Best Jobs in America

CNNMoney/PayScale's top 100 careers with big growth, great pay and satisfying work.

4. General Surgeon
General Surgeon
4
"Being a surgeon is an amazingly fulfilling life," says Dr. Tyler Hughes, a general surgeon in McPherson, Kan. "It's not about how many dollars you have in the bank or who thinks you're important. It's about taking care of a community and knowing you made a difference."
Median pay: $288,000
Top pay: $396,000
10-year job growth: 24.4%
Total jobs*: 859,300

What they do all day? No two days are alike for these in-demand surgeons who often staff trauma units. They can perform a wide range of procedures, from gallbladder removals to esophageal surgery to skin tumor excision. Often the backbone of community hospitals, they see patients and offer surgical recommendations when they're not in the operating room.

How to get the job? General surgeons must undergo rigorous training to be able to perform a vast range of surgeries, so interest in a wide range of surgical and medical disciplines is key. Adaptability also is critical, since advanced techniques and tools for minimally invasive surgeries are always changing.

What's great? What's not? Handling insurance and Medicaid paperwork can be frustrating, but there's nothing more gratifying than saving lives and caring for a community on a daily basis. --G.W.

What they do all day? No two days are alike for these in-demand surgeons who often staff trauma units. They can perform a wide range of procedures, from gallbladder removals to esophageal surgery to skin tumor excision. Often the backbone of community hospitals, they see patients and offer surgical recommendations when they're not in the operating room. --G.W.

Quality of life ratings:
  • Personal satisfaction: A
  • Benefit to society: A
  • Flexibility: C
  • Low stress: C
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*Total jobs is estimated number of people working in broader BLS 'job family.'

Sources: PayScale.com, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and CNNMoney research

Do General Surgeons have great jobs, or what? Are these great jobs, or what?
It's still a tough job market, so when CNNMoney, in partnership with data from PayScale.com, set out to find America's Best Jobs this year, first and foremost we looked for professions that offer great growth opportunities.

Other big factors: pay (how strong it is now, and how fast it's growing), overall job satisfaction, and how many jobs are in the field overall.
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