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How Much Does a Surgical Technician Make

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Working alongside professionals performing surgeries is a crucial job. For this reason, Surgical Technicians (STs) make higher compensation than the national average. Further training and certifications also award the opportunity to increase potential earnings.

STs are a motivated part of the workforce leading to increased financial benefits compared to other technician roles. The high-pressure nature of the job demands a high level of skill and dedication.  The job outlook for STs is promising, offering excellent career opportunities. These benefits make it an appealing career choice for anyone seeking stable employment and long-term growth.

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The average salary in the U.S.

With the increasing competitive demand for STs, the job market positively influences salary levels. According to BLS, the median annual wage for STs was $48,530 in May 2021. This is equivalent to about $23.32 wage per hour. Below is the percentile wage estimate for STs in May 2021.

**Hourly Wage Percentiles:**‍

  • 10th Percentile: $18.68

  • 25th Percentile: $23.01

  • 50th Percentile (Median): $26.91

  • 75th Percentile: $30.94

  • 90th Percentile: $37.77

Annual Wage Percentiles:

  • 10th Percentile: $38,860

  • 25th Percentile: $47,860

  • 50th Percentile (Median): $55,960

  • 75th Percentile: $64,360

  • 90th Percentile: $78,560

Factors influencing salary variations

Several factors contribute to variations in the salary of STs. Of course, you get paid for your hard work and background, but the salary will vary due to some factors. If you want to maximize your earning potential as an ST, you must consider the following:

A. Experience and Seniority. Experienced STs often command higher salaries than those who are beginners. As they gain more experience, their value in the operating room increases–leading to higher pay scales. ‍

B. Geographic Location. Anywhere you get employment, salaries may always differ significantly based on the region or city. Areas with a higher cost of living or a greater demand for skilled healthcare professionals may offer higher salaries to attract and retain talent. These are the top-paying states for STs in 2021:

Alaska:

  • Employment: 260

  • Employment per Thousand Jobs: 0.86

  • Hourly Mean Wage (Median): $35.56

  • Annual Mean Wage: $73,960

California:

  • Employment: 10,810

  • Employment per Thousand Jobs: 0.61

  • Hourly Mean Wage (Median): $35.03

  • Annual Mean Wage: $72,860

Connecticut:

  • Employment: 1,180

  • Employment per Thousand Jobs: 0.72

  • Hourly Mean Wage (Median): $34.34

  • Annual Mean Wage: $71,430

Nevada:

  • Employment: 1,040

  • Employment per Thousand Jobs: 0.73

  • Hourly Mean Wage (Median): $33.32

  • Annual Mean Wage: $69,300

Washington:

  • Employment: 2,150

  • Employment per Thousand Jobs: 0.63

  • Hourly Mean Wage (Median): $32.01

  • Annual Mean Wage: $66,590

‍C. Facility Type. The type of healthcare facility can influence salary. Hospitals or specialized surgical centers may offer higher salaries compared to smaller clinics or outpatient centers.‍

D. Education and Certification. STs with advanced certifications or specialized training may qualify for higher salaries. Certifications such as Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) can demonstrate a higher level of competency. This leads to better compensation.‍

E. Skills and Specializations. Certain specialties or subspecialties within surgery may demand specialized knowledge and skills. STs who possess expertise in these areas may receive higher salaries to reflect their specialty.‍

F. Supply and Demand. In regions with a higher demand for STs and a limited supply of qualified professionals, salaries may be more competitive to attract talent. According to BLS, these are the states with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients:

South Dakota:

  • Employment: 520

  • Employment per Thousand Jobs: 1.20

  • Location Quotient: 1.66

  • Hourly Mean Wage: $22.88

  • Annual Mean Wage: $47,590

Louisiana:

  • Employment: 2,140

  • Employment per Thousand Jobs: 1.16

  • Location Quotient: 1.59

  • Hourly Mean Wage: $22.82

  • Annual Mean Wage: $47,470

Arkansas:

  • Employment: 1,410

  • Employment per Thousand Jobs: 1.14

  • Location Quotient: 1.57

  • Hourly Mean Wage: $22.47

  • Annual Mean Wage: $46,740

Alabama:

  • Employment: 2,260

  • Employment per Thousand Jobs: 1.13

  • Location Quotient: 1.55

  • Hourly Mean Wage: $20.89

  • Annual Mean Wage: $43,440

Oklahoma:

  • Employment: 1,810

  • Employment per Thousand Jobs: 1.12

  • Location Quotient: 1.55

  • Hourly Mean Wage: $23.83

  • Annual Mean Wage: $49,560

Top paying industries for STs

STs have the opportunity to earn competitive salaries in various industries that rely on their specialized skills. Like the location they’ll be pursuing their career in, the work industry also has a big impact on their salary. These top-paying ST industries offer lucrative opportunities for career advancements aside from the pay:

  • Outpatient Care Centers: $56,470

  • Offices of Physicians: $50,220

  • Hospitals; State, Local, and Private: $48,310

  • Offices of Dentists: $48,070

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Additional certifications to maximize your salary

Obtaining additional certifications can significantly impact your salary and open doors to greater career opportunities. Your formal training is your gateway to entering the field, but pursuing advanced certifications enhances your expertise. Investing in ongoing education and obtaining relevant certifications certainly maximizes your earning potential. Here are some certifications/specializations you can pursue to grow your paycheck:

Certification Descriptions:

  • Certified Surgical Technologist (CST)

    • Most recognized certifications for STs.

    • Offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

    • To earn this, you need to pass the CST exam.

    • Covers various aspects of surgical technology.

  • Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C)

    • Offered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT).

    • Demonstrates your competency and proficiency in surgical technology.

    • To obtain this certification, you must pass the TS-C exam.

  • Certified First Assistant (CFA)

    • Perfect if you're interested in advancing your role and assisting the surgeon directly.

    • Offered by the NBSTSA and requires additional education and clinical experience beyond the ST role.

  • Certified Surgical Services Manager (CSSM)

    • For STs who have moved into management or leadership positions within the surgical services department.

    • Offered by the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN).

  • Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS)

    • Can be beneficial if you work in a surgical environment where cardiac emergencies may occur.

    • Not specific to STs but can also be an option.

    • A specialized certification that focuses on advanced life support techniques for cardiovascular emergencies.

Final Thoughts

STs can look forward to a promising job outlook and competitive salary within the healthcare industry. With the growing demand and advancements in surgical procedures, the need for skilled professionals is on the rise. Because of this, there is an abundance of job opportunities and competitive salary rates. The average salary for STs is above the national average, reflecting the crucial role they play in the operating room. This guarantees a rewarding career that combines their passion for healthcare with job security.

Keziah Lim
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Keziah Lim
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