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How Much Do Surgical Residents Make?

How Much Do Surgical Residents Make

In this article, I’ll be discussing How Much Do Surgical Residents Make? What it’s like to be a Surgical Resident, and how to become one. If you’re interested to learn more about this profession and not sure where to start, I’ve got it covered! I’ll also be answering the top frequently asked questions about this role. 

So, let’s get straight to it by answering…

What Is A Surgical Resident?

A surgical resident is someone that has graduated from medical school and has earned a medical degree. They then undergo supervised training to become a qualified surgeon, and this can take several years to complete. 

Residents learn how to complete medical assessments and examinations, though as interns, they must complete specialty training before working with patients independently.

What Does A Surgical Resident Do?

Surgical residents are responsible for treating patients that are undergoing surgical operations. They perform health checks and medical examinations to ensure patients are fit and healthy before and after surgery. 

Residents also practice how to perform procedures in laboratories before attending live operations. Usually, interns will be assigned non-medical duties, such as completing paperwork, talking to families of patients, and assisting other medical professionals in hospitals.

Common Tasks For Surgical Residents:

Common Tasks

The role of Surgical Residents is generally multi-faceted and depends on the students’ experience and skills. Listed below are some common responsibilities that surgical residents may have:

  • Completing medical physical examinations and evaluating patients’ histories.
  • Performing health checks, assessing patients, and interpreting results.
  • Preparing patients and ensuring they are in good health before and after surgery.
  • Assisting trained professionals during surgery.
  • Overseeing surgical procedures in a supervised environment.
  • Attending training workshops and practicing surgical procedures.
  • Supporting patients and talking with families.

What Are The Different Types Of Surgical Residents?

Depending on their skill set and years of experience, Surgical Residents are ranked into three categories. These will determine their level of responsibility and what work they’ll be assigned during their training.


Junior residents are also referred to as ‘interns’ and have just graduated from medical school. They have little experience in the field and are therefore assigned less difficult tasks and non-medical work. Juniors will also be supervised more during their training.


Senior residents have more responsibilities compared to Juniors but are still not assigned complicated tasks. They are assigned tasks to develop their medical expertise and skills before progressing onto a higher level of training.


 Chief residents have full autonomy, can effectively make decisions, and deal with more complex medical issues. They are usually in their last year of training, which is typically around five to seven years. At this point, Chief residents have performed many medical tasks and advanced their skills well enough to complete independent operations. They can also offer medical guidance to other junior residents during their training.

How To Become A Surgical Resident

Becoming a Surgical Resident can be an arduous process that can take several years. Medical schools are highly competitive too, which means there are strict instructions to follow. I’ve outlined how to become a Surgical Resident to simplify the process for you…

Gain a Bachelors and Medical Degree

To start training as a Surgical Resident, you’ll first need to complete a Bachelor’s degree. Additionally, you’ll have to complete a Medical Doctor (M.D) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O) degree. These undergraduate qualifications take around four years to complete. 

Submit Your Application To A Medical School

After you’ve completed your education, you’ll then have to apply to a medical school. Before you get accepted, typically, you’ll have to submit university transcript scores and pass an additional test known as the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Lastly, you’ll be required to pass an interview with the admission committee team. 

Attend Medical School

Once your application is accepted, you’ll then have to undergo six to eight years of training at medical school. You’ll spend the first phase of your studies learning about several disciplines related to medicine, such as pharmacology, biology, and chemistry. The second phase of medical school will involve practical tasks and working with patients in a supervised hospital environment.

Complete a Training Program

Once you have graduated from medical school, you’ll then begin your residency training to become a qualified Surgeon. This training program can take up to nine years to complete. Though, the exact length of your program will depend on the area you wish to specialize in.

Get Licenced

Once you have completed your residency training, you’ll then have to apply for your professional license. To get your license, you must take the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). 

All states in the US require surgeons to have a license to practice legally. Though depending on which state you intend to work in, there may be some slight differences in procedure, so check with your local medical board for more details.

How Much Do Surgical Residents Make?

How Much Do Surgical Residents Make

In 2023, Surgical Residents that work full-time are estimated to earn an average of £60,000 a year or around $30 an hour, according to Zip Recruiter. Though the earning potential depends on their expertise and medical specialty. The highest-earning surgeons are residents working in plastic surgery and aesthetic medicine fields and those that work as specialized surgeons.

FAQs About Surgical Residents

Interested to learn more about this role? Well, I’ve included some frequently asked questions about training as a Surgical Resident and becoming a qualified Surgeon.

Where Is The Best Place To Be a Surgical Resident?

According to the latest data, the best place to work as a Surgical Resident is in California. In this state, you’re likely to be paid a higher salary compared to other states in the US. Expect to earn over $70,000 annually for a Surgical Resident role in California. 

Where Can I Find Surgeon Jobs?

You can search for the latest surgeon jobs using job websites like Jobserve and CareerJet. Furthermore, if you’re interested to learn more about this role and what it entails, visit the official Occupational Outlook Handbook on the (BLS) website.

What Is The Job Outlook For Surgical Residents?

The overall job outlook for surgeons is predicted to grow. According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, the employment rate will increase by 3% from 2020 to 2030. This figure, however, is a gradual increase compared to other medical professions. Around 20,000 job openings are reported to become available for surgeons and physicians nationwide every ten years. 

How Long Does It Take To Become a Qualified Surgeon?

Becoming a surgeon is an extensive process. It’s estimated to take around 10-15 years to complete all of your education and training. Though, the exact time it takes to get qualified will differ according to your experience and specialty.  

Where Do Surgical Residents Work?

The large majority of Surgical Residents work in hospitals. But residents can also work in out-patient clinics or doctors’ offices. Residents will sometimes work with families and patients outside of the surgery too.

Read more: How to Become a Surgical Tech

Thinking Of Becoming A Cardiac Surgeon?

Let’s start with a few alternative medical positions, such as my Medical Surgical Nurse Job Description, my Surgical Nurse Job Description, and Cardiothoracic Surgeon Job Description, along with my CRNA Job Description, or perhaps you’d like to know what the Top Highest Paying Medical Jobs are in 2023.

Perhaps you’ve chosen cardiac surgery as your specialization; for that, I have Surgical Suture for Beginners – A complete step-by-step guide for doctors, nurses, paramedics on surgical knots & suturing techniques used in the emergency room, and Minimally Invasive Thoracic and Cardiac Surgery: Textbook and Atlas, all available online today.

For help in your studies, I highly recommend the Mastery of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Cardiovascular Medicine and Surgery, as well as the SCHWARTZ’S PRINCIPLES OF SURGERY, the Johns Hopkins Textbook of Cardiothoracic Surgery, and finally, Cardiothoracic Surgery (Oxford Specialist Handbooks in Surgery), to help guide you.

How Much Do Surgical Residents Make? – Final Thoughts

This role can be physically and emotionally demanding, so it’s important to be prepared. Even though this ambitious profession is rewarding, it is also highly competitive and strenuous. 

To succeed, you must be able to work independently and interact well with patients continuously. You’ll need vital skills such as problem-solving, perseverance, excellent communication, leadership, and most importantly, the ability to acquire and retain expert medical knowledge.

All the very best in your career as a Surgical Resident!

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