There are some careers that are widely held to be so incredibly challenging that people use them as the definition of something difficult. When someone wants to say that a task isn’t that hard, they’ll often say something like “it’s not exactly brain surgery.” There are people out there, though, who actually manage to perform brain surgery and even make their career out of it. While that’s all anyone who’s highly driven and competitive needs to know to be interested, it’s worth taking a much closer look before you decide you want to commit. It’s an amazing job, but also a very demanding one.
Virtually all doctors are paid well, but this is especially true for those who go into difficult specialties. Someone who is working as a neurosurgeon can expect to make in excess of half a million dollars a year, depending on their exact choice of where to live and how successful in the specialty they are. In 2010, the average salary for the field was a little over $750,000. Successfully making it to the level where you’re widely known as a neurosurgeon is about as close as you can get to having a guarantee you’re going to make an extremely comfortable living.
Of course, you have to work very hard in return for that money. Surgeons do delicate work, and the lives of their patients depend on them. In the human brain, in particular, it’s very difficult to know exactly what you’re working with before you’re in the midst of the surgery. Because of this, procedures can actually include a stage where they create a kind of map of the patient’s brain. Using some questions and physical probing, they improve their sense of where different functions are located in a specific brain so they can work around the areas where cutting is most likely to cause lasting problems.
To become a neurosurgeon, you have to be prepared to function under tremendous pressure. It’s a job where you literally stand over a table with the knowledge that a small slip could kill the person in front of you. In exchange for that, though, it’s a job that pays very well and offers the satisfaction of saving lives as a regular event.