How Many Years Does It Take To Become A Surgeon?

This article describes about how many years it takes to become a qualified surgeon by completing the necessary education requirement.

TCM Staff

6th June 2020

In the United States, being a surgeon is one of the respectful, well paid and highly educated professions among the healthcare industry. With an average job growth of 7% during the period of 2018 to 2028, this is also one of the high paying professions with an average salary of $393,965 annually. 

Surgeons are specialised professionals in treating medical conditions, injuries, diseases and other issues through surgical operations. Their roles also include examining the body conditions of patients, diagnostic testing, plan the treatments, conduct surgeries and also provide postoperative care to accelerate the patient’s recovery phase.

With high job satisfaction, high earning and various other perks most students interested in entering the medical field aim at becoming a surgeon. To start off with a successful career, you must be aware about the inside-out of the profession. One common question is how long it might take to become a surgeon and this article will give a targeted answer.

How long does it take to become a Surgeon?

To become a qualified surgeon, it takes about 10-14 years to complete the necessary education, residency programs, license,and to clear the exams. 

Bachelor’s degree: 4 years

A bachelor's degree pre-medical degree that prepares you for further medical schooling. 

During the period of 4 years, you are offered 120-128 credits to complete the coursework such as biology, health science, chemistry, physics, kinesiology, english, mathematics and other. 

This also acts as foundation to acquire the basic knowledge and complete the prerequisites required. You are also offered with internship opportunities to understand the practical concepts and expose yourself to real world problems. 

Completing this undergraduate program and clearing the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) gives you the eligibility to to pursue a medical program.

Medical School: 4 years

Aspiring students are required to take up a medical school program as the next step, to earn a-

  • Medical Doctor (M.D.) - If you want to practice allopathic medicine

  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree - To practice osteopathic medicine. 

In a medical school, the initial 2 years are spent on learning theoretical concepts and advanced courses such as biochemistry, physiology, human anatomy, pharmacology, pathophysiology, microbiology, and preventative medicine. The last two years are then dedicated to practice medicine in clinical settings under the guidance of specialized doctors. 

Residency Program: 3 years or more

After completing your education, you are then required to gain experience and practice at a residency program. Usually a residency program is to train you on what you want to specialize in. For example, it could be orthopedic, neurological, cardiovascular, thoracic, obstetrical, pediatric, or reconstructive.

In the initial years, you are termed as an intern where you treat patients under supervision of specialised surgeons. The coming years offer an in-depth practice in the fields of our choice. According to American Medical Association (AMA), the period of a residency program could be about 5 years with a combined fellowship program. 

Fellowship: 1-2 years

A fellowship is a program to offer particular subspecialities according to your needs. This is an optional step which is chosen by doctors who want to enhance their skills and advance their knowledge. This additional training program is usually offered by combining with the residency program for 5 years. 


Finally, a surgeon plays an important role in the healthcare industry. While the patient is in a critical condition at the operation theater, a surgeon is one who utilizes the skills and knowledge to save them.

With the increased demand of surgeons, you could choose to pursue this path and get various opportunities. Even Though the process of becoming a surgeon is time consuming, the return is worth the investment!

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