Brain Surgeon Salary in 2017

Also responsible for executing highly comprehensive check-ups on patients and for keeping track of their history and symptoms, a neurosurgeon, also known as a brain surgeon, performs surgery on affected areas of the brain and nervous system. The brain surgeon salary is the highest in the US where neurosurgeons earn about $383,000 per year, Canada with C$308,000 (US$242,765), and Australia with AU$252,000 (US$198,657). The UK and New Zealand have lower salaries for their brain surgeons: ₤100,000 (US$130,212) and NZ$200,000 (US$146,396) per year. The lowest salaries for neurosurgeons are found in India and South Africa, where professionals take home about Rs2,757,000 (US$43,236) and R800,000 (US$59,585), respectively.

How Much Does a Brain Surgeon Make per Year?

Speech Therapist Salaries US Canada UK Australia New Zealand India South Africa
Hourly Wage $184.13 C$148.08
(US$116.72)
₤48.08
(US$62.61)
AU$121.15
(US$95.51)
NZ$96.15
(US$70.36)
Rs1,325.48
(US$20.78)
R384.62
(US$28.64)
Annual Wage $383,000 C$308,000
(US$242,765)
₤100,000
(US$130,212)
AU$252,000
(US$198,657)
NZ$200,000
(US$146,396)
Rs2,757,000
(US$43,236)
R800,000
(US$59,585)

Factors that Influence the Brain Surgeon Salary

Below, you will find a series of factors which influence the annual salary of a brain surgeon the most. You will find out how much the salary is influenced by day to day factors, as well as what you could do to make sure that your next job as a brain surgeon is paid better than most.

brain surgeon performing surgery

Source: Pixabay

Geographic Area

Being able to generate a difference in pay of more than $100,000, the geographic area of the place of employment is nowhere near the biggest influence on the brain surgeon salary.

Brain Surgeon Salary in the US

The salary of a neurosurgeon working in the US is $383,000 per year, or about $184 per hour according to Payscale. This source reports 78% of the neurosurgeons working in the US are male and that only entry-level brain surgeons earn less than the national average; mid-career, experienced, and late-career professionals earn significantly more.

The starting salary of a neurosurgeon is $101,858 per year, while experienced professionals can earn up to $813,581 per year. This includes bonuses between $1,028 and $116,968, profit sharing income of up to $347,319, and commission of up to $90,000 per year.

Even though the Bureau of Labor Statistics only has data about general surgeons, we can use this info as a reference for brain surgeons, too.

Highest Rates of Employment for Brain Surgeons in the US

The states offering the highest levels of employment for surgeons are the following:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
California 4,770 0.30 1.02 $111.68 $232,300
Texas 3,230 0.27 0.94 $113.61 $236,300
Massachusetts 2,480 0.72 2.44 $119.13 $247,790
Ohio 2,300 0.43 1.47 $109.45 $227,660
Pennsylvania 1,800 0.31 1.07 $99.12 $206,170

For those interested in more widely distributed data, the table below will show you the metropolitan areas with the highest surgeon employment rates:

Metropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division 1,580 0.24 0.82 $119.17 $247,870
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA NECTA Division 1,370 0.76 2.59 $112.97 $234,980
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC 1,080 2.74 9.33 $127.53 $265,260
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolita Division 1,080 0.25 0.87 $110.03 $228,870
Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL Metropolitan Division 1,040 0.29 0.97 $116.39 $242,080
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI 890 0.47 1.59 $137.43 $285,850
Columbus, OH 870 0.85 2.90 $115.96 $241,200
Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metropolitan Division 830 0.34 1.17 $103.84 $215,990
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-W Metropolitan Division 660 0.27 0.91 $104.04 $216,400
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 650 0.26 0.87 $126.52 $263,150

Here are the non-metropolitan areas with the highest employment rates for surgeons working in the United States:

Nonmetropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Northwest Minnesota nonmetropolitan area 100 0.51 1.73 (5) (5)
West Kentucky nonmetropolitan area 80 0.55 1.87 $130.26 $270,930
Piedmont North Carolina nonmetropolitan area 70 0.29 0.98 $138.71 $288,520
East South Dakota nonmetropolitan area 70 0.49 1.68 (5) (5)
Northwest Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area 60 0.52 1.77 $125.00 $260,010
Highest Salaries for Brain Surgeons in the US

The states offering the highest pay to starting surgeons are:

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Wyoming 110 0.39 1.33 (5) (5)
West Virginia (8) (8) (8) (5) (5)
South Dakota 350 0.83 2.84 (5) (5)
Oregon 440 0.25 0.84 (5) (5)
New Hampshire 350 0.54 1.84 (5) (5)

The metropolitan areas with the highest surgeon salaries are as follows:

Metropolitan area Employment Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Worcester, MA-CT (8) (8) (8) (5) (5)
Portsmouth, NH-ME 30 0.38 1.29 (5) (5)
Pittsfield, MA (8) (8) (8) (5) (5)
Nashua, NH-MA NECTA Division 40 0.28 0.94 (5) (5)
Manchester, NH 80 0.77 2.61 (5) (5)
Dover-Durham, NH-ME (8) (8) (8) (5) (5)
Barnstable Town, MA (8) (8) (8) (5) (5)
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA 90 0.41 1.38 (5) (5)
Winchester, VA-WV 30 0.56 1.90 (5) (5)
Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ Metropolitan Division 60 0.17 0.58 (5) (5)

The non-metropolitan areas with the highest salaries for surgeons:

Nonmetropolitan area Employment  Employment per thousand jobs Location quotient Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
South Central Wisconsin nonmetropolitan area 40 0.18 0.62 (5) (5)
Southern Vermont nonmetropolitan area 50 0.50 1.72 (5) (5)
East South Dakota nonmetropolitan area 70 0.49 1.68 (5) (5)
Central Oregon nonmetropolitan area (8) (8) (8) (5) (5)
South Coast Oregon nonmetropolitan area (8) (8) (8) (5) (5)

Brain Surgeon Salary in Canada

A brain surgeon working in Canada earns C$308,000 (US$242,765) per year according to Payscale. The starting salary is set at C$118,359 (US$93,340) per year, but experienced professionals can take home up to C$569,696 (US$449,091) per year. Out of this amount, as much as C$100,334 (US$79,163) can be earned as bonus. The job satisfaction among brain surgeons in this country is extremely high, especially among experienced, mid-, or late-career professionals. 80% of them enjoy medical insurance among their benefits, and about half also have dental and vision insurance. 20%, however, have no type of medical insurance.

Brain Surgeon Salary in the UK

According to Payscale, the mean salary of a neurosurgeon working in the UK is set at ₤100,000 (US$130,212) per year – less than a third of what a professional working in the US earns. Beginners in this field start off at about £35,411 (US$46,059) per year and can earn bonuses of £988 (US$1,285) per year. Experienced professionals, however, can take home as much as £349,367 (US$454,428) per year; late-career neurosurgeons working in the UK can earn bonuses of up to £89,396 (US$116,279).

About 70% of the neurosurgeons working in the United Kingdom are male and about 22% of them have no type of health insurance with their job.

Brain Surgeon Salary in Australia

The mean salary for brain surgeons working in Australia is AU$252,000 (US$198,657) per year and, according to Payscale, is higher than the starting, mid-career, and experienced salary for this location. Beginners in this field can earn about AU$98,704 (US$77,659) in their first years and will reach the mean salary after about 10-15 years on the job. Late-career professionals, on the other hand, can earn as much as AU$573,653 (US$451,335) per year; bonuses can account for about AU$18,500 (US$14,559) of this amount.

The same source reports 32% of the neurosurgeons working in Australia have no type of health benefit with their job.

Brain Surgeon Salary in New Zealand

Although no data is available from the official Careers New Zealand’s website, we can get an idea on how much a neurosurgeon makes by looking at their salary data on surgeons. Knowing that neurosurgeons are among the highest-paid professionals in the medical field, we can estimate the average neurosurgeon salary between NZ$175,000 (US$128,152) and NZ$600,000 (US$439,314) per year. The same source reports professionals in this field have good employment opportunities if they are willing to spend about 15 years on training.

Brain Surgeon Salary in India

Payscale reports the mean salary of a neurosurgeon at Rs2,757,000 or US$43,236 per year. Entry-level professionals can earn about a quarter of the mean salary: Rs747,372 or US$11,715 per year. Mid-career professionals earn about 31% more than the national average, while experienced professionals can take home about 78% more: Rs8,153,792 or US$127,812 per year, out of which up to Rs48,796 (US$765) in bonus and Rs55,000 (US$862) as profit sharing.

About 52% of the neurosurgeons working in India have no type of health benefit with their job.

Brain Surgeon Salary in South Africa

A neurosurgeon working in South Africa earns about R800,000 (US$59,585) per year on average. The starting salary is R363,650 (US$27,028), but experienced professionals can earn up to R6,082,046 (US$452,604) per year, out of which up to R30,000 (US$2,232) in bonuses.

Unlike all other reviewed countries where most of the professionals in this field were male, 67% of the neurosurgeons working in South Africa are female. Also, 44% of the brain surgeons here have less than 4 years of experience in this field.

Experience

One of the greatest influences on the average salary for a brain surgeon, second only to the industry of the occupation, the level of experience of most brain surgeons can generate a difference in pay of more than $200,000.

In the United States, an experienced professional earns 8 times more than a beginner in this field and about twice more than the national average. In Canada, the starting salary is less than a third of the average and about a fifth of the experienced salary. Those working in the UK will notice the starting salary is about a third of the average and the experienced salary is 3.5 times higher than the average.

In Australia, the starting salary for neurosurgeons is less than half of the mean salary and even experienced and mid-career professionals can have salaries below the national average. Late-career brain surgeons, however, can earn more than double the mean salary for this profession.

India has the biggest differences between the starting, mid-, and late-career salaries for brain surgeons: the national average is 3.7 times higher than the starting salary, while the late-career salary is more than 10 times the starting salary. In South Africa, the late-career salary is almost 17 times higher than the starting salary.

Industry

The industry of activity can generate differences in pay of more than $200,000 a year. Sadly, however, because the differences were calculated based on reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ estimated starting brain surgeon salary, they are not as obvious as they would have been for the average salary.

Below, you will be able to see a couple of tables detailing the industries which offer the highest levels of employment and the highest brain surgeon salaries. Of course, the industries offering the highest pay aren’t the same ones as the ones offering employment opportunities.

The industries with the highest employment levels for neurosurgeons working in the US:

Industry Employment Percent of industry employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Offices of Physicians 32,620 1.30 $125.99 $262,050
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 6,750 0.12 $105.69 $219,840
Outpatient Care Centers 690 0.08 $119.44 $248,440
Offices of Other Health Practitioners 180 0.02 $99.51 $206,980
Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals 140 0.06 (5) (5)

The industries with the highest salaries for neurosurgeons in the US:

Industry Employment Percent of industry employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals 140 0.06 (5) (5)
Other Ambulatory Health Care Services (8) (8) (5) (5)
Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories 30 0.01 (5) (5)
Local Government (OES Designation) 40 (7) $130.07 $270,540
Offices of Physicians 32,620 1.30 $125.99 $262,050

Note: All tables are courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Working Hours

On average, a brain surgeon performs somewhere around forty or fifty brain surgeries and more than 180 spinal surgeries a year. It’s common for a brain surgeon to perform fifteen or more surgeries a week. Because of this, the average brain surgeon work week usually lasts for about fifty or sixty hours.

Add to that the fact that most brain surgeons also work weekends, holidays, and nights, as well as being on call and having to be prepared for emergency surgeries at any time, and the job description can get very overwhelming, very fast. This and the responsibility that comes with the job are the main reasons why the brain surgeon salary is so high.

If you are interested in a related job that doesn’t require as many hours as neurosurgery, we recommend reading our guide to the neurologist salary.

Bonuses and Benefits Packages

Most brain surgeons, depending on the industry in which they work, get some of the best benefits packages in healthcare. Malpractice insurance is necessary in most reviewed countries, as is health, life, vision, and dental insurance. The number of paid and sick leaves is also very satisfactory, as is the 401(K) plan for US-based neurosurgeons. The bonuses, commissions, and profit sharing can raise the average brain surgeon salary with as much as 20% at the end of the year depending on location.

Job Outlook

Brain surgeons have a very positive job outlook. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate of all surgeons, including neurosurgeons, is estimated to grow 14% by 2024. That is much faster than the average for all professions.

The expected increase in the number of required neurosurgeons throughout United States hospitals is attributed to the rise of cardiovascular incidents and diseases in the recent years. The constant increase in the elderly population is also a highly determinant factor.

Conclusion

The brain surgeon salary is one of the highest in healthcare. Depending on multiple factors, such as the geographic location of the place of employment, each employee’s level of experience, and the industry to which the job belongs, the salary of a brain surgeon can go as high as $800,000. Of course, the highly stressful work environment, the long work weeks, and the very high levels of education required for the profession are very good reasons for the high wages.

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