Orthopedic Surgeon: Career Info & Requirements

An orthopedic surgery career offers board-certified surgeons the opportunity to specialize in treating the musculoskeletal system, including such subspecialties as sports medicine and hand surgery. The orthopedic surgery career path requires 8-9 years of post-baccalaureate education, along with continued maintenance of board certification. Continue reading for more information about becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

View 8 Popular Schools »

Career Information

Orthopedic surgeons operate on patients with musculoskeletal problems, including arm, leg, neck, bone and tissue ailments. Orthopedic disorders and conditions may range from congenital deformities to musculoskeletal injuries, trauma and tumors. These surgeons perform operations on patients who are under general anesthesia. The field offers qualified individuals the chance to build lucrative careers in hospitals, academic medical centers or private practice environments.

Career and Earnings Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasted 24% growth for physicians and surgeons from 2010-2020, particularly in rural areas of the U.S. where there is a low ratio of physicians to the population (www.bls.gov). The BLS reports that surgeons made an average salary of $230,540 annually as of May 2012. The highest salaries are often found in the private practice arena. Because orthopedic surgery is a popular area of specialty, jobs may be more competitive in traditional environments, such as hospitals and health centers.

Career Requirements

After completing a 4-year bachelor's degree program in biology, pre-medicine or a related field, aspiring orthopedic surgeons must complete four additional years of medical school, followed by a 4- to 5-year orthopedic surgery residency in a hospital. The first year of residency usually covers general surgery, with the remaining years devoted to orthopedic-specific training. Surgeons wishing to specialize further in subspecialties, such as orthopedic sports medicine or pediatric orthopedics, must also complete a 1- to 2-year fellowship after their residency.

Required Licensing and Certification

Like all doctors, orthopedic surgeons must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination to legally practice (www.usmle.org). This exam can be taken in several parts, usually while students are still involved in their residencies. After completing their residencies, orthopedic surgeons must also pass an exam by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery, a division of the American Board of Medical Specialties, in order to be certified in their area of surgery (www.abos.org). Recertification is required every 7-10 years.

Skills Required

Orthopedic surgeons must have a thorough understanding of current medical technologies, medical ethics, pharmacology and physiology. A particular aptitude for musculoskeletal health, disease prevention and treatment is essential.

An orthopedic surgery career also requires an ability to work long hours and make solid decisions under pressure. Orthopedic surgeons must stay abreast of new developments in the orthopedic surgery field.

Show me popular schools

Related to Orthopedic Surgeon: Career Info & Requirements

  • Related
  • Recently Updated
  • Popular
How to Become an Orthopedic Surgeon: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become an orthopedic surgeon. Research the education and career requirements, licensure and experience required...

Orthopedic Surgeon's Assistant Job Information

Students interested in entry-level positions in the surgical field might want to consider preparing to become orthopedic...

Cardiac Surgeons: Career Information for Becoming a Cardiac Surgeon

Discover what it takes to become a cardiac surgeon. Find out the education, training and licensure requirements, as well as...

Registered Orthopedic Technologist: Job Duties and Requirements

Orthopedic technologists are health care professionals who assist orthopedic surgeons in the operating room and specialize in...

Brain Surgeon: Job Description, Salary, Duties and Requirements

Popular Schools

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Idaho (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boise State University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework, Diploma
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
        • Athletic Trainer
        • Medical Radiologic Therapist
        • Respiratory Care Therapy
        • Surgical Technologies
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Southwestern College include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Assisting
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
        • EMT and Paramedic
        • Surgical Technologies
      • Nursing Professions

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics