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How to become a Surgeon

Surgeons perform surgery to correct deformities, repair injuries, prevent and treat diseases, and improve human functioning and appearance.

If you have a steady hand, an inquiring mind, and work well under intense pressure, then this might be the career for you.


About you:


  • good communication skills
  • high ethical standards
  • compassionate towards others
  • high level of motivation and self-discipline
  • excellent hand-eye coordination, excellent vision and visuospatial awareness
  • above average dexterity
  • good organisational ability and decision-making skills
  • emotional resilience, a calm temperament and the ability to work well under pressure
  • physical stamina to cope with the demands of surgery
  • the ability to lead and manage a team effectively


The job:


  • examine patients to determine medical state, necessity of surgery, and surgical risk
  • analyse patient medical history, allergies and examination results to decide best courses of action
  • consulting with Anaesthetists regarding the correct anaesthesia for patients
  • selecting the best operational procedures and performing operations
  • prescribe pre-operative and post-operative treatments to patients including sedatives and antibiotics
  • refer patients to other medical specialists and exchange relevant medical details
  • explaining risks to patients
  • examining instruments, equipment, and surgical set-up to ensure that antiseptic and aseptic methods have been followed
  • instructing other medical, nursing and associated staff regarding the preparation of patients and instrument and equipment requirements
  • prescribing post-operative care, and observing and investigating patients’ progress
  • maintaining records of operations performed
  • may specialise in particular types of operations


Lifestyle Impact: High


  • Part Time opportunities: Low – around 13% of Surgeons work part-time (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • Average hours for full-time workers: 56 hours a week, which is well above average (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • Physicians’ salary (average) $175,000* per year (source: seek.com.au). *Salaries greatly vary depending on your skills and experience.
  • Future career growth: Strong (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
  • You will be doing most of your work indoors, in hospitals and clinics.
  • This is a job that demands long work hours, and you may be called to work at any time of the day or night. You may also need to work over holidays and weekends.


Surgeons are most in demand in these locations:


This is a relatively small occupation, with around 9,800 people working as Surgeons in Australia in 2020 (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au). Demand for Surgeons is highest in South Australia. Most Surgeons work in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry.


How to become a Surgeon in Australia


You will need to complete both university-level study and further practical training in order to work as a Surgeon in Australia.


Step 1 – Complete Year 12 with a focus on English and Maths.


Step 2 – Complete an accredited medical program in Australia – this can be either undergraduate or postgraduate. You can see all of the Ahpra-approved programs of study here.


Step 3 – Complete an internship before applying for general registration with Ahpra’s Medical Board.


Step 4 – Complete a fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and further specialist training, before applying for specialist registration.


Step 5 – Start working as a fully qualified Surgeon.


Find out more here –





Similar Careers to Surgeon


Medical Doctor



General Practitioner (GP)

Registered Nurse



Aged Care Worker


Find out more about alternative careers.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What options are there for career progression?


There are lots of specialisations you might like to consider, including Cardiothoracic Surgery, General Surgery, Neurosurgery, Orthopaedic Surgery, Otolaryngology, Paediatric Surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Urology, or Vascular Surgery.


Do I need to go to university to become a Surgeon?


You will need to complete a university degree, as well as several years of additional training, before you can work as a Surgeon.


Where do Surgeons work?


Surgeons might work in hospitals, private practices or community medical centres, and may also focus on research or medical administration.


What are 3 things I can do right now to help me become a Surgeon?


If you’re in high school and you’d like to find out if a career as a Surgeon is right for you, here’s a few things you could do right now:

  1. Start researching your study options. Applications can be extremely competitive and you’ll need to work hard to secure a place.
  2. See if you can find work experience in health or medicine. This will help you see if you might enjoy the work, and can help you start building important contacts for the future.
  3. Talk to a Surgeon to see what a day in their life is like. If you don’t know anyone, see if you can watch videos or documentaries about a career in health.

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