the best possible care. They must be able to identify subtle changes in a patient’s condition and be able to quickly and accurately diagnose a problem.

Manual Dexterity

Neurosurgeons must have excellent manual dexterity in order to perform complex surgeries with precision and accuracy.

Compassion And Empathy

Neurosurgeons must be able to provide compassionate care to their patients. They must be sensitive to the needs of their patients and be able to empathize with them in difficult situations.

What Factors Will Impact How Much A Neurosurgeon Makes?

What Factors Will Impact How Much A Neurosurgeon Makes?
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The amount a neurosurgeon earns will vary depending on their experience, the type of practice they work in, and the geographic location of their practice.


Experience plays a key role in determining how much a neurosurgeon earns. Generally, the more experience a neurosurgeon has, the more they can command in terms of salary.

Type Of Practice

The type of practice that a neurosurgeon works in can also have an impact on their salary. Neurosurgeons who work in academic settings typically earn less than those who work in private practices or hospitals.


The geographic location of a neurosurgeon’s practice can also have an impact on their salary. Neurosurgeons who work in areas with higher costs of living generally earn more than those working in rural or suburban areas.

In addition, neurosurgeons in major metropolitan cities tend to command higher salaries due to the increased demand for their services.

Education Level And Certifications

The level of education and any certifications held by a neurosurgeon can also have an impact on their salary. Neurosurgeons who hold advanced degrees or certifications may be able to command higher salaries than those with only basic qualifications.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a neurosurgeon is a demanding and rewarding career that requires a great deal of training, knowledge, and skill.

Neurosurgeons can earn a substantial salary, with some earning in excess of $500,000 per year – but this is in exchange for years of hard work, dedication, and practice. If you are prepared to put in the work, this can be an incredibly rewarding career.

Jason Sullivan
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