Plastic surgeons specialize in the reconstruction of human bodies. They sometimes work on patients who have suffered disfigurement, and sometimes perform surgery on patients who simply seek to improve their looks. Either way, plastic surgeons tend to be very highly paid. However, becoming one is not easy; the American College of Surgeons reports that a prospective plastic surgeon must complete a six-year training and residency program in addition to eight years of pre-med and medical school.
According to health care industry website Medscape, the median income for a plastic surgeon was $270,000 as of 2011. While 54 percent of plastic surgeons earned $300,000 or less per year, 30 percent reported annual incomes of between $300,000 and $500,000, and 16 percent made $500,000 or more per year. In its annual ranking of 25 medical and surgical specialties, plastic surgeons ranked ninth in terms of pay.
Plastic surgeons working in the Great Lake states were the most highly-compensated in 2011, earning median salaries of $339,500 a year, according to Medscape. Those working in the Mid-Atlantic states were close behind, with median annual pay of $335,000. Plastic surgeons in the North Central states reported median annual income of $297,500, and the median income reported for those in the South Central states was $290,000 a year. Median pay for plastic surgeons in the Southeast and Northeast was $265,000 per year, and those working in the Northwest and Southwest reported median annual income of $250,000.
Salary by Practice Setting:
According to Medscape, plastic surgeons who were employed by private practices reported the lowest median earnings in 2011, about $250,000 a year. Partners in private practices, however, reported median income of more than $400,000 a year, as did plastic surgeons working as independent contractors. Employees of academic institutions and hospitals reported median income of about $270,000 per year. Plastic surgeons practicing in multispecialty groups reported median income of about $500,000 a year.
Nearly 38 percent of plastic surgeons working as employees reported feeling fairly compensated in 2011, while 58 percent of plastic surgeons working in private practice felt fairly compensated, according to Medscape's annual salary survey. A surprisingly high 82 percent of plastic surgeons stated that they would choose the same medical specialty if they had to do it all over again, twice as high as the average of 41 percent across all specialties. This suggests that plastic surgery is one of the best surgical specialties in terms of job satisfaction.