Doctors and other health care professionals earn high salaries. Those trusted with keeping patients healthy and even saving lives when necessary certainly deserve to be well-compensated. Securing a high-paying career in the medical field requires extensive education and training, and the daily schedules of medical professionals are commonly disrupted and inconsistent due to the unpredictable need for their services.
While obtaining employment in health care requires dedication, time, and a substantial financial investment, a career in the medical field is one of the most secure in the world. The health care industry is never going away; people will always need medical care, no matter what shape the economy is in. While nearly all jobs in the health care industry pay well, several are among the highest-paying jobs in the United States.
Anesthesiologists are medical doctors who keep patients pain free and safe during surgery by administering anesthetic. They make sure patients are stable and comfortable throughout the procedure and in postoperative care.
Anesthesiology is a prestigious and lucrative field of medicine, and it requires extensive education and expertise. In addition to a bachelor's degree and four years of medical school, anesthesiologists must work one year as unpaid interns and another three years in paid residency programs. In addition to regularly scheduled surgeries, anesthesiologists are almost always on call because an emergency surgery could be necessary at any time. As of 2015, anesthesiologists earn a mean annual salary of $272,000.
Surgeons operate on the human body, performing a wide variety of procedures in the event of illness, injury or disease. Surgeons execute the procedures and are in charge of all aspects of the surgery process. Surgeries range from just a few minutes long to several tedious hours, requiring full attention and focus throughout.
Having surgery is expensive, and surgeons are very well paid for their work. Most begin as general surgeons, making a mean annual salary of $249,000, before specializing further with higher earnings potential. In addition to bachelor's degrees, almost all surgeons complete at least four years of medical school, and three to eight years in internship and residency programs.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons treat dental and medical issues with the oral cavity and the bones and soft tissues of the forehead, face and cheekbones. While oral and maxillofacial surgery is considered a dental specialty, the type of work is more complex than what a dentist does.
For a career in this field, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are required to have bachelor's degrees, four-year dental degrees, and four to six years of residency. Many oral and maxillofacial surgeons have twice the student loan debut by earning degrees in both dentistry and medicine, because many of the procedures they perform combine dentistry practices with medical expertise.
Oral surgeons work long hours and are often on call 24 hours a day, since emergencies requiring immediate treatment may occur at any time. The mean annual salary for oral and maxillofacial surgeons is $245,000.
Obstetricians and Gynecologists
An obstetrician and gynecologist (OB/GYN) is a physician who provides specialized medical and surgical care to women and has specific expertise in pregnancy, childbirth and disorders of the reproductive system. Because of the unpredictable nature of labor and delivery, the work schedule of an obstetrician and gynecologist is highly variable, and professionals in this field are almost always on call.
To become an OB/GYN, medical school graduates must complete four-year residency training programs under the supervision of more senior physicians. The mean annual salary for obstetricians and gynecologists is $216,000.