Many of us probably wanted to be doctors growing up, or at least played at doctors and patients. Even if we didn’t know very much about the profession or what kind of high-level of education was required to for it, the job still seemed exciting and well-respected. Of course, as we get older we come to know it's also one of the highest-paying careers in the world.
It's no surprise, then, that doctors are often glamorised through popular culture. Television shows like ER (once featuring hunk George Clooney), Grey’s Anatomy, and House have dominated the airwaves with dramatic story lines and over-the-top characters. Doctors always seem wonderfully heroic, rushing through emergency rooms to save a child’s life or as getting to the bottom of a medical mystery. In real life, there’s no question that they are intelligent, often brave, and almost certainly well off.
How rich? In comparison to most average careers, very.
According to Forbes Magazine and Becker’s Hospital Review, a doctor can make almost $1 million a year, depending on the medical field in which they specialise. While reading this article, it might be easy to start second-guessing your earlier career goals, or that rebellious phase you had as a youth when you did everything in your power to be nothing like your parents. Regardless of a doctor’s specialization, the profession still ranks as the highest paying in North America.
10 Dermatologist: $465,543
Rashes, burns, acne and diseases like cancer are the dermatologist’s domain. Other than skin, a dermatologist is also an expert in the treatment of hair, nails, and mucous membranes. After graduating from medical school, a student of dermatology must complete a 1 year internship and a 3 year medical residency program. Some continue their studies after a residency program in a fellowship, where, upon completion, they choose one area of dermatology in which to specialize and work in. Among the procedures performed by a dermatologist there are skin biopsies, cryotherapy and injection of special chemicals. In treating the skin, dermatologists earn an average salary of almost $500 thousand a year.
9 Anesthesiologist — Pain Management: $502,775
It’s the very important job of the anesthesiologist to make sure you don’t feel pain (or anything at all) when going under the knife. These doctors are are trained in the administration of medications that either dramatically reduce or eliminate the sensation of chronic pain. This may be needed during or after operations. In the case of chronic pain management, anesthesiologists may treat a patient for their back, major joint pain, and spinal stenosis. For people who experience pain with injuries or diseases over a lifetime, anesthesiologists are essential when working with physicians and surgeons that ensure a patient is as comfortable and functional as possible.
8 Pediatric Surgeon: $505,281
Pediatric surgeons are experts in the operative stages of necessary surgery for children and infants. Problems affecting young patients may include birth defects and abnormalities, trauma, and both malignant and benign tumour growths. In addition to the regular medical training required for doctors, including extensive post-graduate work and examinations, they must complete two years of additional training specific to children’s surgery. Although no life is held above any other in the medical field, pediatric surgeons have the unique position of saving an entire lifetime. For that, their salary is just over $500 thousand.
7 Radiologist — Diagnostic-Invasive: $513,000
Radiologists are experts in seeing beyond the capabilities of the normal naked eye. In order to diagnose internal diseases, infections, and cancers, radiologists use special imaging techniques such as x-ray and ultrasound to delve into the human body to locate and identify internal ailments. Radiologists have a unique perspective of the inner-working of body parts, in some cases to a microscopic level, and can be integral in the diagnosis and treatment of a multitude of medical problems. Common procedures are needle biopsy, gastrostomy tube, and varicose vein treatment.
6 Orthopedic Surgeon — Trauma: $562,688
Severe trauma may occur during times of accidents or emergencies. These may include single bone fractures or complex musculoskeletal injuries that acutely affect the life of a patient. In many hospitals, orthopedic surgeons work closely with other divisions such as plastic surgery, neurosurgery, and vascular surgery to ensure a patient is being carefully and properly treated. Common procedures for trauma are fracture reduction and post-trauma deformity corrections, operations that can either save or dramatically improve a life. Tibia, femur, and hip fractures are all common conditions that orthopaedic surgeons treat for almost $500 thousand.
5 Cardiovascular Surgeon: $567,171
When your heart isn't pumping as well as it used to, you call a cardiologist; a doctor who knows one of the most important organs in the the human body. A cardiologist who specializes in the cardiovascular areas of the heart focuses specifically on the heart’s blood vessels which could have been damaged by disease or disorder. These surgeons perform operations such as heart defect repair, laser revascularization, and aneurysm repair. If surgery alone is not enough to regain a normal, working heart then a ventricular assist device, such as “high-tech heart savers”, may be used when the heart fails to pump enough blood to the body.
4 Dermatologist — Mohs Surgeon: $586,083
When someone is diagnosed with cancer of the skin, a dermatologist might be required to perform Mohs surgery. The procedure has been performed for the last 70 years. Over the last 40 years, it has become more widespread in American medicine. Predominantly used for the treatment of melanoma, a common type of skin cancer, it’s value in the eradication of the disease has been well established in the peer-reviewed medical literature. Although some medical professionals have stated that Mohs surgery is “too expensive,” it is still less expensive than other types of treatments. When a patient’s life is on the line, no expense is too great. In compensation for the microscopic surgery, dermatologists earn a salary of over half a million dollars.
3 Cardiologist: $601,111
Every second, electricity pulses through the body and through every organ, and regulating these impulses is sometimes necessary. In the United Kingdom, cardiology is one of the most popular specialties in medicine and attracts a higher percentage of males than females. Some of the common types of cardiatric surgery are open-heart in type, meaning doctors temporarily stop the heart beat to perform their procedures. This is done for coronary bypasses, heart valve procedures, and, of course, the heart transplant. For a doctor who actually holds a heart in their hands, it’s important they are well compensated. That’s why cardiologists make up to $600 thousand for a year’s work.
2 Neurological Surgeon: $701,927
Neurosurgeons make their impressive salary by doing what some usually consider unthinkable: opening a skull and operating on a functioning brain. With diseases such as Alzheimer’s and devastating ailments like strokes, it’s a neurosurgeon’s job to be an expert in the complexities of the human brain. However, neurological diseases aren’t only common in older patients. Disorders such as epilepsy, Huntington’s disease and Wilson’s disease also affect the younger population. For so much to tackle with people of any age, and for understanding one of the most mysterious parts of the human body, the neurological surgeon earns $701 thousand a year.
1 Orthopedic Surgeon — Spine: $714,088
Orthopedic surgeons specialize in the musculoskeletal system and anything that makes the body move. Surgeons in the field can take on patients who suffer from broken bones, torn ligaments, and muscle diseases. However, spine injuries are so complex that many hospitals and treatment centres have entire divisions dedicated to their treatment. Among other things, spine disorders can be caused by growth disorders, neuromuscular disorders, and spina bifida. Treatments of spine disorders span from invasive to non-invasive surgery and preventative medicine. Orthopedic surgeons who work exclusively in spinal disorders top out as the highest-paying doctors on the job at well over $700 thousand per year.