Surgical Technician Salary Guide

Surgical technicians, also called surgical techs, play an essential role in keeping patients safe during surgical procedures. Before a procedure begins, the surgical tech typically verifies that the operating room (OR) is clean, then brings the patient from the holding area into the OR. As the procedure progresses, the surgical tech is responsible for maintaining a sterile environment and ensuring that surgeons and other personnel have the right equipment and supplies. Surgical techs are also responsible for sterilizing equipment, putting patients at ease and setting up monitors and different types of OR equipment.

How do you become a surgical tech?

After earning your high school diploma or GED, the first step to becoming a surgical tech is to complete a postsecondary surgical technology program at a community college or vocational school to obtain a certificate or associate degree. Surgical technology programs typically include anatomy, physiology, patient care, medical terminology and biomedical ethics coursework. You may also have the opportunity to complete an internship or clinical experience, ensuring you feel confident in your skills before you apply for your first surgical tech job.

What credentials/licensing does a surgical tech require?

Most employers require their surgical techs to have the Basic Life Support certification offered by the American Heart Association. If they become certified as a surgical technologist, Certified Surgical Technologists must be licensed in Arkansas and obtain the Certified Surgical Technologist credential from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) in the following states:

  • Idaho

  • Indiana

  • Massachusetts

  • Nevada

  • New Jersey

  • Oregon

  • South Carolina

  • Tennessee

  • Texas

If you live in New York, you must get certified by a nationally accredited organization. The NBSTSA credential satisfies this requirement. 

Some states may also require surgical technicians to be certified through the NBSTSA or earn the National Center for Competency Testing’s Tech in Surgery–Certified credential. Even if your state has no certification requirements, seeking professional credentials can benefit your career.

Average Surgical Technician Salary

$23.76/hour

The average salary for a Surgical Technician is $23.76 per hour. This is 71% lower than the practicing US average of $40.74.

Last updated on July 13, 2024. Based on active jobs on Vivian.com.

Salaries for Surgical Technician compared to Allied Health Professional National Averages

$23.76/hour

71% lower than the practicing US average.

$40.74/hour

United States

Where do Surgical Technicians get paid the most?
StateAverage Hourly SalaryMax Hourly Salary
North Carolina$40$46
Massachusetts$33$57
Michigan$27$100
What are the highest paying Employers and Agencies for Surgical Technician jobs?

Last updated on July 13, 2024. Information based on active jobs on Vivian.com and pay data from BLS and around the web.

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Surgical Technician Career Guide

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How can you increase your pay as a surgical tech?

One of the best ways to increase your pay as a surgical tech is to obtain the CST certification from NBSTSA to transition to a certified surgical technologist. According to Vivian Health's job listings for certified surgical technologists on April 5, 2023, staff roles paid up to $45, while travel CST jobs paid as much as $3,552 weekly.

Another viable option is to get certified in a subspecialty. For example, if you're interested in cardiovascular procedures, get certified as a cardiovascular operating room technologist. While this job paid an average of $38.12 per hour for staff CVOR techs, travel wages averaged $2,952 per week, according to Vivian Health's salary data on April 1, 2023.

Is surgical tech a growing career?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics monitors employment trends in all 50 states. Based on data collected in May 2021, the agency expects the demand for surgical assistants and technologists to increase by 6% between 2021 and 2031. Some states have much higher rates of projected growth. For example, BLS analysts expect the demand for surgical techs to increase by 10% in California and 12% in Oklahoma.

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

State, local and private hospitals hire the most surgical techs, accounting for 72% of all employment in this field, per the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook. Another 22% of surgical techs work in physician offices and outpatient care centers. You may also find employment opportunities with dental offices and companies that provide administrative or support services.

Which employers/facilities have the highest pay?

Outpatient care centers, which typically provide same-day surgical services, tend to offer the highest salaries to surgical technicians. Hospitals, physician offices and dental practices pay less than outpatient care centers. However, their average salaries fall within a narrow range, so it shouldn't impact your wages much if you accept a job at one facility over another. Administrative and support services pay the lowest average rates. Remember that travel salaries may buck these trends, as they reflect current market conditions at the time of the offer.

How does surgical tech pay compare to other healthcare jobs?

While staff surgical techs earn an average of $38.12 per hour, staff respiratory therapist salaries averaged $39.32, per Vivian Health's salary data on April 5, 2023. This difference puts surgical techs slightly lower on the salary scale for staff roles. Travel surgical technicians make out a little better. They earned an average of $2,125 per week compared to respiratory therapists, who averaged $2,052 per week in travel assignments, about $73 less.

How much does a staff surgical tech make?

Per Vivian Health's salary data, staff surgical technicians earned an average salary of $38.12 per hour during the first week of April 2023.

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