What Qualifications Do I Need to Be a Surgeon?

Becoming a surgeon entails lengthy, intensive education and licensure from your state medical board. Once you've completed state-mandated requirements, you can pursue additional certifications by professional organizations. Review the requirements for becoming a surgeon in more detail here. Schools offering Surgical Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Qualifications

Considering the nature of the work, it's not surprising that you'd need to meet some stringent qualifications to become a surgeon. In addition to needing personal characteristics such as being ethical, self-motivated, able to work under pressure, and detail-oriented, you can expect to undergo many years of education and a rigorous licensing process. Besides being academically qualified and licensed, you should be able to think quickly, be able to stand long hours in the operating room, and be devoted to administering quality medical care.

Important Facts About Surgeons

Mean Salary (2014) $240,440 per year
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 18% growth
Work Environment Physicians offices, hospitals, universities and professional schools, outpatient care centers, state government
Similar Occupations Dentists, chiropractors, optometrists, physician assistants, podiatrists, registered nurses, veterinarians

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education

All physicians, including surgeons, must first complete an undergraduate degree program, usually in a science area such as biology or chemistry. Following undergraduate school, you then must complete four years of medical school and a three-year residency. After that, a multi-year internship in the surgery department of a hospital is required. The duration of this internship can vary, depending on the surgical specialty. After completing this advanced training, you'd then be qualified to start your own surgery practice or work as a lead surgeon in hospitals.

Licensing

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) notes that physicians and surgeons must be licensed in all U.S. states and territories. Specific licensing requirements may vary by state. In California, for instance, recognition by the state medical board requires four years of medical school and six years of clinical instruction. Many states have reciprocity agreements with other states, making it easy for you to transfer your license to another state. Some states, though, make it difficult to transfer licenses, and you may need to complete additional examinations. To obtain licensure, you must also pass the nationally mandated United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

Board Certification

After earning state licensure, you might want to consider getting certified by one of the organizations that deal specifically with surgery. The American Board of Surgery (ABS), founded in 1937, offers certifications in general, vascular, and pediatric surgery as well as in surgical critical care. To be eligible for certification by the ABS, you'd need a current license to practice medicine, and you must have completed five years of residency training, with each year including at least 48 weeks of full-time experience.

You must also have participated in a minimum of 750 operations and been the chief resident in general surgery for a year (www.absurgery.org). A comprehensive examination must be passed in a chosen area, such as general surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, or critical care surgery. Although board certification is not absolutely critical for employment, it is a highly sought-after professional credential.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Fortis College

    Fortis College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Fortis College:

    • Certificates

    Campus-Based Programs Available:

    View All Locations
    • Florida: Orange Park
    • Texas: Orange Park, Houston
  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Keiser University

    Keiser University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Keiser University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »