Surgical Technician Salary: Requirements, Education, and More

When researching the surgical tech salary, one should envision a hospital operating room. It is your responsibility as the surgical technician to set up the tools and surgical equipment for the scheduled surgery and preparing and positioning the patient before the operation. Duties also include transporting the patient from their room to the surgical suite to and returning them following the surgery. The surgical tech washes and disinfects the patient’s incision area and positions them correctly on the operating table. If you’re attracted to the medical profession and see yourself assisting surgeons while they operate you must complete an educational program offering both clinical experience and the required classes.


Doctors doing surgery

Image source: Pixabay

Your duties make you a vital asset for the surgeon and the surgical team. As the surgery proceeds, your job includes passing tools and instruments to the surgeon and assisting staff as they need them.  You earn your surgical tech salary by thinking and working on your feet. Prepare yourself for long hours standing and working aside others, holding internal organs when necessary and operating robotic surgical devices if needed. Following the operation, the staff may ask the surgical tech to apply bandages to the incision site and/or collect tissue and blood specimens for lab analysis.

Education & Certification

Doctor with surgical instrument

Image source: Pixabay

Upon the successful passing of your educational requirements you shall receive your certification, diploma or associate's degree. Check with your state’s certification requirements as some states may not require you to be certified.  However, credentialed applicants may have more favorable employment opportunities and results. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that employers seeking to hire surgical technicians prefer those with certification ( The Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential comes by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. You must graduate from a CAAHEP-approved program and pass their certification exam to become a Certified Surgical Tech.  You can also get certification through The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). These CST certifications require continuing your education requirements that surgical technicians must meet. The CST credential offers their participants gives the choice of earning 60 credits or retaking the exam over four years. The NCCT also has recertification requirements.

Career Path

Hospitals use approximately 70% of surgical techs. Others seek and find employment in medical or emergency clinics, surgical centers focused on outpatient care, and doctors’ offices. The help the surgical tech provides is essential to the surgeon; acting as the virtual “right arm” of the doctor with tasks including everything from routine operations to critical, life-saving surgeries. The promise of assisting with immediate, urgently needed care attracts many surgical techs to seek employment in emergency rooms, allowing them to earn their surgical tech salary doing something they love. As you gain experience in the field, you could check the various career opportunities that open up to you along the way.  For example, after working in the emergency room for a few years, you think you’d like to try orthopedics or general surgery. The surgical tech in needed in every state in virtually every field offering a diverse and interesting work environment. You can opt to work in a specialized field or continue working in multiple areas-the choice is yours. Additional fields to explore include:

  • Cardiac
  • Gynecologic
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Organ transplantation
  • Plastic surgery

Working as a certified surgical tech means you are in continuous education-taking courses that enhance and develop your present or future skills. This education is mandatory to keep the certification current. Surgical techs can also work as surgical assistants which is a plus when you want to make advancements in the field. Working as an administrator is also something to consider if you’re interested in the management of surgical teams. Another advantage in working as a surgical tech is the need for your services in every hospital in every part of the country. The medical community uses fiber optics and laser technology in operating rooms because they are safe, efficient and reliable. They require trained personnel to operate them-perfect for the person seeking advancement in surgical techniques in robotics. With baby-boomers needing increased medical attention and surgical procedures, your expertise is in demand more than at any other time in history. Experts say they expect job growth in this field to increase up to 15% because of the aging senior population. Additional benefits and advantages include:

Medical professionals working

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Recession Proof

Many hospitals, doctors and clinics are eager to hire you-even before you graduate.

Current Technology a Plus

Surgical techs that specialize usually receive better job offers. Fields in demand include orthopedics, open heart surgery and neurosurgery.

Saving Lives

The responsibility of a sterile operating environment is yours. You must have a sincere passion for patient safety and do whatever it takes to keep germs from spreading. This means you’re not only cleaning operating room surfaces but also sterilizing instruments and tools used in the procedure. You are also responsible for cleaning incision sites and tracking the tools and instruments used during the surgery.


Some people have a natural gift for knowing what’s needed next during a procedure. Techs that show this ability are always in demand earning them the surgical tech salary they’re hoping for. The team you’re working with also appreciates your knowledge of the routine and the value of conscientious patient and operating room preparation.

Flexible Shifts

Surgical techs new in the field have to work their way up just like any other job. However, the ideal working conditions are waiting for you. Regardless of what you feel the perfect schedule is-the chances of making it happen is good. Surgical techs are in such great demand, they can eventually request the night shift, graveyard, weekends, overtime, or days. This career offers something for everyone.


Your career in surgical technology is rewarding for many reasons. It is financially secure and necessary to save lives. Whatever career path you pursue, you will end up mostly working on your feet. Except for a few rotational shifts which can take you from the exhilaration of an emergency room to a subdued hip replacement procedure, you must expect to stand while assisting in the operating room. If you’re scheduled to be on-call, you may get a phone call in the middle of the night or during a friend’s wedding if you haven’t planned to take the day off. For some, it’s a game changer, for others it can’t happen soon enough. This is the time to consider your surgical tech salary, health benefits (if any), vacation time, advancement opportunities in relationship to the time you must spend keeping your certification active.  Budget your time wisely and keep your priorities in perspective. Even if you’re paying your student loan debt and paying the fees for your required educational certification programs, the surgical tech’s salary is approximately $45,000 per year. This depends on the city and state you work in and whether you’re specializing in a certain area of medicine. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median yearly salary for surgical techs is up from $44,330 in 2015 to over $60,000 depending on experience, industry, location and size of the hospital.

If you’re ready for a career, take the time to investigate areas around the country you’d like to live. The surgical tech is welcome in every state and every field. However, make sure you’re ready, willing and able to stand long hours and work hard. There are about 100,000 surgical techs in the United States saving lives and making a good living. Stay informed and familiarize yourself in the latest surgical technology and robotic techniques to keep yourself marketable. Surgical techs train for around two years, some programs taking less time. Research training opportunities that take place during your off time or at night (though night classes usually take longer to finish). The world of surgery is demanding, exciting and critical in the world today. Take a good hard look at the contributions you can make as a surgical assistant and consider the surgical tech salary you can expect in a field on the rise. You don’t have to spending half your life becoming a surgeon.  Instead, consider a career as a surgical tech. Many quality schools offer both classroom and hands-on training, preparing you to pass the certification exams offered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) or the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). The surgical tech loves working on their feet, working with medical technology and is a team player. And the surgical tech salary offers a good income with flexible hours as a bonus. Here is a grand opportunity to earn a middle-class income in a field needed all over the world-the excitement and adrenaline rush is just another added perk. You'll love knowing you've made a positive difference in the lives of others and look forward to the next exciting opportunity to help. If this is you, the world is waiting!

Featured image via Pixabay

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