Orthopedic Surgeon Salary by Region, Practice & Subspecialty

In the top five highest-paid medical specialties, orthopedic surgeons sit only below plastic surgeons.

In this article, we review the salary and bonuses you can expect as an orthopedic surgeon.

We also consider several factors that can help to increase compensation so you can command as much as possible within your field.

Key Takeaways


  • Orthopedic surgeons are among the top five highest-paid medical specialties.
  • The nationwide median salary is around $541,430 per year.
  • Potential earnings can reach up to a million dollars annually with bonuses and benefits.
  • Residents earn about $100,000 annually.
  • Orthopedic surgeons have significant student loan debt, a median of $190,000.

Average Orthopedic Surgeon Salary

The median salary for an orthopedic surgeon nationwide is $541,430.

The compensation ranges from $425,050 in the 10th percentile to $700,470 in the 90th percentile.

Orthopedic surgeons, however, can earn significantly more. With bonuses and other employment benefits in view, one can earn up to a million dollars per year.

As always, the earning potential could be affected by several factors.

Factors That Affect an Orthopedic Surgeon’s Salary

An orthopedic surgeon’s salary can be affected by factors including specialty, region, experience level, etc. Find more details about this below.

1. Region

The income level for orthopedic surgeons varies by the geographical region within the nation. Here is how it breaks down by median salary:

Region Expected Salary
Western U.S $514,812
Eastern U.S $589,055
Southern U.S $655,429
Midwestern U.S $702,480

There is also a slight salary difference relative to the population density of the area where you work.

You may expect to make more in the busiest areas, but it does not necessarily work that way.

As a rule of thumb, demand, and supply often affect salaries for physicians— there’s a better chance of earning more in less populated areas than in more populated zones.

For instance, on the lowest end of the pay scale, orthopedic surgeons make a median salary of $600,000 in metro areas of more than one million people, which is the largest metropolitan size listed.

At the higher end of the pay scale, they make $700,000 in metro areas under 250,000 people.

The next highest salary is for non-metro areas of 20,000 or more, with a salary of $693,508.

2. Years of Experience

In any profession, you can expect to make less starting out and then increase your income as you gain years of experience.

For instance, an orthopedic surgery resident in the United States makes an average annual salary of $100,000.

Considering the average expected pay, this is a huge gap. However, these surgeons can expect to make five percent more than the average in their late careers.

3. Practice Type

Physician-owned practices have the lowest median salary for this specialty, at $487,419. Other majority-owner practices come next, at $606,595.

The highest salary is found through hospital/IDS-owned organizations, which provide a median orthopedic physician salary of $661,923.

There is also a slight difference between practices that have a single specialty versus those with multiple specialties.

You would make more in a single specialty practice, which has a median salary of $655,429, compared to that of a multispecialty practice, at $618,604.

4. Additional Compensation

Additional compensation can be part of your contract negotiations to command a higher income.

Orthopedic surgeons can expect a median bonus of $41,770 per year.

In addition to bonuses, surgeons could potentially earn more income through profit sharing and commissions.

The figures could be anywhere from $99 and $81,000 for profit sharing in this profession and a range of $0 to $52,000 in commissions.

5. Credentials and Specialties

Factors like your education, skills, and certifications all impact your salary.

For instance, you could expect to earn more by gaining board certification in orthopedic surgery or becoming fellowship-trained in a sub-specialty.

Some various skills and specialties change this type of physician’s average base salary.

Here are some examples of skills within orthopedic surgery, according to Payscale data:

Specialties Average base pay
Medicine/Surgery $364,305
General Surgery $365,281
Surgery $395,790
Orthopedics $399,500
Leadership $389,154
Stem Cell Transplantation $423,648
Emergency/Trauma $447,555

Also, orthopedic surgeon salary is often broken down into subspecialties related to the part of the body, population, or other specialty.

Here is subspecialist compensation data on median salary from The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery:

Part of Body Average base pay
Foot/Ankle $247,788
Hand $247,788
Spine $749,623
Other Subspecialties Average base pay
Pediatrics $228,665
Sports Medicine $1,611,517
Reconstruction $1,036,979

Ways for Orthopedic Surgeons to Increase Their Salary

While your salary compensation improves as you transition from the early stage of your career to the mid-and late stages, you can actively take some steps to earn even more.

There are two main ways to do so:

1. Pick a High-Paying Subspecialty

You can earn more throughout your career by initially choosing one of the higher-paying subspecialties.

As we saw from the data in the field, some top-paying orthopedic surgery subspecialties include spine, oncology, and joint replacement.

2. Strategize Where You Work

You may determine the best location from the start or you may make a strategic career move after gaining some experience.

Either way, choosing certain places to work can increase your compensation considerably.

This includes both the type of practice where you work and the area where the practice is.

Through the data, we saw that you can make significantly more by working for a hospital/IDS-owned organization compared to a physician-owned practice.

You could also think about moving to one of the highest-paid areas in the country for this field, such as the Midwest and a metro area with under 250,000 people.

If you do move, negotiating a relocation bonus can increase your net income even more.

Are You Underpaid?

Are you underpaid?

Speak with one of our Compensation Specialists today and find out! We specialize in:

  • Contract reviews & negotiation
  • Financial planning & management
  • Practice assistance
  • ... and more!

Average Loan Debt for Orthopedic Surgeons

Just as orthopedic surgeons are one of the highest-paid physicians, they are also one of the top when it comes to student loan debt.

In fact, they are number two of the medical specialties with the most debt, with a median total of $190,000 in school debt, dwarfed only by emergency medicine.

Since you make less during residency training and at the start of your career, it can take time before you make the income levels needed to pay off this level of debt.

However, there are some steps you can take to control your debts

For one, you may be able to refinance your loans for a reduced interest rate. This will save you money in the long run as you pay off the loans.

There are also federal loan forgiveness or reduction programs that medical school borrowers may be able to rely on.

Medical institutions and non-profits also offer loan repayment programs for fellows.

This fellowship training could help you pay off your loans while also gaining advanced specialization that helps you earn more.

You may also find employers, such as hospitals, that include loan repayment within the terms of employment.

This factor could provide a benefit for certain employers over others, at least at the beginning of your career.

Further, negotiating the best compensation possible within your career makes it easier to pay off your debts. In the long run, this will make you more satisfied with your income.

Negotiate Your Orthopedic Surgeon Salary & Other Compensation

A major way to impact your salary is through negotiations. This is something to carry out when you first gain a position.

You can also renegotiate when there is a change to your credentials or work situation, such as a new skill, the desire to buy into profit sharing, or a change within your organization.

Total compensation can be more than $150,000 over the base salary when you factor in additional compensation like bonuses and benefits.

Keep total compensation in mind when negotiating your contract.

Beyond base salary, negotiate for things like profit sharing, signing or production bonuses, commissions, and a good benefits package.

You may also want to negotiate your hours and workload. This could provide a better work-life balance or free up additional time for you to earn more.

The people you negotiate with expect to bring the amount down from the number you suggest, so ask for more than you would be satisfied with.

Let Us Help With Contract Negotiations

While orthopedic surgery is your specialty, you may not be as skilled at contract negotiations.

Not everyone is comfortable with this aspect of the job. That’s why it makes sense to hire professionals whose expertise is in contract review and salary negotiations.

Physicians Thrive is that specialist – we have provided contract review and negotiation assistance to over 5,000 physicians nationwide.

We provide these services as our specialty and can help physicians negotiate the maximum salary possible.

Contact us today to learn more!

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