Surgical Tech Salary: How Much They Make Hourly & Annually

Surgical techs have a unique opportunity to work alongside a surgeon in the operating room. In addition to having great learning opportunities, making a real difference for patients, and having a good schedule, surgical techs also earn a decent salary. 

So what is the average surgical tech salary?

On average, surgical techs in the United States earn $55,960 per year or $26.90 per hour, according to the BLS.

Of course, this varies based on location, years of experience, certifications, type of surgical center, and more. 

This guide will go over how much a surgical tech earns, how their salary compares to other healthcare jobs, and how to make more money as a surgical tech.

Surgical Tech Salary Overview

On average, surgical techs make $55,960 per year or $26.90 per hour. 

A surgical tech with no experience who lives in a rural area may start out making as little as $38,860 per year, or $18.68 per hour. 

Scrub techs (another name for surgical tech) who have more experience and live in large cities with higher average pay can make as much as $78,560 per year or $37.77 per hour.

Surgical techs also have a great job outlook, with 5% growth expected between 2022 and 2032, which is higher than the average of all jobs in the U.S. 

Like any other job, many things affect surgical tech salaries, including:

  • Certification. Earning a certification allows surgical techs to ask for a higher starting salary. According to job postings on Salary.com, certified surgical techs earn about 10% more than uncertified surgical techs. 
  • Years of experience. Almost every career pays more for more experienced employees. As people gain experience in the same job or industry, they can usually expect about a 3% increase per year
  • Type of facility you work in. Surgical techs can make more money in certain areas than others. For example, cardiovascular surgical techs usually earn more than technologists who work in general surgery. Typically, the more specialized a technologist is, the more they will be paid. You can learn more about where surgical techs work and average salaries in each here.
  • What location you work in. Typically, surgical technologists who work in big cities or urban areas earn more than those who work in rural areas with smaller hospitals. In addition, larger and busier surgical centers also pay more. 

Surgical Tech Salary by State

State # Jobs Hourly Median Annual Median
Alabama 2,260 $19.28 $40,100
Alaska 260 $36.39 $75,690
Arizona 2,270 $29.36 $61,070
Arkansas 1,410 $22.52 $46,840
California 10,810 $36.13 $75,150
Colorado 1,670 $30.38 $63,180
Connecticut 1,180 $36.01 $74,900
Delaware 400 $27.65 $57,520
District of Columbia 340 $30.87 $64,210
Florida 8,750 $24.46 $50,880
Georgia 3,340 $26.07 $54,230
Hawaii 360 $26.59 $55,310
Idaho 580 $28.28 $58,820
Illinois 3,460 $24.93 $51,850
Indiana 2,740 $27.06 $56,280
Iowa 840 $23.41 $48,690
Kansas 940 $23.39 $48,660
Kentucky 2,030 $23.73 $49,360
Louisiana 2,140 $22.97 $47,780
Maine 480 $26.07 $54,220
Maryland 1,930 $28.90 $60,110
Massachusetts 2,320 $30.57 $63,580
Michigan 3,950 $24.42 $50,790
Minnesota 1,900 $31.23 $64,960
Mississippi 1,170 $21.48 $44,680
Missouri 1,710 $24.49 $50,940
Montana 440 * *
Nebraska 760 $24.06 $50,040
Nevada 1,040 $32.52 $67,640
New Hampshire 480 $29.76 $61,890
New Jersey 2,690 $30.16 $62,730
New Mexico 510 $22.92 $47,670
New York 5,700 $30.66 $63,780
North Carolina 3,330 $23.67 $49,220
North Dakota 320 $24.20 $50,330
Ohio 3,870 $24.83 $51,650
Oklahoma 1,810 $23.18 $48,210
Oregon 1,270 $31.43 $65,370
Pennsylvania 3,640 $24.05 $50,020
Rhode Island 170 $30.45 $63,340
South Carolina 2,140 $23.81 $49,510
South Dakota 520 $23.51 $48,900
Tennessee 1,920 $24.41 $50,780
Texas 9,110 $25.70 $53,460
Utah 1,080 $23.94 $49,790
Vermont 80 $22.98 $47,810
Virginia 1,850 $28.09 $58,420
Washington 2,150 $30.62 $63,700
West Virginia 530 $22.52 $46,850
Wisconsin 2,530 $29.34 $61,040
Wyoming 260 $23.68 $49,250
Puerto Rico 1,020 $11.00 $22,880

Surgical Tech Salary by City

Metro Area State # Jobs Hourly Median Annual Median
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA GA 1,990 $29.19 $60,720
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD MD 1,170 $27.84 $57,910
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI IL 2,520 $27.80 $57,820
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX TX 2,390 $29.26 $60,860
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI MI 1,690 $24.55 $51,060
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX TX 2,230 $28.66 $59,610
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA CA 3,630 $31.89 $66,320
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL FL 2,750 $24.46 $50,880
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI MN 1,150 $31.64 $65,800
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA NY 5,850 $31.01 $64,500
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD PA 1,760 $27.65 $57,510
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ AZ 1,750 $30.11 $62,630
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA CA 1,040 $29.90 $62,190
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX TX 1,110 $22.18 $46,130
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA CA 1,590 $40.83 $84,920
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA WA 1,120 $31.09 $64,670
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL FL 1,260 $24.49 $50,930
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV DC 1,330 $32.00 $66,560
Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH MA 1,640 $30.91 $64,290

Do Surgical Techs Make Good Money? Scrub Tech Salary vs. Other Similar Professions

Surgical techs typically need a certification or associate degree and often earn more money than many other healthcare workers with similar levels of training and education. 

Here is how surgical tech salaries ($55,960) compare to average salaries of other healthcare professions

Other similar occupations that earn a similar salary or more than surgical techs include clinical laboratory technicians who earn $57,380 per year and radiology technicians who earn $67,180 per year.

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting a Better Surgical Tech Salary

Becoming a surgical tech is a great way to get involved in the medical field, work closely with surgeons, learn about human anatomy, and have a positive impact on people’s lives. 

However, pay is also an important factor to consider with any type of career. 

If you want to work as a surgical technologist with a high salary, there are some things you can do to earn more money.

1) Get Certified

There are several surgical technologist certifications you can pursue that can help you get a job and become qualified to work.

You can get a surgical tech certification called the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) or the Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C) offered through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). 

These certifications can not only help you enter the workforce with more confidence but allow you to ask for a higher salary and better job opportunities.

Costs of surgical tech programs vary widely, so be sure to do your research to find the most cost effective option before applying for one.

2) Specialize

After earning a basic surgical technologist certification, many surgical techs choose to specialize. Surgical techs can specialize in reconstructive surgeries, cardiac and thoracic surgery, orthopedic surgery, and many others. 

3) Become a First Assistant

As surgical technologists get more experience, they can become surgical first assistants. These techs often need additional training and have more advanced skill requirements, like helping surgeons control blood flow and holding organs and tissues out of the way.

4) Stay on Top of the Industry and New Technologies

Staying up to date on new technologies and techniques is one of the best ways to make yourself a valuable member of the surgical team. Subscribing to journal articles and completing continuing education courses can help you be the best surgical technologist you can be. 

5) Ask for Advancement Opportunities

Once you have earned certification, gotten some experience, and shown your employer that you are willing to work hard and stay on top of the latest surgical technician technologies, you will be in a good position to ask your leaders for an advancement opportunity. 

Some of the more common advancement opportunities include becoming a manager for other surgical technologists or a trainer for new hires. 

6) Relocate

Similarly to all other occupations, surgical technologists are paid more highly in some cities than others. However, it is important to keep in mind that the cost of living often rises as average salaries rise. 

When looking for new jobs, make sure you consider how much your living expenses will be in comparison to how much money you will be earning. Also, check the surgical tech job description to see what compensation is offered.

7) Consider Traveling 

Traveling surgical techs are paid more than those who have permanent positions. 

If you don’t mind working short contracts and moving around different locations, becoming a traveling contract worker might be a good option for you. 

Travel surgical techs typically work 8 to 12-week contracts before having to find another job or renew their contract.

8) Move to a Larger Hospital 

Larger surgical centers that do higher volumes of surgeries are more likely to pay more than smaller hospitals. 

In addition, larger hospitals often have more resources to provide better benefits, have more equipment available, and allow for more time off and flexibility. 

9) Work the Odd Hours

Many healthcare jobs require employees to work night and weekend hours. 

While these are often considered the more undesirable hours, most organizations offer a pay differential for working evenings, nights, and weekends. 

Differentials can range from anywhere between 5% to 25%, depending on where you work. 

10) Become an Instructor

With some experience, you can become a surgical tech instructor for a college or certification program. 

Becoming a teacher for one of these programs typically requires at least three years of experience working in the operating room as a surgical technologist. 

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