How Much Does a Surgical Tech Make?

Do you have what it takes to be a surgical tech? Discover how to become a surgical tech, and learn how much a surgical tech makes.

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by Nalea Ko

Published September 22, 2022

Edited by Kristina Beek
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How Much Does a Surgical Tech Make?
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Surgical technicians assist during surgical procedures. They sterilize equipment in preparation for procedures. During surgery, surgical techs pass tools to surgeons, as well as assist during emergencies. Surgical techs should be quick and accurate under pressure.

Surgical tech programs at community colleges and vocational schools take full-time students two years to complete. Pursuing a higher degree and certification can help surgical techs increase their salaries. Read on to learn more about being a surgical tech and get surgical tech salary information.

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What Is the Average Surgical Tech Salary?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), surgical techs make a median annual salary of $48,530, as of 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 make more than $75,940 a year, while the bottom 10% earn less than $36,930 a year.

Salaries can increase as surgical techs gain experience. Different industries also compensate surgical techs with varying wages. Specialty hospitals and colleges and universities can offer surgical techs some of the highest average salaries in the field.

Job Growth for Surgical Techs

From 2021-2031, the BLS projects 6% job growth for surgical techs. Over 9,000 openings every year, on average, are projected during that time. The average job growth projection for all U.S. occupations is 5%.

Thanks to advances in surgical technology, surgeons are performing more operations to treat a variety of ailments. Due to these advances, and the growing needs of an aging baby boom population, surgical techs will be needed.

How Much Do Surgical Technologists Make by State?

Surgical techs make 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 the higher costs of living.

Additionally, states that regulate surgical technology may also provide higher pay.

Select states passed laws to regulate the education and certification requirements for surgical techs, according to the Association of Surgical Technologists. These include Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Colorado, North Dakota, and Washington require surgical techs to be registered to work in the state.

Surgical Technologist Salary by State, 2021
State Annual Mean Wage
Alabama $40,550
Alaska $65,690
Arizona $55,610
Arkansas $43,880
California $68,410
Colorado $59,330
Connecticut $65,190
Delaware $53,470
District of Columbia $65,250
Florida $48,050
Georgia $50,620
Hawaii $61,190
Idaho $51,130
Illinois $51,400
Indiana $50,510
Iowa $45,580
Kansas $48,000
Kentucky $47,000
Louisiana $43,240
Maine $54,560
Maryland $53,730
Massachusetts $60,900
Michigan $48,050
Minnesota $61,670
Mississippi $40,250
Missouri $48,150
Montana $49,630
Nebraska $49,710
Nevada $65,180
New Hampshire $53,460
New Jersey $57,900
New Mexico $44,820
New York $60,350
North Carolina $46,410
North Dakota $51,470
Ohio $50,640
Oklahoma $45,490
Oregon $61,380
Pennsylvania $50,430
Rhode Island $60,260
South Carolina $46,390
South Dakota $45,100
Tennessee $47,700
Texas $52,950
Utah $47,390
Vermont $46,350
Virginia $53,520
Washington $61,050
West Virginia $40,290
Wisconsin $57,760
Wyoming $45,570

Data from the BLS

Where Can I Make the Most Money as a Surgical Technologist?

Highest-Paying States for Surgical Technologists

According to the BLS, surgical techs in California make a mean annual salary of $68,410, as of May 2021, and these professionals in Alaska make an annual mean wage of $65,690. Employers often pay more in certain states because they have a higher need for surgical techs.

While wages in these states may exceed what surgical techs get paid elsewhere, aspiring surgical techs should consider the cost of living in those locations.

For example, surgical techs may earn more in urban Alaska, but their expenses to live in the state may also be higher than other locations.

State Annual Mean Salary
California $68,410
Alaska $65,690
District of Columbia $65,250
Connecticut $65,190
Nevada $65,180

Source: BLS

Highest-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Surgical Technologists

California is home to several of the top-paying metropolitan areas for surgical technologists. San Jose, San Francisco, Vallejo, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz offer a higher-than-average surgical tech salary.

Surgical techs may also make more in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but the high cost of living in these cities means they spend more on everyday expenses.

Metropolitan Area Annual Mean Salary
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California $80,450
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California $80,170
Vallejo-Fairfield, California $77,460
Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, California $74,470
Santa Rosa, California $74,330

Data from the BLS

Highest-Paying Nonmetropolitan Areas for Surgical Technologists

Large metro cities are not the only places that offer opportunities and higher-than-average salaries to surgical techs. Remote areas of the U.S. may pay surgical techs more to incentivize them to move there.

Nonmetropolitan Area Annual Mean Salary
North Valley Mountains Region, California $68,250
Eastern Sierra-Mother Lode Region, California $67,520
Alaska $65,920
Northwest Colorado $64,520
North Coast Region of California $59,800

Data from the BLS

Highest-Paying Industries for Surgical Technologists

Surgical techs working in the highest-paying industries have salaries that exceed the national mean annual wage of $53,590 for these professionals. Certain industries may pay surgical techs more because they have stricter job qualifications or a higher demand.

Settings such as specialty hospitals may pay more because they require surgical techs to have specialized job experience or credentials. Surgical techs can gain specialized skills through certification and educational programs.

Industry Annual Mean Salary
Specialty Hospitals $59,180
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools $58,130
Other Ambulatory Health Care Services $57,040
Offices of Other Health Practitioners $56,600
Outpatient Care Centers $51,040

Data from the BLS

How Can I Increase My Salary as a Surgical Tech?

Complete a Certification Program

According to the Association of Surgical Technologists, select states such as Idaho and New York require surgical techs to have completed a certification program from a nationally accredited surgical technology organization. Certification programs prepare surgical techs to take national exams and earn industry recognition.

Certified surgical techs may find more job opportunities and may jump to a higher pay bracket. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, the National Commission for the Certification of Surgical Assistants, and the American Board of Surgical Assistants offer certifications that help train surgical techs.

Not all states or employers require certifications, but credentials can benefit surgical techs who want professional acknowledgment of their skills. Surgical technologists need a diploma, certificate, or associate degree from an accredited program to work.

Employers may require surgical techs to earn a bachelor's degree, especially for supervisory positions.

Change Industries

Switching industries may require additional education, but surgical techs 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 general medical and surgical hospitals, which pay an annual mean wage of $53,300 as of May 2021, to specialty hospitals that pay surgical techs a mean annual salary of $59,180, according to the BLS.

Consider Relocating

Moving — especially to the best states to change careers —offers an opportunity for surgical techs to increase their earning potential. California, Alaska, the District of Columbia, Connecticut, and Nevada are the top-paying locations for surgical techs, according to the BLS.

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?

Specialty hospital surgical techs and surgical techs at colleges, universities, and professional schools work in the field's highest-paid industries. They take home mean annual salaries of $59,180 and $58,130, respectively, according to the BLS.

With certifications and experience, surgical techs may be able to increase their paychecks.

Where do surgical techs get paid the most?

In California, the mean annual salary for surgical techs is higher than any other state in the nation, according to the BLS. Roughly 11,390 surgical techs work in California and make an annual mean wage of $68,410, as of May 2021.

California cities also claimed nine of the top 10 spots for the highest-paying U.S. metropolitan areas for surgical techs.

What are the highest-paying surgical tech specialties?

Surgical techs can gain additional training and specialization in higher-paying specific areas of surgery — cardiology, obstetrics and gynecology, neurology, and vascular.

Payscale reports that certified surgical techs who have open heart surgery experience make an average annual salary of $61,000, as of August 2022. With brain surgery skills, certified surgical techs earn an average annual salary of $62,930, as of August 2022, according to Payscale.

Advancements in robotics surgery have made it easier for surgeons to perform many procedures that used to be difficult and invasive. And they still need surgical techs on their team.

Surgical techs can gain experience to work in operating rooms where robotics surgery takes place. Techs with robotics skills make an average annual salary of $62,000, as of August 2022, according to Payscale.

How much does a certified surgical tech make?

According to Payscale, the certified surgical techs make an average annual salary of $49,060, as of August 2022. Pay for certified surgical techs can grow based on experience. The bottom 10% of certified surgical techs make an average annual salary of $35,000, while the top 90% earn $73,000 a year.

Along with experience, a surgical tech's salary can be determined by where they live. States like California and Alaska offer the highest mean annual wages for surgical techs.

What skills are needed for high-paying surgical tech jobs?

High-paying surgical tech jobs need professionals who have specialty skills in areas of surgery, such as orthopedics, pediatrics, or urology.

All surgical techs need to be able to stand for long periods of time with no breaks during a surgical procedure. They also need manual dexterity, attention to detail, good judgment, and the ability to work quickly and accurately.

Gaining work experience serves as the best way to qualify for higher-paying surgical tech jobs. Additionally, higher-paying jobs may require surgical techs who hold a bachelor's degree in a related major. These higher-paying jobs include supervisory roles.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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