At some point in college or med school, you probably realized that physicians in specialties earn considerably higher salaries than physicians that focus on primary care.
According to Medscape, the average primary care physician in the United States earns approximately $243K per year. At the same time, specialists earn an average of $346K per year.
Among specialists, surgeons fare even better. Plastic surgeons earn an average of $479K per year, and general surgeons make an annual salary of $364K.
But what about vascular surgeons? Where do they fall on the salary spectrum?
Here’s our breakdown on how much vascular surgeons earn, where they make the most, and what factors affect those earnings.
How Much Does a Vascular Surgeon Make?
Vascular surgery is one of the top-paying specialties in medicine.
It takes a particular level of expertise to perform surgery on blood vessels, veins, and arteries. Hence, most vascular surgeons spend between five and seven years in residency (plus an extra two or three-year fellowship for those looking to specialize in cardiovascular or cardiothoracic surgery).
And those years of additional training and education result in one thing:
A higher average salary than most general surgeons and other physicians.
Here are the salary estimates and national averages for full-time vascular surgeons in the United States, (according to various online sources):
|Entry-level||Average Annual Salary||Experienced|
The average total compensation for vascular surgeons varies depending on base salary, bonuses, and incentives.
According to Doctor-Salaries.com, bonuses range from an average of $12,500 per year up to $22,500. The amount depends on years of experience level and other considerations.
And while the salary range varies quite a bit, one thing is for certain:
Experienced vascular surgeons earn considerably more than most other physicians.
The Doximity figures show that the average salary for a vascular surgeon was $534,508 in 2020, with those in the highest percentiles of their field earning even more. This puts vascular surgeons remarkably high on the list of overall physician salaries.
Only four other surgical specialties (including neurosurgery and thoracic surgery) earn more.
What Factors Affect a Vascular Surgeon’s Salary?
Vascular surgeon salaries vary for several reasons. It’s crucial to weigh all these factors when considering a new job opportunity or renegotiating a higher salary contract.
Here are the key factors that can affect how much you make as a vascular surgeon:
Level of Experience
The amount of experience you have is always a determining salary factor, regardless of job title, specialty, or what healthcare sector you work in. The more years you practice and the more benchmarks you reach in your career, the higher a salary you can command.
But it’s where you work that has the most significant effect on how much you’ll make.
Don’t assume that you’ll earn more working as a vascular surgeon in New York City, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. While the cost of living in these cities is higher than in most parts of the country, that’s not what determines a physician’s salary. The concept of supply and demand holds much more weight.
Where physicians are in need, hospitals and healthcare groups are willing to pay more.
According to data from ZipRecruiter, these states pay vascular surgeons the most and the least:
Highest Paying States: (annual average salary)
- Washington: $406,336
- Maryland: $401,169
- Nebraska: $392,798
- Virginia: $387,644
- New York: $387,188
Lowest Paying States: (annual average salary)
- North Carolina: $264,429
- Missouri: $284,048
- Illinois: $288,659
- Mississippi: $289,526
- Michigan: $290,107
Vascular Surgeon Salaries by Region
Vascular surgeon salaries can range quite a bit from state to state. If you’re considering looking for a new position but aren’t sure of what state you want to work in, knowing which regions of the country pay the most (or least) can help you decide.
According to a recent MGMA Physicians Compensation Report, here’s how vascular surgery salaries vary per year from region to region:
- West: $450,000
- South: $410,437
- Midwest: $400,000
- East: $375,000
Female physicians know all too well that a gender wage gap exists in medicine. 2018 data shows that the gender wage gap for all physicians is 25.2%. Meaning that if a male physician earns $264,000 per year, a woman doing the exact same job will earn $212,000.
As for vascular surgeons, studies show that the gender wage gap is 20%, which is higher than it is in many other specialties. It’s worth noting that female students DO NOT pay 20% less for college and medical school tuition, putting women at a disadvantage from day one.
Across all industries, Census Bureau compensation data indicates that women in the US earn just 82 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts earn — with vascular surgeons and other physicians earning even less than that.
There are some cities, however, where the gender wage gap is much narrower. In Birmingham, AL, women earn an average of 9% less. In Bridgeport, CT, they make approximately 10% less.
Cities with the greatest gender wage gap include Louisville, KY, at 40% less, and New Orleans, LA, at 32% less.
What Regions Have the Greatest Demand for Vascular Surgeons?
As discussed above, the regions that pay the highest vascular surgery salaries are those in which hospitals and medical centers have a shortage of physicians.
Along with orthopedic surgeons, pediatric surgeons and physicians who practice general surgery are in high demand in many regions of the country.
There is an overall shortage of vascular surgeons in the US, and trend reports predict that there will be a shortage for the next twenty years.
The NIH National Library of Medicine predicts this physician shortage by taking into account the annual rates of certificates, how many physicians retire each year, and the effects of burnout. As life expectancy increases, the demand for services continues to be more than the number of adequate, board-certified surgeons that exist to provide those services.
Hospitals and healthcare groups in large metropolitan areas usually don’t have a problem finding, hiring, and retaining vascular surgeons. But institutions in small markets, medium-sized cities, and rural areas often do. Because they are in demand across the board, vascular surgeons tend to want to work in larger metro areas that offer better amenities.
Suppose you are willing to work in a rural area or underserved region, though?
In that case, you have a much better chance of commanding a more competitive salary than surgeons with the same level of experience in large cities.
Find out the 10 Best States to Practice Medicine in.
Vascular Surgeons Need to Hire a Contract Review Specialist
As a new surgeon, it can be tempting to want to grab an open position, accept the salary offered to you, and get to work as a full-time physician. After all those years in med school and residency, it makes sense that young vascular surgeons are eager to start earning a real paycheck.
But after you receive an offer, there’s one more important thing you’ll need to do:
Sign a contract.
Physician employment contracts are intricate legal documents that include all sorts of details. Employment contracts include the specifics of your salary, benefits, and job responsibilities. They include termination clauses and non-compete clauses. They also detail who will be responsible for paying which types of insurance.
Before you sign any employment contract, you need to hire a contract review specialist to review it for you.
You may think they’re offering a fair compensation and benefits package, but a contract review lawyer will be able to tell you if that’s actually the case. They’ll know what fair compensation is for the region you plan to work in, and they can even negotiate on your behalf to get you a better deal.
Do not sign a contract without having it reviewed thoroughly. Contact Physicians Thrive now if you’re ready to sign a new contract or renegotiate an existing employment agreement.
Related reading: When Physicians Should Walk Away From a Job Offer
How to Manage Your Salary and Build Wealth as a Vascular Surgeon
As a physician, your primary goal may be to provide excellent patient care, make advancements in science and medicine, and save lives.
And while those are all noble, valiant reasons to work in medicine, practicing as a high-earning vascular surgeon offers you another opportunity as well:
The opportunity to build wealth.
For high-earning surgeons, there are three key things you can do to manage your salary and build wealth. You deserve to be able to enjoy your later years as a retired physician.
One way to build wealth throughout your career is to put a strategic retirement plan in place early on. And we’re not just talking about contributing to a 401k or an IRA. There are many opportunities that high-earning vascular surgeons can invest in to maximize their earnings and have more money to spend in retirement.
Watching the balance in your savings account grow can be a rather satisfying experience. But stashing cash aside is not the way to grow wealth over time. Cash is subject to the inflation tax, whereas investments in stocks, bonds, and real estate are not.
Early on in your career, meet with a financial advisor or planner to guide you into making smart investments — diversified investments — in various growth vehicles.
Be Proactive in Tax Planning
Putting a portion of your paycheck into a 401k, IRA, or deferred compensation plan won’t just make it easier to save for retirement. It will reduce your tax burden as well.
You can build wealth and save more money for retirement if you take a proactive approach to tax planning when you’re young. This includes knowing where to put money that will grow tax-free over time. As well as, taking advantage of retirement and savings accounts that can reduce your tax burden this year.
The less you owe in taxes each year, the more opportunities you’ll have to invest in stocks, bonds, and real estate.
The best tax planning tricks are to:
- Formulate a long-term plan
- Revisit that plan regularly to make sure it’s still working
- Be willing to invest your money in ways that can reduce your taxable income each year that you work.
Learn more in our Full Guide to Physician Tax Planning
Protect Your Income With Disability Insurance
The entire premise of building wealth relies upon the fact that you’ll earn a steady, significant amount of income every year of your career.
And the best way to ensure that happens is to have an individual disability insurance policy.
Disability insurance isn’t a way to protect what you have. It’s a way to protect the future income that you haven’t yet earned.
With disability insurance, you can continue to earn a portion of your salary (usually up to 60%) if you become too ill, injured, or disabled to work. Depending on your policy terms, you can collect benefits for ten years, twenty years, or even until you reach retirement age.
There are various types of policies that surgeons can get, and they have different definitions of disability.
To collect benefits, be sure to select a policy that includes a “true own-occupation” definition of disability. This ensures that you can continue to collect part of your salary in your specialty. (Especially essential for vascular surgeons and other high-earning specialists.)
Disabilities and injuries can occur at any time. The younger you are in your career, the more critical it is to have disability insurance. If you’re in the first half of your career and still haven’t attained a disability insurance policy, contact Physicians Thrive now.
When it comes to disability insurance providers, do you know the Big 6?
Vascular surgeons can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more per year than primary care physicians and other specialists.
Turn your salary as a surgeon into long-term wealth with:
- The proper investments
- A proactive approach to tax planning
- And disability insurance income protection.
Ultimately, your vascular surgeon salary should benefit you, protect your family, and set you up for a comfortable retirement.
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