Medical Specialties: Becoming An ENT (Ear, Nose, And Throat Doctor)

Otolaryngology (also called an ENT or Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor) is a medical and surgical doctor primarily focused on the ear, nose, and throat. What is an otolaryngologist? What is the process of Becoming an ENT? And what kind of lifestyle can you expect?

My wife’s cousin is an ENT.  She told me that he originally wanted to be a surgeon, but then found this specialty which was a mix between being a medical doctor and a surgeon — without the 80 hr/week work schedule.  I have always been very interested in surgery, so the idea that there is a specialty that involves surgery without the insane schedule caught my interest.

What ENT’s Do

ENT specialist

As I said earlier, ENT doctors focus on the ear, nose, and throat.  ENT’s work with patients of all ages, but primarily focus on kids and teens because these demographics most commonly have ENT related illnesses. 

Gap medics says that on average ENT’s do about 250 surgeries a year.  Some procedures an ENT will do include: Nose surgeries for treating sinus problems such as septoplasty and Endoscopic sinus surgery, tonsillectomy, removal of superficial skin cancer, biopsies, PE Tubes (Myringotomy), tympanoplasty, and more.

Lifestyle Of An ENT

Well, first of all, they make some good money. says on average ENT’s make about $341,000, and says on average they make about $370,000.  In private practice settings, ENT’s are expected to make from $400,000 to $600,000 a year.  That’s pretty good for a physician. 

ent salary

Of course, money alone is not a good choice criteria for medicine. However, the mix between life in the OR and treating patients at a medical level while working relatively normal hours might. 

Typically a private practice otolaryngologist will work about 50hrs a week, spending 2 of those days in the OR and 3 days seeing patients depending on his or her practice. 

Because ENT cases are rarely emergencies, ENT doctors have a high degree of flexibility in their schedules.  An ENT can even avoid working nights or weekends by rearranging his or her schedule, allowing more time for family and hobbies.   

50 hours a week is higher than the average full-time job. However, compared to other surgical specialties, an ENT works considerably fewer hours.

The Variety Of Medicine

ENT medicine is anatomically confined to an area of the body instead of confined to a particular practice, meaning anything involved in the ear, nose, and throat region of the body falls under the jurisdiction of the ENT doc. 

They perform a variety of procedures including pediatrics, orthopedics, oncology, and more.  ENT’s also have the opportunity to pursue a variety of subspecialties due to this multiplicity of practice.  Not only this, the medicine an ENT performs is straight-up improvements as opposed to “managing symptoms.” 

From what I hear, providing a deaf individual with an ability to hear is a rather rewarding experience.  

One of the struggles that physicians face is the feeling of not being able to help their patients. An ENT doctor can consistently feel like he or she is making a difference with their patient.

How Do You Become An ENT And How Competitive Is It?

To become an otolaryngologist, you need to do the typical medical profession steps (4 years undergrad, 4 years medical school) followed by a 5-year surgical residency. 

From what I gathered, matching with an otolaryngology program is pretty competitive, and that’s no surprise given the benefits of being one. 

The match rates drop every year.  In order to be a valid contender for this competitive field, you must do well on your USMLE, invest lots of time into research/publications, spend time doing extracurriculars, and overall do very well in rounds.   

Also, like in any specialty or job, networking is key. Become friends with ENT doctors, directors, and anyone involved with different ENT residencies programs. You never know who will be involved in the decision process for matching students into a particular residency program!

Job Market

The common trend I found was that ENT’s are in high demand.  After you struggle your way through medical school and residency, you can rest assured that you will have a job as an otolaryngologist. 

This is pretty much true with any field you go into. In general, there is a demand for doctors and the demand is only growing!


A career as an ENT doctor seems to be very rewarding.  I always tell people, “I don’t want to be attached to any medical profession because people usually change their mind in medical school when they experience everything.”  But honestly, it is very difficult not to get excited about a certain specialty when it seems this beneficial.   

An ENT physician’s career is a blend of medicine and surgery. You have the opportunity to subspecialize in different ENT specialties. Furthermore, you can expect a comfortable lifestyle making plenty of money to support yourself and not having to work crazy hours as some surgical specialties require.

Becoming an ENT requires 4 years of medical school followed by a 5-year residency.

Here’s a youtube video I found of an ENT describing his field.


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