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Plain and simple, surgical techs may be well compensated for their hard work. As valuable members of the medical-surgical team, these technologists do a little of everything, from passing sterile instruments and supplies to surgeons to handling specimens taken in surgery for lab analysis. They might help by holding retractors, keeping a patient’s internal organs in place during surgery, ensuring the environment is sterile or setting up all types of surgical equipment for a procedure. They must be detail-oriented, fastidious, physically fit and organized and the many requirements of the job will ensure that they earn their pay.
Median surgical tech salaries by state
Let’s start by looking at median annual salaries for surgical technologists by state, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 data:
Median Hourly Wage$27
|State||Median Salary||Bottom 10%||Top 10%|
|District of Columbia||$64,210||$32,260||$91,360|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2032. Actual salaries may vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.
How can my pay increase as a Surgical Technologist?
According to the BLS, pay for surgical technologists increases with experience and education and may also be affected by where you work and the location of that workplace. As an example, the highest paying workplaces—in order of pay—are:
- Outpatient care centers and facilities
- Hospitals; state, local and private
- Doctors’ offices
- Dental care facilities
Consider where you work and location
The BLS cites the following cities as the highest employers of surgical technologists:
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||5,850|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||3,630|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL||2,750|
|Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||2,390|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX||2,230|
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA||1,990|
A full-time surgical technologist will typically be offered a benefits package including health care, vacation and holiday pay, sick leave and a 401(k)-pension plan. Some may also be offered tuition reimbursement or assistance by their employer so they can renew their credentials or pursue professional certification to gain new skills and seek advancement, which may lead to higher pay.
Gain education and experience
One way to potentially increase your pay and your job duties is to pursue education beyond your initial degree or certificate. There are professional certifications available for surgical techs through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) which maintains a specific criterion for eligibility to earn the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential. These include graduation from an accredited education program, transcripts and a notarized letter on institutional letterhead from your school’s program director that lists your name, date of graduation and type of degree awarded. There are, however, separate criteria for graduates of military training programs in surgical technology.
With experience and additional education, surgical technologists can advance to become surgical assistants, and the good news is there may be online degree and education programs for those who need to continue to work or juggle other responsibilities while they pursue further education.
10 popular states for surgical techs
Employment of surgical technologists at a national level is expected to increase through 2032, though growth is more pronounced in some states than others. Here are 10 states to consider.
Note: Which states accept NCCT certification?
The NCCT healthcare certification program for surgical techs is awarded accreditation by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Surgical tech certification is available, along with other healthcare designations, with the Tech in Surgery (NCCT, TS-C) credential. All states accept the NCCT certification at this time.
10 popular cities for surgical techs
Upon learning which states are popular destinations for surgical technologists, some students may find a more localized list of potential places of employment and the median salaries that cities offer, more helpful. Here are 10 cities that rank well as far as population, and for currently employed—or those seeking to relocate—surgical technologists:
Surgical tech salary in Houston
Median annual pay: $59,610, higher than the national median
Outlook for surgical techs: Houston hires approximately 112 surgical techs per year, and according to Brookline College, is the third-best city for surgical techs in the U.S. Potential places of employment include Houston Methodist Hospital and Texas Medical Center.
Surgical tech salary in New York City
Median annual pay: $64,500, higher than the national median
Outlook for surgical techs: New York City ranks number one as far as employing more surgical techs than any other city and paying a healthy annual salary, but students should remember that the cost of living in Manhattan is also high. There are hundreds of job openings for certified surgical techs in New York City and surrounding boroughs on Indeed and other employment sites, and potential places of employment include Northwell Health, Diverse Lynx, Hospital for Special Surgery, The Brooklyn Hospital Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
Surgical tech salary in Dallas
Median annual pay: $60,860, higher than the national median
Outlook for surgical techs: Dallas offers job security for surgical techs, says Brookline College, largely because of the abundance of healthcare facilities that use surgical technologist skills. Students might consider looking at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Baylor Scott & White Surgicare in North Dallas, Methodist Health Systems and Southlake Plastic Surgery Center.
Surgical tech salary in Atlanta
Median annual pay: $60,720, higher than the national median
Outlook for surgical techs: Atlanta ranks number 6 on Brookline College’s list of best cities to work as a surgical tech, largely because of population and diversity. There are quite a few potential employers in Atlanta, which include Northside Hospital, Emory Healthcare, Sightpath Medical and Piedmont Healthcare.
Surgical tech salary in Chicago
Median annual pay: $57,820, higher than the national median
Outlook for surgical techs: For being the third most populated metro area in the U.S., Chicago pays slightly less than some other cities but also has a more reasonable cost of living for a big metropolitan area. The biggest employers of surgical technologists in Chicago include Maxim Healthcare Group, Trinity Health and Premier Medical Staffing Services.
Surgical tech salary in Orlando
Median annual pay: $49,780, lower than the national median
Outlook for surgical techs: Orlando has a relatively low cost of living, and while surgical techs may earn a lower median salary, there are plenty of potential employers in the area. Potential facilities include HCA Florida Hospitals (locations in Lake Monroe and Poinciana), Oviedo Medical Center, SCA Health and MedPro Healthcare Staffing, among several others.
Surgical tech salary in San Diego
Median annual pay: $76,040, higher than the national median
Outlook for surgical techs: With the highest median annual pay of all the cities on this list, San Diego has a lot to offer besides a substantial salary. From hospitals to dental offices there are potential employers throughout the area, and they include Stability Healthcare, Rady Children’s Hospital and health Center, Sharp Healthcare and Amare Global, along with smaller private doctor and dentist offices if students want a more personalized work environment.
Surgical tech salary in Miami
Median annual pay: $50,880, lower than the national median
Outlook for surgical techs: Miami ranks as the seventh best metropolitan area for surgical technologists, and part of that may be its popularity among baby boomers and retirees, who require more medical procedures as they age. Potential employers in Miami include Baptist Health South Florida, Bayside Ambulatory Center, Larkin Community Hospital, HCA Florida Mercy Hospital and The Maercks Institute.
Surgical tech salary in Tampa
Median annual pay: $50,930, lower than the national median
Outlook for surgical techs: The healthcare industry is a vital part of Tampa’s economy, making it a logical destination for those looking to put their surgical tech skills to good use. AdventHealth and Tampa General Hospital are two of the city’s largest medical facilities, but HealthTrust, HCA Healthcare and Moffitt Cancer Center are also potential employers.
Surgical tech salary in Las Vegas
Median annual pay: $67,640, higher than the national median
Outlook for surgical techs: Las Vegas may seem to be an unlikely city, but according to U.S. News & World Report, Nevada is the fifth highest-paying state for surgical techs. Just as it does in Florida, HCA Healthcare is one of the largest potential employers, and Host Healthcare, MedPro Healthcare, Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center and Universal Health Services are also in the mix.
The benefits of hourly pay
Whether you are paid hourly or are salaried is likely at the discretion of your employer, but if you are given the choice, it may be in your best interests to choose hourly pay. Why? Most surgical technologists work full-time, says the BLS, and those who are employed by hospitals may work or be on call during nights, weekends and holidays, which could generate special holiday pay, or they may also be required to work shifts lasting longer than 8 hours, which could generate overtime pay. Here’s how hourly pay stacks up, according to BLS data:
With the employment of surgical technologists expected to increase through 2032, job growth is promising and slightly faster than the national average.
As advancements in technology have made surgery safer, and as the aging population requires care, surgery technologists may be ensured steady work, while prospects are best for those who’ve completed an accredited education program and who maintain their professional certification.
With experience and additional education, surgical technologists can advance to become surgical assistants, and the good news is there may be online degree and education programs for those who need to continue to work or juggle other responsibilities while they pursue further education. Why not take the first step toward your future as a surgical technologist and click the Find Schools button to begin researching education programs to get you there.
Updated: September 28, 2023