Surgical Technologist

Surgical Technologist

Median Salary

Years of School

Job Outlook

A surgical technologist (or surgical tech) assists doctors and nurses during surgical procedures.

While surgical techs do not assist with the actual surgical procedure, they carry out important tasks such as:

  • Arranging equipment
  • Preparing the operating room
  • Sanitizing supplies and equipment
  • Having tools ready for surgeon use
  • Handing surgeon tools during procedure

Job Description

Surgical techs are responsible for preparing the operating room and assisting nurses and surgeons during surgical procedures.

The first person to enter the operating room is typically the surgical technologist.

It is his or her responsibility to maintain a sterile operating room environment before, during, and after the surgical procedure takes place.

Aspiring surgical techs should consider the following criterion before entering the field:

  • A surgical tech must be able to stand for extended lengths of time
  • A surgical tech must possess the ability to remain calm in a stressful environment
  • A surgical tech should have great attention to detail
  • A surgical tech must enjoy working with his or her hands

Surgical technologists are a vital piece of the surgical procedure puzzle.

Without a surgical tech to prepare the operating room, prepare the patient, and provide surgeons and nurses with the proper operating tools, the surgical procedure would be doomed before the patient was even put under anesthesia.

Patients trust their doctors with their lives— doctors must possess the same amount of trust for their nurses and surgical techs.

The weight is heavy, and rightfully so.

Among the preoperative responsibilities and responsibilities during the surgical procedure, surgical techs are also responsible for handling postoperative tasks.

It is the surgical tech who is responsible for dressing the wound and transferring the patient to the recovery room after the procedure is successfully completed.

Surgical techs must satisfy the needs of both the patient and the surgeon during all three stages of a surgical procedure.

During the Three Stages of a Surgical Procedure, Surgical Techs must:

  • Prepare and sterilize the operating room
  • Gather required surgical tools
  • Sterilize, count, and arrange surgical tools before the procedure
  • Help to prepare and administer patient’s medications
  • Remain diligent at all times
  • Count tools after the procedure to ensure no tool was left behind
  • Suture the incision
  • Dispose of Biohazards, such as needles and gauze
  • Maintain a sterile OR environment

While these are typical day-to-day tasks, a “routine day” is atypical for a surgical tech.

Emergencies happen frequently and without prior notice – for this reason, a surgical tech must always be on his or her toes.


A surgical tech’s salary can range between $39,423 and $53,259.

The median salary for a surgical tech, however, is approximately $43,878.

Expect to work full-time+ (meaning 8 hours+ on most days) as a surgical tech.

This includes weekends, evenings, and holidays (and even on-call hours), especially if you are planning to work in a hospital.

Approximately 70% of surgical techs worked in a hospital in 2017, according to the United States Bureau of Labor.

Average Annual Salary by State

State Avg. Annual Salary
Alabama $41,640
Alaska $49,845
Arizona $43,483
Arkansas $40,587
California $49,275
Colorado $44,361
Connecticut $47,300
Delaware $46,774
Florida $42,211
Georgia $43,220
Hawaii $45,765
Idaho $41,640
Illinois $46,511
Indiana $42,869
Iowa $42,386
Kansas $42,254
Kentucky $41,596
Louisiana $43,571
Maine $44,317
Maryland $45,019
Massachusetts $49,933
Michigan $45,194
Minnesota $46,818
Mississippi $39,051
Missouri $43,132
Montana $41,772
Nebraska $41,509
Nevada $45,721
New Hampshire $46,335
New Jersey $50,109
New Mexico $40,982
New York $52,697
North Carolina $43,000
North Dakota $40,938
Ohio $43,746
Oklahoma $41,684
Oregon $46,072
Pennsylvania $47,213
Rhode Island $46,467
South Carolina $41,421
South Dakota $38,613
Tennessee $40,675
Texas $43,571
Utah $41,596
Vermont $43,408
Virginia $44,010
Washington $48,002
West Virginia $40,017
Wisconsin $43,659
Wyoming $39,929


In order to become a surgical tech, you will need an associate’s degree (in a field-related subject) or equivalent post-secondary certification.

It is recommended that individuals looking to pursue a career as a surgical tech will begin their medical field education in high school.

Here are some suggestions for courses you can complete while in high school:

  • Anatomy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Health
  • Physiology

After high school, you will need to shop around for a surgical tech program that best suits you.

Licensing & Certification

It is recommended that you seek out an accredited institution and become a Certified Surgical Tech.

Certifications expand your career opportunities and can increase your potential salary.

To find out if your school is accredited, visit the CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs).

In order to graduate from a CAAHEP institution, you must receive a passing score on the National Certification Exam – this is not a requirement of non-accredited programs.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for a surgical tech is extremely promising.

107,700 people were employed as surgical techs in the year 2016.

While employment in other fields is steadily decreasing, employment in the surgical tech field is booming.

By 2026, it is expected that there will be approximately 120,300+ employed surgical techs.

Surgical Tech Career Stats:

  • Average growth rate of 12%
  • Above average earnings

Is Becoming a Surgical Tech Worth It?

In short, the decision to become a surgical tech is yours to make.

However, do keep this in mind:

  • Demand for surgical techs is extremely high
  • You can enter the field relatively quickly
  • There are hospitals world-wide, meaning there will always be a demand for surgical techs
  • Nearly above average earnings
  • You will not be behind a computer screen all day
  • Your work will be hands-on
  • Rewarding

Are you ready to trade in your suit and tie (or heels) for scrubs and a pair of comfortable shoes?

Become a surgical technologist in as little as 1-2 years, and begin your journey on the path to saving lives.