Steps to Becoming a Brain Surgeon: Requirements & Job Description

Find out the important facts for becoming a brain surgeon. This advanced profession will be outlined by providing the job description, educational background, professional licensing, salary statistics and the job outlook. Schools offering Surgical Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Brain Surgeon Facts at a First Glance

Brain surgeons, or neurosurgeons, diagnose and treat patients' diseases and injuries, specifically related to the brain, spinal cord and the nerves in other areas of the body. Brain surgeons deal with neurological diseases that include, but are not limited to, movement disorders, epilepsy, and headaches. Check out the chart below showing a brief overview of the career:

Degree Required Doctoral or Professional Degree
Education Field of Study Medicine; neurology
Job Duties Diagnose illnesses/injuries; treat ailments through surgeries; examine patients
Licensure/Certification Licensure required- COMPLEX-USA (D.O.s) or USMLE (M.D.s); certification optional-ABMS, ABPS, and AOA
Average Salary (2017) $251,890 per year* (all surgeons)
Job Growth (2016-2026) 14%* (all surgeons)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Brain Surgeon Do?

Becoming a brain surgeon gives you the opportunity to focus on a variety of health issues by diagnosing and performing surgery. These can include ailments such as strokes, tumors, and trauma, in addition to dealing with disorders in the central and peripheral nervous system. Additionally, brain surgeons treat congenital anomalies and diseases that negatively impact the spine. As it is a very complex type of medical specialization, the ability to have the training and experience in this field is extremely important, as you would be focusing on a part of the body that controls its entirety.

What Are the Steps to Becoming a Brain Surgeon?

  • Obtain your bachelor's degree from an accredited university with a suggested study of chemistry, biology, math, physics, and English. Then take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and officially apply to medical schools.
  • Once you have been admitted and begin attending an accredited medical school, you must attend 4 years of the intensive classroom and hands-on educational experience.
  • After completion of medical school, you will then go onto a residency program in neurology; this will typically last from 5-7 years.
  • All surgeons and physicians take either the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) which is required for M.D.s or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMPLEX-USA) required for D.O.s in their state of practice.
  • During your residency, you will be able to take an exam in a specialty certification that would include the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS), or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

How Much Will I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary of a surgeon is $251,890 per year in May 2017. While these wages are well above the average American salary, surgeons are known to work long hours, overnight shifts, and quite irregular schedules. Within this schedule, brain surgeons may have to travel between hospitals or clinics and occasionally are on call for emergency circumstances.

What is The Job Outlook?

Jobs for surgeons are expected to see a 14% growth between 2016-2026, which is faster than the average career. The demand is expected to increase due to the growing and aging population. Furthermore, the demand in rural and low-income areas is predicted to be very strong because of difficulties obtaining and maintaining doctors.

Are There Any Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in a shorter education but still find interest in this field, you could look at becoming a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, or a midwife. These fields only require a master's degree, and you would still get to work with patients.

There are other options that require medical degrees, such as becoming a chiropractor, dentist, optometrist, or even a podiatrist. These are all similar fields that provide you with a chance to practice medicine and help patients.

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:

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