Thoracic Surgeon

Perform surgery on the heart, lungs and the surrounding area of the body.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
~ $215,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Thoracic Surgeons do?

Surgery is serious business. Gone are the days when patients were sliced open in a rudimentary attempt to see if there’s something to be done. Today’s Surgeons are able to gather detailed information and make a diagnosis before the scalpel ever enters the room. And with the advancements in technology, Surgeons are able to do more intricate work than ever before.

Thoracic Surgeons are a type of surgical specialist that has evolved from the realm of general surgery. Instead of having an in-depth understanding of every organ in the body, Thoracic Surgeons specialize in treating conditions within the chest cavity.

As a Thoracic Surgeon, you don’t dabble in knee surgery, assist in brain surgery, or unplug an obstructed bowel. Instead, you work on the heart, lungs, esophagus, and surrounding area. Because you’re so specialized in your work, you perform the same types of surgeries frequently. Common procedures include heart surgery, pacemaker insertion, or even a heart transplant.

Other Surgeons specialize, too, so you may find yourself working side by side in the operating room with an Emergency Room Physician, a Surgical Oncologist, or a Vascular Surgeon. You may even hold the title of Cardiothoracic Surgeon, meaning you specialize in the heart with additional training in and around the chest cavity.

Not only do you perform surgery, but you also diagnose and treat the patient before and after surgery. In addition, you might use your knowledge for research or teaching.

Should I be a Thoracic Surgeon?

You should have a doctoral degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.

  • Also known as: Pulmonary Surgeon

    How to become a Thoracic Surgeon

    Most Thoracic Surgeons have a Doctorate. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaaaa9&chl=|||bachelor%27s+%281%25%29||doctorate+%2899%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,99
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