See How Long It Takes To Become a Surgeon

To become a surgeon, you must be passionate about medicine, and the human body as a whole, as this will keep you going through your medical school years. But, how long does it take to become a surgeon?

Typically, becoming a surgeon can take up to 13 years after finishing high school. While the route to becoming a surgeon seems long and requires a lot of hard work, it is financially rewarding.

This article explores who surgeons are, their core roles and responsibilities, how long it takes to become a surgeon, and other relevant information about the career path.

Let’s get started.

Who is a surgeon?

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A surgeon is an expert with a medical degree and a specialization in medical operations. The major job involves performing surgical treatments on sick or injured patients.

Furthermore, surgeons operate on damaged hearts, remove brain tumors, and mend severely fractured bones, among others.

In order to execute these delicate procedures, they heavily rely on highly technological diagnostic data and precise operating tools.

What do surgeons do?

Generally, surgeons perform surgical procedures to treat injuries and diseases in the human body. However, the surgery could be to prevent or cure a particular condition.

Typical surgeon responsibilities may include:

  • Consultation with patients to identify symptoms
  • Diagnosing illnesses with a team of healthcare professionals
  • Providing patients with pre-and post-operative care instructions
  • Employing different surgical instruments during operations
  • Revision of patient records on surgical outcomes and general health
  • Prescription of medication to aid in recuperation
  • Maintaining a clean environment, including the use of a surgical cap, glasses, a mask, and gloves

How long does it take to be a surgeon?

Generally, it can take up to 13 years to become a surgeon. This includes four years for a bachelor’s degree, four years for a medical degree, and five years for residency.

However, becoming a surgeon is a very rewarding discipline that combines both mental and physical abilities.

Surgeons typically specialize in one area of surgery. The following are ten branches of surgery:

  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Oral and maxillofacial
  • Trauma and orthopedic
  • Otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat surgery)
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Plastic surgery
  • Urological surgery
  • Vascular surgery

Steps to becoming a surgeon

1. Complete a bachelor’s degree

If you want to be a surgeon, you must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine, biology, or a similar discipline.

To prepare for medical school, your coursework should include many science and math courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, patient interactions, pharmacology, and other medical fundamentals.

2. Take the MCAT exam

As you near the conclusion of your pre-medical education, you should begin to prepare for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which you must pass.

The MCAT is among the most challenging admissions examinations in the professional world. However, you may benefit from forming an MCAT study group as soon as you begin your pre-medical studies.

You can also find private tutors and tutoring services to help you with your preparation.

The best time for pre-med students to take the MCAT is during their junior year. This allows them to apply to medical school in the fall and get admission in the spring following their application.

3. Complete a residency

After graduating from medical school, you will be required to undergo a residency. There are numerous surgical residencies available, ranging from general surgery to pediatric surgery. This might last five to seven years, depending on the residency you attend.

During your residency, you will obtain extensive knowledge of surgical operations. You will begin to work with your patients and perform operations under the supervision of a licensed doctor near the end of your residency.

Finally, you will take Step 3 of the USMLE right before or during your first year of residency. Hence, you can apply for a medical license after finishing this stage.

4. Obtain a license

To practice, all states require doctors, including surgeons, to have a medical license. And to apply for your license, you must provide proof of your degree as well as proof that you passed all three steps of the USMLE.

However, some states may require extra requirements, so it is a good idea to read the rules before applying. You will also need to renew your license by your state’s recent regulations.

5. Earn professional certifications

Surgeons must also be certified to practice. You can earn multiple certifications from the American Board of Medical Specialties depending on your specialty.

Becoming an American Board of Medical Specialties certified surgeon can prove to employers that you have substantial knowledge in your profession and boost your employment chances.

Finally, to obtain a surgery certification, you must provide documentation of expertise, write and an exam which you must pass. However, every certification has renewal requirements.

6. Join a fellowship

After completing a residency, you can specialize by completing a fellowship. There are numerous fellowships available, each lasting one to three years.

Even though fellowships are not important, you can choose to complete one if there is a specialty in which you are particularly interested. Joining fellowships can also boost your earning potential once completed.


What skills do surgeons need?

To be successful in their careers, surgeons must possess the following skills: Paying attention to detail, communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.

How much do surgeons earn?

The average annual salary for a surgeon is $196,457, however, salaries can range from $42,000 to $533,000 per year.

Surgeons’ salaries also depend on how much experience, the size, type, and location of the facility where they work.


Becoming a surgeon is a common professional route in the medical sector, which requires many years of educational experience.

As one of the highest-paying professions in the United States, it is a financially rewarding career path for many ambitious medical professionals. However, you must be prepared for the hard work of pre-med school, medical school, and your residency.

In addition to a good salary, you and your family will have great health benefits. Your employer may also give you a bonus or other financial incentives.

I hope you found this article helpful. You can also read to know the difference between doctors and physicians.

Thanks for reading.