Surgical Assistant Salary Guide and Career Outlook

Sterilization of equipment, preparation of the operating room and performing some procedures under the surgeon’s direct supervision form part of the surgical assistant’s duties. Depending on location, these assistants may be physicians’ assistants who focus of surgery or registered nurses with skills or certification as nurse assistants. Surgical assistants receive, on a mean basis, pay of $46,575 in the United States and C$107,577 ($85,572 USD) in Canada.

In United Kingdom, surgical assistants earn on average 30,000 ($40,508 USD). The mean pay stands at AU$156,172 ($122,034 USD) for those in Australia and NZD$131,101 ($93,028 USD) in New Zealand. For surgical assistants in India, salaries run on a mean basis INR8,17,410 (INR817,410 in Western form) ($12,803 USD). Those in South Africa collect R419,582 ($33,875 USD) on a mean level.

surgery assistant salary

How Much Does a Surgical Assistant Make per Year by State?

Surgical Assistant Salary US Canada UK Australia New Zealand India South Africa
Hourly Pay $22.39 C$52 £14.42 AU$75 NZD$63 INR393 R202
Annual Pay $46,575 C$107,577 £30,000 AU$156,172 NZD$131,101 INR8,17,410 R419,582

Surgical Assistant Salary Influencing Factors

The work settings and skills of surgical assistants impact pay. Generally, private hospitals offer higher compensation packages than public hospitals or clinics. Normally, more experience means greater earnings. Living in certain cities allows surgical assistants to earn more than the national averages.

1. Location

According to Pay Scale, surgical assistants in Cincinnati earn 46 percent above the United States mean. In Nashville, salaries climb 30 percent over the average. Surgical assistants make 24 percent north of mean in Chicago and 21 percent above in Houston. Pay in Miami slips to 13 percent under the national mean.

Salary Expert states that surgical assistants enjoy a mean pay of INR8,50,104 in New Delhi, while the national mean in India is INR8,17,410. Pay in Brisbane, Australia, sits at AU$142,124, below the national mean of AU$156,172. In Sydney, surgical assistants earn above the mean, at AU$166,265.

In Port Elizabeth, South Africa, surgical assistants can earn on average R349,741. Surgical assistants in Cape Town fetch R454,714, well above the South African mean pay.

How Much Does a Surgical Assistant Make in the US?

Surgical Assistant Salary US Per Year Per Hour
Minimum $30,045 $14.44
Maximum $98,326 $47.27
Bonus $2,000 $0.96
Overtime N/A N/A
Total Pay $48,535 to $98,326

How Much Does a Surgical Assistant Make in Canada?

Surgical Assistant Salary Canada Per Year Per Hour
Minimum C$75,186 C$36.15
Maximum C$133,627 C$64.24
Bonus C$2,141 C$1.03
Overtime N/A N/A
Total Pay C$75,186 to C$135,768

How Much Does a Surgical Assistant Make in the UK?

Surgical Assistant Salary UK Per Year Per Hour
Minimum £22,000 £10.58
Maximum £35,000 £16.83
Bonus N/A N/A
Overtime N/A N/A
Total Pay £22,000 to £35,000

How Much Does a Surgical Assistant Make in Australia

Surgical Assistant Salary Australia Per Year Per Hour
Minimum AU$109,326 AU$52.56
Maximum AU$194,304 AU$93.42
Bonus AU$3,108 AU$1.50
Overtime N/A N/A
Total Pay AU$109,326 to AU$197,412

How Much Does a Surgical Assistant Make in New Zealand?

Surgical Assistant Salary New Zealand Per Year Per Hour
Minimum NZD$91,702 NZD$44.09
Maximum NZD$162,982 NZD$78.36
Bonus NZD$2,609 NZD$1.25
Overtime N/A N/A
Total Pay NZD$91,702 to NZD$165,591

How Much Does a Surgical Assistant Make in India?

Surgical Assistant Salary India Per Year Per Hour
Minimum INR5,80,100 INR278.89
Maximum INR10,31,008 INR495.68
Bonus INR16,266 INR7.82
Overtime N/A N/A
Total Pay INR5,80,100 to INR10,47,274

How Much Does a Surgical Assistant Make in South Africa?

Surgical Assistant Salary South Africa Per Year Per Hour
Minimum R295,960 R142.29
Maximum R526,008 R252.89
Bonus R8,355 R4.02
Overtime N/A N/A
Total Pay R295,960 to R534,363

2. Experience

Between entry and five years of experience, surgical assistants in the United States earn on a mean basis $41,000 per year. For those with five to ten years in the field, pay averages $48,000. Surgical assistants make $52,000 with ten to 20 years of experience and $57,000 with more than 20 years of experience.

The National Careers Service reports that starting operating department practitioners earn on a mean basis £22,000. At the “experienced” level, average pay increases to £28,000. These practitioners can reach £35,000 at the “Highly Experienced” stage.

According to SalaryExpert, surgical assistants in Australia average AU$109,326 as entry-level workers. With eight years or more of experience, their pay increases to AU$194,304. In New Zealand, one to three years of experience means an average pay of NZD$91,702 and eight or more years in the field results in a mean pay of NZD$162,982.

Surgical assistants in India start on a mean basis at INR5,80,100. Upon reaching at least eight years of experience, surgical assistants can expect a mean pay of INR10,31,008. SalaryExpert says that entry-level surgical assistants enjoy pay of R295,960 in South Africa, while the senior-level mean rises to R526,008.

3. Industry

Hospitals and physicians offices employ the predominate percentage of surgical assistants. Depending on the country, settings include private and public facilities. In the United Kingdom, most operating room practitioners work primarily in the National Health Service either directly or in an NHS Trust facility. The National Health Service starts operating room practitioners on “Band 5,” resulting in a pay between £22,128 and £28,746.

Surgical assistants can earn higher pay from having skills or involvement in certain types of surgery. Among assistants in the United States, skills in bariatric surgery, or procedures that treat obesity, can result in pay being 30 percent above the national mean. Surgical assistants in orthopedic surgery earn 21 percent above the mean, while those involved with open heart surgeries and general surgeries each make 13 percent over the national average.

Schedule & Working Hours

Overall, surgical assistants are full-time workers. Operating room practitioners in the United Kingdom log on a mean basis 37.5 hours per week.

For surgical assistants, shifts can last at most times and days. Incidents that require emergency surgeries result in the strong potential of evening, late night, early morning, weekend and holiday work. Surgical assistants may have duty in excess of eight hours at a single time and can expect to be on call for surgeries.

Bonuses & Benefits

Benefit packages may differ by employer or by country. Typical job benefits include life insurance, tuition reimbursement, loan or relocation assistance and pension.

Surgical assistants can also generally expect to receive health benefits from their employers. According to PayScale, seven out of ten surgical assistants in the United States reported having medical coverage. Dental benefits are enjoyed by 51 percent of surgical assistants, while the vision coverage rate rests at 42 percent. Profit-sharing contributes $4,894 to the compensation of surgical assistants in the United States.

Career Outlook

With aging populations and increased prevalence of diseases will come demand for surgical services and professionals such as surgical assistants. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes surgical assistants in the larger field of surgical technologists. The BLS’ projections for surgical technologists show a 12 percent rise in employment, or 12,600 more occupants, by 2026.

According to the National Health Service, the United Kingdom had 13,018 registered operating room practitioners. As evidence of the shortage of these workers, the United Kingdom has placed operating room practitioners on its “national shortage occupational list.”

India has a significant shortage of surgical assistants, with many in the occupation lacking formal training. Further, rural regions of India face low numbers of surgeons.

Even with demand, job opportunities may prove scare in especially rural or other areas with few hospitals or surgical centers.


Surgical assistants will generally find ample opportunities for employment as demand for surgery comes from incidents of diseases and an aging population. Pay should increase through accumulating experience or pursuing certain types of surgery or skills.

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