Surgical Tech Salary


Many people are finding that the benefits of becoming a surgical tech far outreach the altruistic self-rewards that come with helping people. Surgical technologist salaries are higher than they ever were and are above average when compared to other occupations that require similar training and educational requirements. For example, a certified surgical tech now earns more than the typical LVN salary.

According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 Occupational Outlook Handbook, approximately 91,500 surgical technologist jobs existed in the United States during 2016. Due to the expected increase in the amount of surgeries required by the aging baby boomer generation, the number of total jobs in the surgical technology field is expected to enjoy a whopping 25% growth rate through 2026. Salaries are expected to climb, as has been the trend.

Surgical Technologist Salary Overview

The median annual income of a surgical tech in 2016 was $44,330, with the median 50 percent earning between $42,490 and $56,910 annually. In 2016, it was $46,345, showing a 6% growth over the previous two years. In 2015, the growth of the median average surgical technician salary has risen to a whopping $42,460, a substantial increase as you’ll see below.

Note: All statistics below are taken from the United States Department of Labor: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Division of Occupational Employment Statistics and is based on their last study of the surgical technologist salaries across the country in March 2016:

Mean wage estimates for surgical technologists:

This is the average wages for surgical technologists, disregarding factors such as location, experience and specialty:

  • Mean hourly wage: $20.41
  • Mean annual wage: $42,460

Percentile wage estimates for surgical technologists:

This is the breakdown of what percentage of surgical technologists are earning what. For example, only 10% of surgical technologists earn $28.44 per hour and $59,150 annually, putting them in the 90th percentile. Adversely, 25% of surgical techs earn approximately $21.32 per hour with $44,345 annual income:

  10% 25% 50% 75% 90%
Hourly $16.49 $19.32 $22.74 $27.16 $32.28
Annual $34,299 $44,345 $47,300 $56,500 $67,150

Industries with the highest levels of employment in surgical technologists:

This chart breaks down which industries providing the most levels of advancement for surgical techs pay the most:

  Hourly Mean Wage Annual Mean Wage
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals $20.06 $41,730
Offices of Physicians $21.57 $44,860
Outpatient Care Centers $21.51 $44,730
Offices of Dentists $18.35 $38,170
Specialty Hospitals $23.01 $47,860


Industries with the highest concentration of employment in surgical technologists:

Here, you can see the difference between the concentration levels of employees (most employed to least) and how that reflects on the average wages:

  Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Outpatient Care Centers $21.51 $44,730
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals $20.06 $41,730
Specialty Hospitals $23.01 $47,860
Offices of Physicians $21.57 $44,860
Offices of Dentists $18.35 $38,170

Top paying industries for surgical technologists:

If you’re looking for an alternative surgical tech job, here are the top paying industries in which to consider looking:

  Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Individual and Family Services $24.10 $50,140
Offices of Other Health Practitioners $23.54 $48,960
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools $23.03 $47,900
Specialty Hospitals $23.01 $47,860
Other Ambulatory Health Care Services $21.96 $45,680

Top paying States for surgical technologists:

By becoming a nationally certified surgical tech, you increase your hiring scope. If you are flexible with relocating, here are the best states in which to earn as a surgical tech:

  Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Nevada $25.96 $53,990
Hawaii $25.16 $52,340
Alaska $25.06 $52,130
California $24.97 $51,940
Massachusetts $23.80 $49,500

States with the highest employment level in surgical technologists:

If your sole concern is landing a job, here are the top states in which to do so. Note, sometimes (as in California), the high pay and high employment rate is ideal for anybody. Of course, this is assuming you have graduated from one of the accredited surgical tech schools. This is due to the large number of urban centers and population:

  Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Texas $20.00 $41,600
California $24.97 $51,940
Florida $18.34 $38,140
New York $22.26 $46,310
Ohio $19.39 $40,330

States with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients in surgical technologists:

This shows you the average wages of surgical techs in highly concentrated employment areas as compared to a larger area. Basically, this means there are relatively large amounts of surgical techs in these places:

  Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
District of Columbia $21.08 $43,840
Mississippi $15.77 $32,800
Oklahoma $16.73 $34,800
Tennessee $17.39 $36,160
South Dakota $17.64 $36,700

Top paying metropolitan areas for surgical technologists:

Here are the best metropolitan areas for surgical technologist salaries:

  Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA $33.78 $70,260
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA $30.58 $63,600
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA $29.39 $61,140
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $29.32 $60,990
Chico, CA $28.32 $58,900
Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, MD $28.14 $58,530
Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville, CA $26.88 $55,900
Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA $26.60 $55,330
Las Vegas-Paradise, NV $26.59 $55,310
Rochester, MN $26.44 $55,000


Metropolitan areas with the highest employment level in surgical technologists:

Self-explanatory, though to note is a higher level of employment doesn’t mean a higher level of pay (compare with chart directly above) The pay listed below is for potential employees who have received proper surgical tech training.

  Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ $23.41 $48,700
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA $23.22 $48,290
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX $21.88 $45,500
Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX $19.50 $40,560
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV $20.90 $43,480
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL $20.93 $43,540
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA $20.02 $41,640
Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ $23.47 $48,820
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA NECTA Division $24.28 $50,500
Baltimore-Towson, MD $22.75 $47,320

Non-metropolitan areas with the highest employment rate for surgical technologists:

Take specific note of how non-metropolitan areas with high levels of employment have a few of the lowest surgical tech salaries:

  Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Eastern Texas non-metropolitan area $17.10 $35,560
Balance of Lower Peninsula of Michigan $19.57 $40,710
Other North Carolina non-metropolitan area $17.59 $36,590
Northeast Mississippi non-metropolitan area $15.00 $31,190
West Kentucky non-metropolitan area $17.61 $36,630

Metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients in surgical technologists:

  Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Florence, SC $17.97 $37,370
Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ $20.38 $42,380
Jackson, TN $16.44 $34,200
Rochester, MN $26.44 $55,000
Johnson City, TN $16.45 $34,220
Gainesville, FL $17.63 $36,670
Abilene, TX $14.99 $31,190
Tyler, TX $17.57 $36,550
Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL $22.04 $45,840
Gainesville, GA $18.04 $37,530

Non-metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients for surgical technologists:

  Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Northwest Lower Peninsula of Michigan $20.55 $42,730
West Kentucky non-metropolitan area $17.61 $36,630
North Central Tennessee non-metropolitan area $15.34 $31,910
East Kentucky non-metropolitan area $14.38 $29,910
Western Colorado non-metropolitan area $20.49 $42,610

Top paying non-metropolitan areas for surgical technologists:

  Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Mother Lode Region of California $24.38 $50,700
North Coast Region of California $23.76 $49,420
Southern Oregon and Linn County $22.88 $47,590
Northwestern Washington $22.80 $47,430
Outer New Hampshire $22.73 $47,270


Surgical Technologists In The Medical Field

With a growing number of medically necessary as well as elective surgeries taking place in the United States, the need for experienced surgeons, nurses and other medical professionals has dramatically increased.

This includes surgical technicians, who serve as part of the vital support network that allows the surgeon to safely operate on the patient. Due to this growing need, the surgical technician is a promising field for newly graduated students to enter.

The Role of Surgical Technicians in the Medical Field

The surgical technician or surgical technologist provides support for surgeons and nurses, before, during and after surgical procedures.

They generally work under the supervision of a registered nurse or doctor when performing their duties. Surgical technicians have a wide variety of duties, but their primary responsibilities include:

  • Surgical technicians are responsible for preparing the operating room or work area for surgery. This includes making certain that all equipment is ready and in the correct place and helping move the patient into the surgery.
  • The surgical tech is responsible for sterilizing the surgical tools and equipment used during the surgery. This is a very important duty and a vital part of ensuring that the patient does not contract a postoperative infection from improperly sterilized equipment.
  • The surgical tech must ensure that all supplies are ready for use, including sutures and dressings. As with the surgical tools, it is important that the tech make certain all supplies are kept sterile prior to use in order to protect the health of the patient.
  • The technician assists the surgeon during the surgery by providing supplies and instruments as needed. The surgical tech must be skilled and capable of rapidly responding to the surgeons needs.
  • After the surgery, the surgical technician will help transport the patient to the recovery room and then clean and prepare the surgical theater for the next surgery.
  • In some cases, the surgical technician may assist other members of the surgical team such as the anesthesiologist and his or her assistants.

In all cases, the surgical technician must be able to quickly and effectively respond to the requests of coworkers and superiors. In addition, a high level of comprehension of verbal and written instructions and the ability to communicate with coworkers are absolutely vital for the surgical technician.

Finally, especially for trauma care or other emergency surgeries, the surgical technician must be able to effectively function during periods of great stress. During emergency surgical procedures, the technician may be required to perform his or her duties very quickly while keeping track of the needs of the surgeon conducting the operation. In these cases, the surgical technician will have to remain calm and professional, no matter how stressful the situation is.

Where Surgical Technicians Work


Although normally associated with large hospitals, surgical technicians can be found in a variety of professional roles. Many technicians assist with elective surgery that takes place in the doctor’s office for example. In addition, the rising number of urgent care clinics has resulted in a demand for surgical technicians who assist during minor surgical procedures.

In many cases establishments such as outpatient clinics, urgent care centers and specialized medical practices will only perform certain types of surgeries, such as the minor surgeries common at urgent care clinics. In addition, most outpatient clinics schedule their surgeries well in advance, unlike hospitals which may be forced to quickly perform surgery on individuals who have suffered an unexpected illness or accident.

Surgical Technologist Training & Schools

Training to become a surgical technician involves a program that can last anywhere from nine months to two years or more, depending on the nature of the program and whether or not the student can attend a program full time. These programs may be provided by local community colleges, or offered by professional vocational schools. Upon completion of the program, the surgical technician will receive an associate’s degree or certificate demonstrating that he or she successfully completed the program.

In addition to traditional programs, some schools offer distance-learning programs in surgical technology. These programs can be very helpful for students who cannot attend a traditional school setting due to work or family commitments.

Accredited Surgical Technician Programs

In 2010, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) started accrediting qualified surgical technician programs.

As a nationally recognized authority on accrediting medical education programs, this can allow students to enjoy greater employment prospects if they graduate from an accredited program. In addition, these programs may allow the technician to more easily become a certified surgical technician.

In order to become accredited, the school must demonstrate that its curriculum effectively covers the duties of the surgical technician and the academic and practical information needed by the technician. In addition, the faculty of accredited programs are held to a higher standard than non-accredited programs.

The CAAHEP accreditation program utilizes information collected by the Association of Surgical Technologists as well as the American College of Surgeons in order to ensure the best possible accuracy in the accreditation process.

Becoming a Certified Surgical Technician

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) also offers testing to allow the surgical technician to be identified as a certified surgical technician.

This demonstrates that the technician has a proven level of skill in his or her field. As a part of the certification test, the candidate must take a comprehensive exam on the knowledge required in order to effectively perform the duties of a surgical technician, in addition to providing proof of graduation from an accredited school or program.

Job Opportunities for Surgical Techs

Surgical technicians are currently benefiting from the increasing emphasis on health care in America as well as the growing number of elderly who require more in the way of hospitalization and surgical procedures. Due to the importance of fully staffing hospitals, urgent care clinics and doctor’s offices, job opportunities for surgical technicians are available across the United States.

Currently, the rate of employment increase for surgical technicians is at 19 percent, according to the BLS. This is close to the average for all jobs in the United States.

However, the continuing growth of the healthcare sector and the drive to control costs by replacing registered nurses with surgical technicians makes it probable that the rate of employment will increase.

The growing number of elective surgeries, such as diet control surgery or cosmetic surgery, will continue to increase the number of establishments that require the services of a surgical technician.

Finally, certified surgical technicians may enjoy better job opportunities as many organizations will prefer to hire individuals with proof of their qualifications.

This will also apply to the graduates of accredited school programs, as those programs have demonstrated the ability to produce highly qualified graduates.

Specialties for Surgical Technicians

Although surgical technicians do not have any specific specialties, experienced technicians may find themselves being offered greater responsibility within their organization.

This can include supervising other surgical technicians, assisting in the training of newer personnel, and developing methods to more effectively support the surgeon and nurses in the operating room. However, the nature of such duties can vary widely from establishment to establishment.

The Surgical Tech in the Modern World

The surgical technician is a vital component of the modern medical establishment, providing the support surgeons and nurses need to effectively treat their patients, whether it is for a minor surgery or for a full-scale heart transplant.

As a result of this, a surgical technician is part of a socially valued and highly stable profession. With the continued rise in the number and extent of surgical procedures many Americans undergo, the surgical technician can look forward to a career that remains an expanding and indispensable field, no matter the condition of the economy.

Because making wise career decisions is so vital to an individual’s personal and professional life, it is important to do so with as much information as possible.

The other pages on this site can effectively provide a variety of important facts about surgical technicians and other employment fields.

By carefully studying this information, the potential employee can become fully prepared to make the important choices that will define his or her future career.

The Bottom Line on Surgical Tech Salary Figures


By completing a nationally recongnized surgical tech certification program, you are able to pick and choose where you want to work.  Having flexibility when it comes to relocating and the credentials and experience to do so will ensure you the highest surgical tech salary in the country. By making yourself an in-demand commodity, you can essentially dictate your own pay.

For more detailed information about becoming a surgical tech, visit the surgical tech overview section of our website.

Surgical Techs in the State of California


In today’s economy, becoming a surgical technician can be a very wise career decision. This career is open to both newly graduated students and those individuals who have decided the time has come to transition from some other job in order to improve their professional standing.

With a growing demand for trained medical personnel, the long-term career prospects for surgical technicians will continue to improve in terms of salary and stability alike.

Requirements for Future Surgical Technologists in California

In order to become a surgical technician, the candidate must successfully complete an accredited surgical technologist program. There are a number of surgical tech schools in California, ranging from community colleges to vocational training institutions. Entering these programs requires that the student have a high school diploma or a graduate equivalency diploma (GED).

Over the course of his or her studies, the student will receive training in the following areas:

  • The study of human anatomy and physiology
  • How to effectively and safely move patients and position them for surgery
  • How to prepare surgical equipment for use in the operating room. This includes training in how to sterilize surgical instruments in order to avoid infecting the patient
  • What type of terminology is used in the surgical theater, and how to effectively and promptly relay information to other medical professionals.
  • How to quickly and effectively communicate with fellow workers during periods of high stress. This is especially important for technicians planning to work in emergency rooms


The duration of a surgical technology program can vary depending on the school and the schedule of the student. A full-time program can take anywhere from nine months to two years to complete. Many institutions offer part-time programs, including weekend and evening classes, for individuals who are currently working or otherwise unable to attending during regular school hours.

In addition, online courses are available at some schools, allowing the student to study at his or her own pace. In addition, online classes allow individuals who cannot easily attend in person to continue their studies from home.

Finding an Accredited School in California

When planning to attend a surgical tech school in California, in cities like San Diego, a potential student should ensure that they are properly accredited. CAAHEP has provided accreditation services since 2010, ensuring that all accredited schools adhere to the highest professional standards. Many employers consider attending an accredited program mandatory for their workers, so it is important that the student verify that the school is currently accredited by checking with CAAHEP.

Becoming Certified in California

While not mandatory in California, becoming a certified surgical technologist can improve the career prospects of a surgical tech. Becoming certified requires that the surgical tech successfully complete an accredited program, after which he or she will take a comprehensive exam what demonstrates the tech’s professional and academic skills. Currently, certification is offered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), National Board of Surgical Technology (NBST), and the National Healthcare Association (NHA).

Certified surgical techs are generally capable of commanding higher salaries, and are also hired in preference to non-certified candidates.

Some organizations will only consider a certified surgical tech for certain duties, such as assisting in specialized operations. In addition, some states require certification for all surgical techs, so individuals considering moving to another state should verify what that state’s professional licensing requirements are.

Surgical Tech Careers in California

California has a large and dynamic healthcare sector, which has resulted in an increased demand for qualified surgical technicians. With the continuing rise in the number of elective surgeries, in addition in a continuing emphasis on quality health care for the elderly, the state’s healthcare sector is likely to continue growing for the foreseeable future.

For surgical technicians, there are a wide variety of job positions available, with varying salaries and duties. Employers focusing on elective surgeries will have regular employment schedules, while hospitals and other institutions that operate on a 24-hour basis will have a need for a larger number of surgical technicians to cover all shifts.

Among the common careers a surgical technician can find in California are the following:

  • Many technicians work at surgical dental clinics, assisting the surgeon in performing corrective dental surgery
  • A doctor’s office may require the assistance of a surgical technician when performing minor surgeries on his or her patients
  • Weight-loss clinics will require surgical technicians to assist in performing various types of surgery
  • Cosmetic surgery providers commonly make use of surgical techs during their operations
  • Urgent care clinics are becoming increasingly popular and perform a variety of minor surgeries
  • Trauma centers require highly skilled surgical techs who can function under conditions of high stress during emergency surgical procedures.

In all of these cases, a surgical technician will become a valued part of the medical team, assisting his or her colleagues in providing the best possible care for their patients.

The Current Professional Outlook for Surgical Techs in California


The surgical technician’s profession is currently growing at a rate of approximately 19 percent through 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS). Combined with the retirement of older technicians the establishment of new hospitals and clinics will ensure that newly graduated and experienced technicians alike will have a growing number of job opportunities in California.

Additionally, surgical technicians are well compensated compared to other careers with equivalent professional requirements. The median salary for a surgical tech is over $39,000. Some fields, such as outpatient care centers, provide a higher wage to the surgical tech. Finally, given their training and experience, a surgical tech can decide to transition to other medical specialties in order to advance his or her career.

The field of surgical technology is a highly respected part of the healthcare sector. Whether as a member of a hospital surgical team, or an assistant in a dental surgery clinic, the surgical technician provides a vital service to society.