What Is the Salary of an Orthopedic Doctor?

Apr 26, 2020

Orthopedic doctors, like many physicians, earn a high salary compared to most American professions. These professionals earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) like other physicians, but they specialize in problems related to the bones and skeletal system.

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Orthopedic Doctor Salary

Let's explore the typical salary of an orthopedic doctor based on various features and examine an overview of job duties, education requirements, and testing requirements for the career.

According to a February 2020 report from PayScale.com, orthopedic surgeons earned a median annual salary of $379,968. The total compensation package for a physician or surgeon in orthopedics may increase with yearly bonuses and commissions. For example, PayScale.com reported that for the same year that most orthopedic surgeons could expect to make between $134,000 and $622,000 including salaries and bonuses.

Additionally, salary ranges may vary based on work location, employer and experience. Orthopedic surgeons in New York can expect an annual median salary of $360,156, while one in Los Angeles can expect a median of $403,719. Orthopedic surgeons that work solely in orthopedics can expect higher salaries than those in surgery or sports medicine. Experience also plays a role in salaries, as entry-level orthopedic surgeons (0-5 years) earn a median of $319,524, mid-career surgeons (5-10 years) earn $387,647 and late-career surgeons (>20 years) earn $440,017.

Orthopedic Doctor Overview

Orthopedic doctors are medical physicians who specialize in the musculoskeletal system, specifically injuries, such as broken bones, spinal injuries, deformities, and arthritis. Orthopedic surgery, physical therapy, orthopedic pediatrics, and rheumatology are divisions of orthopedics. As orthopedic surgeons, these physicians repair joints, tendons, nerves, muscles, and ligaments.

Though orthopedic doctors are most commonly surgeons, surgery is not always required to fix an injury. These medical professionals are trained to perform non-surgical treatments as well. Physical and occupational therapists often assist orthopedic surgeons during rehabilitation following surgical or non-surgical treatments.


To become an orthopedic doctor, approximately 13 years of schooling are needed, including four years of undergraduate school, four years of medical school, and five years of a residency. A fellowship is optional, but it gives students a chance to focus on their chosen area of specialty, such as joint replacement, sports medicine, or musculoskeletal oncology.

In medical school, students are required to take core courses in biochemistry, biology, anatomy, and physiology. During their final two years, they will take part in clinical rotations, through which they are exposed to all medical specialties, like surgery, pediatrics, and psychiatry.


To practice as an orthopedic physician, medical school graduates must pass the United States Medical Licensure and the American Board of Medical Specialties examinations. Board certification is not required, but many physicians pursue it as an additional credential. Licensing differs by state, though once licensed, the orthopedic doctor may practice in any of the 50 states.

Orthopedic doctors or orthopedic surgeons typically make a median salary of $379,968, according to PayScale.com. These professionals must undergo medical school, residency, and licensing before treating patients with conditions of the musculoskeletal system.

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