Surgical Tech Salary: How Much Does a Surgical Tech Make?
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- Surgical technicians can enter the medical field with 1-2 years of education
- Surgical tech average annual salaries start above $50,000
- Traveling surgical tech salaries can exceed $100,000
- Surgical tech salaries vary by state, experience level, and industry
Surgical technologists, also known as operating room technicians, need only a one- to two-year associate degree or certificate to begin their careers. Becoming a surgical tech may appeal to you if you're looking for a quick entry into the healthcare field or a second career option with solid earning potential.
What Is the Average Surgical Tech Salary?
The median surgical tech salary of $57,290 per year falls short of the $61,900 average annual salary for all occupations, but it tops the list of salaries within its occupational group.
Among the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)-listed health practitioner support technologists and technicians roles, surgical techs outearn licensed practical and vocational nurses, who average $55,860 per year; medical records specialists, who make $51,090; and pharmacy technicians, who earn $40,260.
Surgical tech salaries may vary from the average annual wage, as illustrated by the salary range of $38,860-$78,560 shown in the table below. Factors that influence surgical techs' earning potential include obtaining national certification, gaining experience, living in a higher-paying area or an area with a lower cost of living, and working in a specific industry or setting.
|Salary Range (10th and 90th Percentile)||$38,860 - $78,560||$18.68 - $37.77|
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Surgical Technologists: Salaries by State
The table below lists 2022 surgical tech salaries across the U.S., showing the variations among geographical locations and the influence of each state's cost of living.
For example, surgical techs in Alabama earn the lowest average salary at $43,440, and Alabama ranks second for the lowest cost of living. At the other end of the spectrum, Hawaii has the highest cost of living, but surgical techs in Alaska earn the highest pay.
|State||Average Surgical Tech Salary||Average Salary Adjusted for Cost of Living|
|District of Columbia||$63,760||$57,302|
Highest Paying States for Surgical Techs
Surgical techs in some states can earn average annual salaries that exceed the overall U.S. average, even when adjusted for cost of living.
The top five-highest paying states for surgical technicians:
- Alaska — $73,960
- California — $72,860
- Connecticut — $71,430
- Nevada — $69,300
- Washington — $66,590
The highest paying states for surgical technicians, adjusted for cost of living:
- Nevada — $72,533
- Alaska — $70,816
- Connecticut — $69,618
- Minnesota — $66,753
- California — $65,172
Interestingly, only California ranks among the top five highest-paying states when adjusted for cost of living. Meanwhile Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, DC, fall further down the list, despite their high cost of living.
Surgical Technologist Salary by Industry
The table below shows average annual salaries for surgical techs by industry, with speciality hospitals taking the top spot. However, it is important to note that the BLS reports lower levels of employment for specialty hospitals and employment services. Surgical techs may find more job opportunities in general medical and surgical hospitals, outpatient care centers, and physicians' offices.
The highest-paying industries for surgical techs include medical and diagnostic laboratories ($71,430), home health care services ($67,370) and colleges and universities ($67,180). However, as employment for surgical technicians is also low in the sectors that pay the most, this table includes industries with more openings.
|Industry||Average Annual Salary|
|Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Use) Hospitals||$63,930|
|Outpatient Care Centers||$60,230|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||$57,490|
|Offices of Physicians||$55,030|
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 2022 data from the BLS, about 107,400 surgical techs hold jobs in the United States, with nearly 75,000 working in a hospital setting.
Surgical techs may make more money by moving from medical and surgical hospitals, which paid an average annual wage of $57,490 in 2022, to outpatient care centers. Surgical techs at outpatient care centers earned an average annual salary of $60,230 the same year.
Moving — especially to the best states to change careers —offers an opportunity for you to increase your earning potential. California, Alaska, Washington, 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 live in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Nevada, or Washington and average between $66,590 and $73,960 per year. They also work in industries that include medical and diagnostic labs, home healthcare, and specialty hospitals, with average annual wages of $63,930-$71,430.
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 $104,000 per year as of September. 2023. This is significantly higher than the average surgical technician salary of $57,500.
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 surgical services typically provided in specialty hospitals, such as cardiovascular, cosmetic, orthopedic, and reconstructive surgeries. Also included may be surgical tech specialty populations like pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology.
How much does a certified surgical tech make?
Surgical tech certification is required in some states and preferred by many employers. Surgical tech salaries average $57,500 per year or $27.64 per hour. The lowest ten percent of earners make median wages of $38,860 and the highest 10% bring in $78,560. Certification can lead to higher wages.