Surgical Tech Salary: How Much Does a Surgical Tech Make?
Editor & Writer
Editor & Writer
- Surgical technicians earned a median pay of over $48,500 in May 2021.
- Travel surgical techs report higher average salaries.
- Certifications, in-demand specialties, and location can boost surgical tech earnings.
Surgical techs assist surgeons in high-pressure environments. If you're interested in becoming a surgical tech, you may be wondering how much these healthcare workers make. The median surgical tech salary slightly exceeds the median annual pay for all U.S. jobs. But the top-paid surgical techs can earn a salary well above that figure.
Surgical techs can increase their earnings by researching the highest-paying industries and locations. Travel surgical techs also report significantly higher hourly rates. You can also consider earning a surgical tech certification to make more.
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What Is the Average Surgical Tech Salary?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), surgical techs made a median annual salary of $48,530 in May 2021.
Key factors that influence the average surgical tech salary include experience, education, location, and work setting. According to the BLS, the top 10% of surgical techs made more than $75,940 per year, while the bottom 10% earned less than $36,930 a year.
Salaries can increase as you gain experience. Different industries also compensate surgical techs differently. Specialty hospitals and colleges and universities can offer some of the highest average salaries in the field.
Surgical Technologists: Salaries by State
In 2021, surgical techs made the highest average annual wages in California, Alaska, the District of Columbia, Connecticut, and Nevada, according to the BLS. Employers in different regions may pay more because of a higher demand for surgical technologists and a higher cost of living.
In addition, states that require surgical techs to meet education and certification requirements may also provide higher pay. Example states include Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York.
Where Do Surgical Techs Make the Most Money?
It depends on the location and industry you work in, but some of the highest-paying states include California, Alaska, and Connecticut. The following sections list the highest-paying locations and industries for surgical techs.
Highest-Paying States for Surgical Technologists
Surgical techs working in California, Alaska, Connecticut, and Nevada reported the highest average pay in 2021. In California, surgical techs earned $68,410 on average, while Alaska paid surgical techs an average of $65,690.
Washington, D.C. also reported a high salary for surgical techs, with an average pay of $65,250 per year. Employers often pay more in certain states because they have a higher need for surgical techs or a higher cost of living.
|State||Mean Annual Salary (2021)|
|District of Columbia||$65,250|
Highest-Paying Industries for Surgical Technologists
Surgical techs working in the highest-paying industries have salaries that exceed the national median annual wage of $45,760. Certain industries may pay more because they have stricter job qualifications or higher demand.
Settings such as specialty hospitals may pay more because they require surgical techs to have specialized job experience or credentials. You can gain specialized skills through certification and educational programs.
|Industry||Mean Annual Salary (2021)|
|Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools||$58,130|
|Other Ambulatory Healthcare Services||$57,040|
|Offices of Other Health Practitioners||$56,600|
|Outpatient Care Centers||$55,680|
How Can I Increase My Salary as a Surgical Tech?
If you're looking to boost your surgical tech salary, consider options like switching industries, completing a certification program, or relocating.
Complete a Certification Program
Certification programs prepare surgical techs to take national exams and earn industry recognition. Not all states or employers require certifications, but credentials can benefit you if you want professional acknowledgment of your skills. You need a diploma, certificate, or associate degree from an accredited program to work as a surgical technologist.
As a certified surgical tech, you may find more job opportunities and qualify to earn a higher salary. The following organizations offer certifications that help train and certify surgical techs:
- The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting
- National Commission for the Certification of Surgical Assistants
- American Board of Surgical Assistants
Switching industries may require more education, but you may also make more money. According to the BLS, about 110,700 surgical techs hold jobs in the United States, with 72% working at state, local, and private hospitals in 2021.
Surgical techs may make more money by moving from state and local hospitals, which paid a median annual wage of $48,310 in May 2021, to outpatient care centers. Surgical techs at outpatient care centers earned a median annual salary of $56,470 in the same year.
Moving — especially to the best states to change careers —offers an opportunity for you to increase your earning potential. California, Alaska, the District of Columbia, Connecticut, and Nevada are the top-paying locations for surgical techs.
That said, the regions that pay surgical techs the most can also have higher costs for goods and services.
Frequently Asked Questions About Surgical Tech Salaries
What is the highest-paid surgical tech?
The highest-paid surgical techs work in outpatient care centers or physician's offices. Both industries report median salaries above the average surgical tech salary.
For example, surgical techs in outpatient care centers earned a median yearly pay exceeding $56,000 in May 2021, while surgical techs working in physician's offices earned about $50,000. Surgical techs making the highest 10% of wages earned more than $75,940 per year.
What Is the average traveling surgical tech salary?
Traveling surgical techs earn a much higher salary than other surgical techs. ZipRecruiter reports an average traveling surgical tech salary of over $84,000 per year as of Feb. 2023. That places traveling surgical techs in the top 10% of earners based on surgical tech salary data from the BLS.
In addition to salary, traveling surgical techs may receive a housing stipend, travel pay, and other compensation. For example, Mayo Clinic pays traveling surgical techs $50 an hour plus a $4,000 monthly housing stipend.
What are the highest-paying surgical tech specialties?
The highest-paying surgical tech specialties include orthopedics and bariatric surgery, according to Payscale data from Feb. 2023. For example, while surgical techs make an average hourly rate of $24, Payscale reports that surgical techs with bariatric skills earn nearly $30 an hour.
Travel surgical techs also earn above-average pay and may receive a living stipend.
How much does a certified surgical tech make?
The average certified surgical tech salary exceeds $50,500, according to Payscale data from Feb. 2023. Certified surgical techs report a base salary ranging from $35,000 to $74,000. The highest-paid certified surgical techs earn more than $74,000 per year.
Salaries for certified surgical techs depend on the industry, specialty, and location. You can increase your earning potential in this career by moving into higher-paying specialties, relocating, or changing work settings.