The Average Cost of Becoming a Surgeon

Undergraduate Education

The first step that’s required for becoming a surgeon is to obtain an undergraduate degree and take the Medical College Admissions Test. The cost of obtaining an undergraduate degree on the way to becoming a surgeon depends on whether a student is attending a private or public school. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, in 2010 private nonprofit four-year colleges charged an average of $27,293 per year in tuition. Public four year colleges charge in-state residents an average of $7,605 and out of state residents $11,990, according to College Board. Some aspiring surgeons choose to attend a less-expensive school as an undergraduate to reduce the total cost of becoming a surgeon. The median premedical education debt held by the medical school graduating class of 2010 was $20,000.

Medical School Tuition

The second step required for becoming a surgeon is to apply to and complete four years of medical school. The cost of attending medical school at a public medical school is much lower than going to a private medical school. The median cost of attendance at public medical schools in 2010 was $49,298, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges. The median cost of attendance at private medical schools was $66,984. Public medical schools charge students that are residents of the state the medical school is located in significantly less money than students who do not live in-state. This tuition difference varies from school to school.

Medical School Debt

Approximately 86 percent of the medical school graduating class of 2010 graduated with debt, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges. Thirteen percent of graduates had more than $250,000 in debt, 30 percent had more than $200,000 in debt, 59 percent had more than $150,000 in debt, and 78 percent had more than $100,000 in debt.

Residency Salary

After completing four years of medical school, the next requirement for becoming a surgeon is to complete a five-year general surgery residency program. Surgical residency programs pay their residents approximately $50,000 each year and provide slight salary increases year after year. Aspiring surgeons have to start paying back their medical school loans when they begin their residency, but programs exist such as income based repayment which limits the size of monthly loan payments during residency training.

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