Orthopedic surgeons are usually the highest earning groups of doctors with estimates of the average yearly salary for a general surgeon ranging from $300,000 to over $500,000 per year. Specialist surgeons, such as spine or hip-and-joint surgeons, can earn even more: as much as $600,000 to $700,000 annually as of 2013.
Following spine and hip and joint specialists, the third-highest earning group is sports medicine specialists, followed by hand and then pediatric surgeons. Still, even the lowest earning group, those specializing in foot and ankle surgeries, earned an average salary of nearly $500,000 in 2011.
The lowest paid 10 percent of orthopedic surgeons, usually general surgeons, earned an average of approximately $260,000 according to 2013 statistics. This was over $70,000 more than the average salary of psychiatrists, pediatricians and general practitioners who are the lowest-earning group of doctors with an average base salary around $189,000.
Although they earn a large salary, orthopedic surgeons cannot start working until they are much older because they first need to complete a four-year bachelor's degree followed by four years of medical school and between five and eight years of a residency program. They also must pass a licensing exam after medical school after which time they are a licensed physician and can start working. However, they cannot become a fully licensed orthopedic surgeon without completing the specialized residency.