What is a surgeons salary in Australia?

Australia, renowned for its advanced healthcare system and excellent training institutions, offers a competitive landscape for medical professionals. Among these, surgeons often stand out due to the rigorous training they undergo and the life-saving procedures they perform. But how well are surgeons compensated in Australia? Let's delve into the average salary of a surgeon in the country.

General Surgeons are among Australia’s top-earning professionals in 2024.

Average Salary:

On average, a surgeon in Australia can expect to earn a significant income. Based on the Australian Taxation Office's (ATO) data, surgeons top the list of Australia's highest-paid professionals with an average taxable income of around AUD$394,000. It's also worth noting that salaries for different specialties within surgery can vary widely. For example, a neurosurgeon or cardiothoracic surgeon may earn a higher salary than a general surgeon or orthopedic surgeon.

Your level and years of experience, the kind of work you take on, and even where you work can have an impact on how much you earn.

Factors effecting a surgeons salary in 2024:

Specialisation: The surgical field is vast. From orthopedic and neurosurgery to cardiothoracic and plastic surgery, different specialisations can command varying salaries. For instance, while a general surgeon might earn a substantial amount, neurosurgeons or cardiothoracic surgeons often see even higher compensation due to the complexity and precision their subfields demand.

Experience: Like any profession, experience counts. A surgeon who's just completed their training will likely earn less than a seasoned surgeon with years of operations under their belt.

Location: The region where a surgeon practices can also influence their earnings. Metropolitan areas, with higher living costs, might offer better compensation compared to regional or rural areas. However, there are incentives in place for those who opt to work in rural areas, balancing out potential disparities.

Public vs. private: Surgeons working in the public healthcare system might earn differently compared to those in private practice. Many experienced surgeons juggle both, performing procedures in public hospitals and consulting in private clinics.

Locum doctors are earning up to $4000/day. How does your salary compare? Find out in our free 2024 Australian Doctor Job Market.
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How much you can earn as a locum general surgeon in Australia:

Locuming is a great way to travel and earn extra. Though you can locum alongside a permanent role, locuming full-time is a great way to expand your network, and increase your income and experience.

Here are typical pay rates for locum specialist general surgeons, RMOs and registrars:

· Resident medical officers (RMO): $80 – $200 per hour

· Registrars: $100 – $250 per hour

· Consultant general surgeons: $2,000 – $3,500 per day

It’s not all about income. Locuming enables you to choose when and where you want to work, and how often. This means you’re free to do more of the things you love, whether that’s assisting in a community that needs you, or simply spending more time with family and friends.

What is the highest-paying surgeon in Australia?

In Australia, the surgical field comprises various specialities, each demanding a unique skill set and expertise. However, when it comes to the highest-paying surgical specialty, neurosurgeons generally top the list. These professionals, specialising in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system, command substantial remuneration due to the complexity and precision their procedures demand. Their in-depth knowledge of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, coupled with the life-altering nature of their operations, often translates to earnings that surpass other surgical specialities in the country.

Neurosurgeons earn the highest surgeon’s salary in Australia at over $800,000.

A neurosurgeon's earnings can vary significantly based on factors such as location, experience, reputation, and sub-specialisation within the field of neurosurgery.

Entry-level: A neurosurgeon starting their career after completing their fellowship might earn an average annual salary ranging from AUD $250,000 to AUD $400,000 in Australia.

Mid-level: With around 5-10 years of experience, a neurosurgeon's earnings could increase to an average of AUD $400,000 to AUD $800,000 or more per year.

Experienced: A highly experienced neurosurgeon with a substantial patient base and a solid reputation can earn well over AUD $1 million annually, with some reaching up to AUD $2 million or even more, especially if they work in a high-demand urban area or have a niche specialization.

Private practice vs. public hospitals: Neurosurgeons in private practice often earn more than those working in public hospitals, due to the ability to charge private rates. However, those in public service might benefit from more regular hours and additional job security.

Location: Earnings can also vary based on the location of practice. Major cities or areas with a high demand for neurosurgical services might offer higher salaries, but they may also come with increased living costs.

It's essential to note that these figures can vary based on economic changes, advancements in medical technology, healthcare policies, and other factors affecting the medical profession.

Neurosurgery is followed by cardiothoracic surgery, orthopedic surgery, and plastic surgery as Australia's highest-paying surgery roles all making over $550,000 a year.

How to increase your general surgeon income:

Surgeons can increase their salaries by taking several steps. One way is to specialise in a high-demand area such as neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, or plastic surgery. Surgeons can also increase their earnings by working in private practice and building a loyal patient base. Developing a reputation as an expert in their field can help to attract more patients and increase revenue.

Taking on leadership roles within a hospital or surgical team can also lead to higher salaries. Surgeons can also look for opportunities to work in underserved areas or rural communities, where there may be a higher demand for their services and fewer competitors. Finally, pursuing advanced education, training, or certification in a specific area of surgery can also lead to higher earning potential.

Despite a dip during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for general surgeons across Australia is still high. This means job and earning opportunities are strong.

The best way to increase your income is to find out where you’re in demand and what skills you need to stay competitive.

Here’s a break down of how you could earn more:

· Location is a great way to start. Hospitals in Western Australia and New South Wales pay some of the highest general surgeon salaries. Rural and remote work also offers higher pay rates.

· Locum tenens rates are typically higher than the equivalent permanent hourly rate. The average day rate for a locum consultant surgeon is between AUD$2,000 and AUD$3,500.

· General surgeons with skills and experience in subspecialties like thoracic, cardiac and paediatrics are in demand and can earn higher salaries.

· Take advanced short courses like Management of Surgical Emergencies (MOSES). This will to take your skills to the next level, and make your CV stand out from the crowd when applying for top roles.

· Stay informed. Applications for top medical roles get competitive. Register with a specialist medical recruitment agency like Medrecruit, so you can find out about (and apply for) the top roles in general surgery first.

Comparison with other countries:

When compared globally, Australian surgeons' salaries are competitive. They tend to earn more than their UK counterparts and are on par with surgeons in the US, after adjusting for living costs. However, it's essential to factor in the high cost of living in major Australian cities when making such comparisons.

Looking to gain experience and further your career as a surgeon?? Work with us to find the right surgery role for you. We’re a preferred supplier to hospitals and clinics across Australia and have jobs for surgeons at all career stages.

Want to learn more about the hottest locations and the highest rates for doctors in Australia right now? Download our brand new and free 2024 Job Market Report.

Medrecruit Editorial Team
04 October 2023Article by Medrecruit Editorial TeamMedrecruit Editor