Certified Surgical Technologist Salary Guide

A certified surgical technologist is an allied health professional who works in the operating room. Job duties include sterilizing equipment, passing tools to the surgeon and other team members, retracting tissue to give the surgeon a better view of the surgical site, applying dressings and maintaining a sterile field. Certified surgical technologists also prepare patients for surgery, which typically involves cleaning and disinfecting the operative site to prevent infection. Experienced certified surgical technologists may specialize in cardiology, neurology or other disciplines.

How do you become a certified surgical technologist?

To become a certified surgical technologist, you must complete a 12-month certificate or a 2-year associate degree in surgical technology. Program requirements vary by school, but you should expect to take classes in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, biomedical ethics and principles of surgical technology. If you decide to pursue a 2-year degree, your school may also require you to complete general education courses in English, math and humanities.

In Arkansas, certified surgical technologists must earn licensure through the Arkansas Medical Board to use the Registered Surgical Technologist title. To qualify for a license, you must graduate from a nationally accredited surgical technology program and pass the certification exam offered by the National Center for Competency Testing or the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

What credentials/licensing does a certified surgical technologist require?

Arkansas is the only state that requires a license, but three states require certified surgical technologists to register with a government agency:

  • Colorado: Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies

  • North Dakota: North Dakota Board of Nursing Unlicensed Assistive Person & Medication Assistant Registry

  • Washington: Washington Department of Health

Depending on where you live, you may have to pass the NBSTSA exam before working as a certified surgical technologist. The following states require you to earn the NBSTSA Certified Surgical Technologist credential:

  • Idaho 

  • Indiana

  • Massachusetts

  • Nevada

  • Oregon

  • South Carolina

  • Tennessee

  • Texas

In Arkansas, Illinois and Virginia, the NBSTSA credential is only necessary if you want to use the Registered Surgical Technologist title.

Average Certified Surgical Technologist Salary


The average salary for a Certified Surgical Technologist is $32.23 per hour. This is 26% lower than the practicing US average of $40.48.

Last updated on June 24, 2024. Based on active jobs on Vivian.com.

Salaries for Certified Surgical Technologist compared to Allied Health Professional National Averages


26% lower than the practicing US average.


United States

Where do Certified Surgical Technologists get paid the most?
StateAverage Hourly SalaryMax Hourly Salary
North Carolina$41$48
New York$33$100
What are the highest paying Employers and Agencies for Certified Surgical Technologist jobs?

Last updated on June 24, 2024. Information based on active jobs on Vivian.com and pay data from BLS and around the web.

A Nurse holding a file folder

Certified Surgical Technologist Career Guide

Use our exclusive Career Guides to research the education, qualifications, skills and responsibilities for a variety of healthcare disciplines and specialties employers are hiring now.

Go to the guide
Was this page helpful?

Get alerts about new jobs and salary trends

Be the first to know about new jobs for Certified Surgical Technologists with the salary that suits you.

How can you increase your pay as a certified surgical technologist?

If you entered the field with a certificate, another way to increase your earnings is to return to school for a 2-year or 4-year degree. According to the 2022 Education Pays report from the BLS, the median weekly wage for any professional with an associate's degree is 7.1% higher than the median rate for someone who took college courses but didn't complete their degree.

You may also be able to increase your earnings by focusing on a subspecialty, as specialization typically comes with higher wages. For example, Vivian Health’s April 8, 2023 salary data showed that staff cardiovascular technologist pay averaged $38.51 per hour, a difference of $2.04. If you multiply the hourly difference by 2,080 hours, that's an extra $4,243.20.

How much does a staff certified surgical technologist make?

Vivian Health's salary data for the week ending April 8, 2023, showed that certified surgical technologists earned an average of $36.47 per hour in staff jobs. If you work 40 hours each week, that's a weekly salary of just under $1,459.

Is certified surgical technologist a growing career?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the demand for certified surgical technologists to increase by 6% between 2021 and 2031. As a result of this growth, about 6,500 additional jobs should be available by the end of the 10-year period. Employers may need additional certified surgical technologists to replace retirees, meet the increased demand for healthcare services and staff brand-new medical facilities.

What types of employers/facilities have the most certified surgical technologists employed?

The greatest percentage of certified surgical technologists, 41%, work in general medical and surgical hospitals, according to the BLS. These hospitals may be owned by state and local governments, for-profit businesses or nonprofit organizations. Physician offices employ about 25% of all certified surgical technologists, while dental offices employ 20%. Certified surgical technologists also work in outpatient care centers and the offices of other healthcare practitioners, but these employers only account for 5% of all certified surgical technologist employment.

Which employers/facilities have the highest pay?

Although outpatient care centers make up a small percentage of total employment, they offer the highest wages, followed by physician offices and general medical and surgical hospitals. Dental offices offer about the same pay as physician offices. Companies in the administrative and support services industry offer the lowest salaries to certified surgical technologists.

How does certified surgical technologist pay compare to similar healthcare jobs?

Compared to the pay for other allied health professions, certified surgical technologist pay was higher for staff jobs but lower for travel jobs on April 8, 2023. Vivian Health's salary data showed that staff cardiac catheterization technologist (CCT) wages were $28.66 per hour, which was $7.81 per hour less than the average for certified surgical technologists. In contrast, travel CCTs earned an average of $2,666 per week, or $572 per week more than certified surgical technologists who accepted travel assignments.

Featured Blog Posts

Open article Surgical Technician vs. Surgical Technologist: What’s the Difference?
Surgical Technician vs. Surgical Technologist
Surgical Technician vs. Surgical Technologist: What’s the Difference?
Explore these two roles with important OR duties. Learn which career path is right for you.
Open article Certified Surgical Technologist Programs: In-Person vs. Online CST Programs
RN first assist / Surgical tech
Certified Surgical Technologist Programs: In-Person vs. Online CST Programs
Investigate the pros and cons to determine the right format for you.
Open article Where Do Certified Surgical Technologists Make the Most Money?
Operating room nurses, OR techs, Physician assistant and surgeon
Where Do Certified Surgical Technologists Make the Most Money?
Discover factors that impact salary and top-paying states for staff and travel positions.
See more Blog Posts