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Surgical Technologists

Surgical Technologists


Schools and Education

Fast Facts*
Recommended Degree LevelCertificate or Higher
Salary, Typical$41,790
Salary Range$30K - $60K
Number of Jobs, 201297,150
Annual Job Growth Rate3.3%
Job Openings per Year (est.)3,390

What's needed:

  • Complete an accredited surgical technology program that can vary in length from nine months for a certificate and up to two years for an associate degree.
  • Programs are offered by colleges, vocational schools, and hospitals. All accredited programs include internships in clinical settings for hands-on practice.
  • The entrance requirement is usually a high school diploma or equivalent.

What you study: Study topics usually include:

  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Surgical procedures
  • Surgical techniques
  • Operating room sterilization and safety
  • Medical terminology
  • Patient care

What courses you'll take

Below are examples of courses that you'll likely take as a surgical technologist student.

Course Studies Purpose
Introduction to Surgical Technology Structure and function of the operating room environment; types of technological instruments used in surgery; responsibilities and roles of the surgical technician in a team context; basic terminology and medical communication; ethical and legal considerations in the field. Familiarize students with the tools and techniques they'll be using as surgical technologists.
Perioperative Procedures Preparing the operating room and patient for surgery; sanitation concerns such as asepsis (keeping the operating room and patient free from disease-causing contaminants), disinfection and sterilization; care of patients post-surgery. Enable students to maintain patient health and safety immediately before, during and after surgery.
Surgical Techniques and Procedures Roles of machines and related technologies in surgeries, particularly in maintaining blood circulation; transportation and positioning of a surgical patient; proper use of surgical instruments; main steps of common surgical procedures; surgical procedures; needles and suturing (stitching); wound care and healing. Prepare students to assist with the technological aspects of typical surgeries.
Surgical Specialties Surgical teams specializing in particular procedures, and their differences from general surgical teams; the surgical technologist's role in the fields of gynecology (medicine dealing with the female reproductive system), genitourinary surgery (surgery dealing with the urinary tract and genitals), otorhinolarynology (medicine dealing with the throat and mouth), and neurosurgery. Give more details on possible career paths within more specialized surgical technology roles.
Pharmacology and Anesthesia Types of drugs used in surgical settings, and their effects; pharmacokinetics (what the body does to a drug) and pharmacodynamics (what a drug does to the body); drug dosages and systems of measurement; methods of administering drugs to a surgical patient and maintaining them at appropriate levels throughout surgery. Ready students to recognize and safely administer drugs.

Video Overview

A quick introduction into a surgical technologist career. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.


Certifications and Licensing

Becoming certified is currently voluntary in most states. However, certification improves job and advancement opportunities and is in growing demand.

Certification involves successfully completing an approved educational program and passing a credentialing examination. The profession recognizes two main credentialing organizations. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting offers the Certified Surgical Technologist certification while the National Center for Competency Testing confers the Tech in Surgery Certified.


Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

Surgical technologists work scheduled shifts that may sometimes include overtime. Due to the critical nature of surgery, they may also be on call or work evenings and weekends. Outpatient settings such as physician offices are more likely to observe regular weekday hours.

Work location:

Most surgical technologists work on site with hospital surgical teams and spend much of their time in operating rooms. Others assist with outpatient surgery in clinics and medical offices.


Recommended Websites

  • U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook -- The site provides a factual overview of the surgical technologist profession. It's a good starting point for learning the basics about the field. Information is divided into sections on job duties, education, employment outlook and other fundamentals. Once you have a solid idea, build on it by exploring other websites that present the profession in richer detail.
  • The Association of Surgical Technologists -- AST is the professional association for surgical technologists. The site offers a wealth of information about all aspects of the field and is an excellent resource for those considering the profession in more depth. Web sections provide detailed coverage of job duties, education and certification, and topics important to the surgical profession. The career center section offers searchable job listings, employment tips, and career development resources. To help you understand your education options, the site includes a list of accredited training programs.
  • The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting -- This organization provides the most widely recognized certification for surgical technologists. The site's examinations section clearly explains the certification process. It also includes a comprehensive page on test information that covers everything from how to schedule an exam to options for military personnel on active duty.
  • National Center for Competency Testing -- NCCT is an organization offering independent certification in surgical technology as well as other allied health fields. The site provides a well-organized and straightforward look at the credentialing process.


Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column -- for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
AKAnchorage$53,300$42K - $71K1100.06%
ALAnniston - Oxford$29,470$21K - $47K500.12%
ALBirmingham - Hoover$31,690$24K - $45K5200.11%
ALDecatur$31,420$21K - $39K700.14%
ALFlorence - Muscle Shoals$34,580$25K - $46K500.11%
ALHuntsville$39,060$29K - $54K2600.13%
ALMobile$32,610$25K - $39K1600.10%
ALMontgomery$31,010$19K - $45K2800.18%
ALTuscaloosa$36,440$25K - $53K900.10%
ARFayetteville - Springdale - Rogers$39,050$29K - $70K400.02%
ARFort Smith$33,560$26K - $44K1100.09%
ARJonesboro$33,280$27K - $45K300.06%
ARLittle Rock - North Little Rock - Conway$41,000$26K - $58K5000.15%
AZLake Havasu City $ Kingman$42,810$31K - $59K1000.23%
AZPhoenix - Mesa - Glendale$47,370$34K - $61K1,3100.08%
AZTucson$43,790$29K - $63K3900.11%
CABakersfield - Delano$37,530$27K - $58KN/AN/A
CAChico$56,760$41K - $76K500.08%
CAEl Centro$40,590$33K - $47K400.07%
CAFresno$56,000$38K - $83K1900.06%
CAHanford - Corcoran$46,210$37K - $70K700.18%
CALos Angeles - Long Beach - Glendale (Metro Area)$48,430$35K - $72K2,6100.07%
CAModesto$58,930$38K - $75K1000.07%
CANapa$49,810$39K - $70K400.07%
CAOakland - Fremont - Hayward (Metro Area)$67,670$46K - $90K7000.07%
CAOxnard - Thousand Oaks - Ventura$48,540$39K - $67K1600.05%
CARedding$52,820$37K - $72K500.09%
CARiverside - San Bernardino - Ontario$43,260$32K - $58K6600.06%
CASacramento - Arden - Arcade - Roseville$59,340$43K - $88K6600.08%
CASalinas$50,760$37K - $61KN/AN/A
CASan Diego - Carlsbad - San Marcos$54,050$41K - $71K6900.05%
CASan Francisco - San Mateo - Redwood City (Metro Area)$60,060$40K - $88K5900.06%
CASan Jose - Sunnyvale - Santa Clara$59,650$44K - $87K5500.06%
CASan Luis Obispo - Paso Robles$44,230$38K - $60K1100.11%
CASanta Ana - Anaheim - Irvine (Metro Area)$54,510$40K - $73K6700.05%
CASanta Barbara - Santa Maria - Goleta$46,410$23K - $62K1300.07%
CASanta Cruz - Watsonville$56,020$39K - $73K500.05%
CASanta Rosa - Petaluma$54,710$46K - $69K3000.17%
CAStockton$51,120$36K - $71K1200.06%
CAVallejo - Fairfield$73,360$48K - $92K1100.09%
CAVisalia - Porterville$47,270$37K - $60K400.03%
COBoulder$40,030$32K - $69K900.06%
COColorado Springs$40,480$29K - $54K1200.05%
CODenver - Aurora - Broomfield$52,510$36K - $73K1,0000.08%
COFort Collins - Loveland$47,400$35K - $68K900.07%
COGrand Junction$45,610$33K - $59KN/AN/A
COPueblo$40,080$26K - $55K700.12%
CTBridgeport - Stamford - Norwalk$54,560$35K - $70K1800.04%
CTHartford - West Hartford - East Hartford$49,140$34K - $69K3200.06%
CTNew Haven$55,980$48K - $69K2400.09%
CTNorwich - New London$48,450$36K - $69K800.06%
DCWashington - Arlington - Alexandria (Metro Area)$46,710$32K - $70K1,4800.06%
DEWilmington (Metro Area)$43,120$33K - $56K2200.07%
FLCape Coral - Fort Myers$39,780$31K - $48K2900.14%
FLCrestview - Fort Walton Beach - Destin$38,480$28K - $48K500.07%
FLDeltona - Daytona Beach - Ormond Beach$36,600$27K - $52K2300.15%
FLFort Lauderdale - Pompano Beach - Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)$39,370$32K - $47K5100.07%
FLGainesville$37,440$28K - $47K2400.20%
FLJacksonville$37,920$31K - $49K7200.12%
FLLakeland - Winter Haven$37,200$31K - $48K2100.11%
FLMiami - Miami Beach - Kendall (Metro Area)$38,220$28K - $53K8700.09%
FLNaples - Marco Island$43,400$33K - $58K800.07%
FLNorth Port - Bradenton - Sarasota$39,680$32K - $50K1800.08%
FLOcala$34,560$21K - $45K1000.11%
FLOrlando - Kissimmee - Sanford$36,520$27K - $46K6400.06%
FLPalm Bay - Melbourne - Titusville$36,390$27K - $52K1200.07%
FLPanama City - Lynn Haven - Panama City Beach$35,220$27K - $45K1100.16%
FLPensacola - Ferry Pass - Brent$37,060$30K - $47K1400.10%
FLPort St. Lucie$39,810$29K - $47K1200.10%
FLPunta Gorda$44,350$32K - $56K700.17%
FLSebastian - Vero Beach$35,170$31K - $47K600.12%
FLTallahassee$35,510$28K - $40K800.05%
FLTampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater$37,330$28K - $50K9300.08%
FLWest Palm Beach - Boca Raton - Boynton Beach (Metro Area)$37,730$32K - $53K4800.10%
GAAlbany$43,970$33K - $60K600.11%
GAAthens - Clarke County$37,790$29K - $49K1000.13%
GAAtlanta - Sandy Springs - Marietta$40,900$31K - $58K1,5000.07%
GAAugusta - Richmond County$35,700$26K - $46K2700.14%
GAColumbus$38,560$27K - $47K900.09%
GADalton$35,400$27K - $45K300.05%
GAMacon$37,130$30K - $48K1200.13%
GARome$35,740$27K - $48K700.20%
GASavannah$35,450$26K - $46K1500.10%
HIHonolulu$56,930$35K - $73K2400.05%
IACedar Rapids$37,000$28K - $53K500.04%
IADavenport - Moline - Rock Island$38,810$31K - $54K1200.07%
IADes Moines - West Des Moines$38,970$32K - $48K1100.03%
IADubuque$37,690$32K - $49KN/AN/A
IAIowa City$38,960$33K - $47K600.08%
IDBoise City - Nampa$40,230$30K - $56K2600.10%
IDCoeur d'Alene, ID$36,730$31K - $48K800.16%
IDIdaho FallsN/AN/A - N/A500.11%
ILBloomington - Normal$38,860$29K - $58K800.09%
ILChampaign - Urbana$43,740$38K - $49K300.03%
ILChicago - Joliet - Naperville (Metro Area)$44,340$32K - $59K1,5400.04%
ILLake County - Kenosha County (Metro Area)$45,480$33K - $59K1600.04%
ILPeoria$38,340$28K - $47K2700.15%
ILRockford$39,590$33K - $53K900.06%
ILSpringfield$40,470$31K - $55K1100.10%
INBloomington$38,370$27K - $52K800.11%
INEvansville$39,660$30K - $49K1600.09%
INFort Wayne$38,170$27K - $46K2200.11%
INGary (Metro Area)$42,300$32K - $56K2300.09%
INIndianapolis - Carmel$40,780$32K - $51K7400.08%
INKokomo$37,370$31K - $47K300.08%
INLafayette$36,350$31K - $48K900.10%
INMuncie$40,660$31K - $49K400.09%
INSouth Bend - Mishawaka$37,910$32K - $47KN/AN/A
KSTopeka$38,760$29K - $48K900.09%
KSWichita$40,240$30K - $57K2200.08%
KYBowling Green$37,960$28K - $56K1100.19%
KYLexington - Fayette$37,780$27K - $48K3400.14%
KYLouisville - Jefferson County$41,250$32K - $51K5800.10%
KYOwensboro$33,660$26K - $43K700.15%
LAAlexandria$37,500$28K - $47K1000.17%
LABaton Rouge$36,510$27K - $48K3600.10%
LAHouma - Bayou Cane - Thibodaux$34,970$28K - $46K900.09%
LALafayette$36,050$26K - $48K1000.06%
LALake Charles$40,050$26K - $54K900.10%
LAMonroe$34,580$26K - $45K1100.15%
LANew Orleans - Metairie - Kenner$38,360$30K - $48K5000.10%
LAShreveport - Bossier City$33,250$26K - $44K1700.10%
MABarnstable Town$52,120$41K - $68KN/AN/A
MABoston - Cambridge - Quincy (Metro Area)$48,050$30K - $73K1,3000.08%
MABrockton - Bridgewater - Easton (Metro Area)$43,530$33K - $61KN/AN/A
MAFramingham (Metro Area)$49,060$38K - $59K300.02%
MALowell - Billerica - Chelmsford (Metro Area)$42,920$33K - $56KN/AN/A
MANew Bedford$48,710$35K - $60KN/AN/A
MAPeabody (Metro Area)$46,980$39K - $75K700.07%
MASpringfield$51,770$36K - $68K2200.08%
MDBaltimore - Towson$46,850$32K - $66K1,1500.09%
MDBethesda - Rockville - Frederick (Metro Area)$47,140$36K - $72K3200.06%
MDHagerstown - Martinsburg$48,730$32K - $62KN/AN/A
MELewiston - Auburn$37,860$27K - $55K700.15%
MEPortland - South Portland - Biddeford$40,810$33K - $60K2300.12%
MIAnn Arbor$42,870$31K - $53KN/AN/A
MIBay City$35,620$27K - $49K600.17%
MIDetroit - Livonia - Dearborn (Metro Area)$41,220$31K - $51K5400.08%
MIFlint$41,670$32K - $47K1600.13%
MIGrand Rapids - Wyoming$39,590$26K - $53K3800.10%
MIHolland - Grand Haven$41,420$33K - $48K500.05%
MIKalamazoo - Portage$42,260$32K - $57K900.07%
MIMuskegon - Norton Shores$42,660$33K - $56K600.11%
MINiles - Benton Harbor$36,290$30K - $48KN/AN/A
MIWarren - Troy - Farmington Hills (Metro Area)$41,850$33K - $56K4800.04%
MNDuluth$48,130$40K - $67K2000.17%
MNMankato - North Mankato$46,370$39K - $59KN/AN/A
MNMinneapolis - St. Paul - Bloomington$50,230$40K - $59K8800.05%
MNSt. Cloud$48,190$39K - $64K1100.12%
MOCape Girardeau - Jackson$42,240$28K - $59K900.21%
MOKansas City$42,890$32K - $57K5200.05%
MOSpringfield$36,020$26K - $46K2900.16%
MOSt. Louis$39,120$31K - $56K8400.07%
MSGulfport - Biloxi$34,350$26K - $46K1300.13%
MSHattiesburg$32,300$24K - $38K1200.21%
MSJackson$36,000$25K - $48K4500.18%
MTBillings$39,900$24K - $67K900.11%
MTMissoula$40,500$32K - $57K1200.21%
NCCharlotte - Gastonia - Rock Hill$39,870$32K - $48K7500.09%
NCDurham - Chapel Hill$41,680$33K - $57K3200.12%
NCFayetteville$38,600$31K - $49K1200.09%
NCGreensboro - High Point$36,980$28K - $47K1700.05%
NCGreenville$37,740$31K - $53K1100.15%
NCHickory - Lenoir - Morganton$39,300$30K - $56K1600.12%
NCRaleigh - Cary$39,690$32K - $54K3000.06%
NCWilmington$41,750$31K - $55K1400.11%
NCWinston - Salem$37,480$31K - $47K2200.11%
NDBismarck$36,200$32K - $43K1000.15%
NDFargo$39,800$30K - $56K1000.08%
NDGrand Forks$44,010$32K - $62K500.09%
NELincoln$39,620$32K - $48K1600.10%
NEOmaha - Council Bluffs$41,450$32K - $55K4000.09%
NHManchester$49,590$37K - $60K600.06%
NHPortsmouth$63,010$39K - $88KN/AN/A
NJAtlantic City - Hammonton$43,840$35K - $56K500.04%
NJCamden (Metro Area)$43,450$33K - $56K2600.05%
NJEdison - New Brunswick (Metro Area)$43,210$31K - $58K4100.04%
NJNewark - Union (Metro Area)$45,080$35K - $58K3700.04%
NJTrenton - Ewing$40,510$33K - $55K600.03%
NJVineland - Millville - Bridgeton$40,420$33K - $55K400.08%
NMAlbuquerque$40,160$30K - $55K2300.06%
NVLas Vegas - Paradise$55,800$39K - $74K6400.08%
NVReno - Sparks$49,370$34K - $61K1400.08%
NYAlbany - Schenectady - Troy$36,330$26K - $54K3000.07%
NYBuffalo - Niagara Falls$50,590$38K - $59K3000.06%
NYElmira$39,940$27K - $58KN/AN/A
NYNassau - Suffolk (Metro Area)$51,560$36K - $68K6700.05%
NYNew York - White Plains - Wayne (Metro Area)$47,260$33K - $69K2,9600.06%
NYPoughkeepsie - Newburgh - Middletown$46,590$32K - $62K1800.07%
NYRochester$36,520$27K - $48K2900.06%
NYSyracuse$42,000$29K - $60K2600.09%
NYUtica - Rome$41,240$31K - $52KN/AN/A
OHAkron$41,120$33K - $49K1700.05%
OHCanton - Massillon$42,190$32K - $58K1400.08%
OHCincinnati - Middletown$43,440$32K - $69K5900.06%
OHCleveland - Elyria - Mentor$40,900$31K - $56K1,1000.11%
OHColumbus$39,970$32K - $55K4600.05%
OHDayton$42,590$34K - $52K2300.06%
OHLima$38,730$32K - $58K400.08%
OHSpringfield$35,330$32K - $39K500.10%
OHToledo$40,550$32K - $52K2800.10%
OHYoungstown - Warren - Boardman$37,230$30K - $54K1300.06%
OKLawton$30,420$23K - $95K900.22%
OKOklahoma City$35,460$25K - $50K6900.12%
OKTulsa$34,960$24K - $54K6200.15%
ORBend$43,880$23K - $58K600.10%
OREugene - Springfield$47,530$33K - $61K1300.10%
ORMedford$42,840$33K - $57K500.07%
ORPortland - Vancouver - Hillsboro$49,230$36K - $61K4700.05%
ORSalem$44,970$33K - $58K700.05%
PAAllentown - Bethlehem - Easton$42,750$30K - $58K2000.06%
PAAltoona$37,150$32K - $47K400.07%
PAErie$30,480$24K - $39K700.05%
PAHarrisburg - Carlisle$39,620$29K - $57K2700.09%
PALancaster$36,030$27K - $53K1600.07%
PAPhiladelphia (Metro Area)$42,120$32K - $54K6700.04%
PAPittsburgh$37,070$28K - $50K8000.07%
PAReading$42,800$33K - $55K1100.07%
PAScranton - Wilkes - Barre$38,780$27K - $54K1900.08%
PAWilliamsport$41,890$33K - $49K500.10%
PAYork - Hanover$47,620$37K - $71K1200.07%
PRMayaguez$17,690$16K - $21K500.15%
PRPonce$18,030$16K - $27K800.15%
PRSan Juan - Caguas - Guaynabo$18,880$16K - $30K5700.08%
RIProvidence - Fall River - Warwick$46,090$30K - $61K4000.07%
SCAnderson$33,080$26K - $47K700.13%
SCCharleston - North Charleston - Summerville$38,920$29K - $47K2000.07%
SCColumbia$36,170$26K - $51K3800.11%
SCFlorence$37,530$27K - $48K2300.28%
SCGreenville - Mauldin - Easley$36,670$29K - $46K3300.11%
SCMyrtle Beach - North Myrtle Beach - Conway$36,090$28K - $47K800.07%
SCSpartanburg$37,360$25K - $47K900.08%
SDRapid City$36,640$27K - $47K800.13%
SDSioux Falls$37,360$30K - $47K2200.16%
TNChattanooga$36,120$27K - $48K3600.16%
TNClarksville$36,890$28K - $52K900.11%
TNJackson$32,640$25K - $44K1500.25%
TNJohnson City$37,660$28K - $47K1300.17%
TNKingsport - Bristol - Bristol$35,170$26K - $46K1300.11%
TNKnoxville$35,450$31K - $45K6000.18%
TNMemphis$37,330$29K - $47K7400.13%
TNMorristown$30,000$21K - $40K600.12%
TNNashville - Davidson - Murfreesboro - Franklin$39,970$31K - $58K5600.08%
TXAbilene$33,610$19K - $47K1400.23%
TXAmarillo$40,120$30K - $57K2100.19%
TXAustin - Round Rock - San Marcos$42,420$32K - $58K5600.07%
TXBeaumont - Port Arthur$41,600$29K - $58K1600.10%
TXBrownsville - Harlingen$43,500$33K - $60K1200.09%
TXCollege Station - Bryan$36,660$23K - $48K900.09%
TXCorpus Christi$40,530$29K - $56K1900.11%
TXDallas - Plano - Irving (Metro Area)$40,310$31K - $58K2,1100.10%
TXEl Paso$39,090$28K - $56K1800.06%
TXFort Worth - Arlington (Metro Area)$49,800$35K - $71K9100.10%
TXHouston - Sugar Land - Baytown$45,640$34K - $60K2,1200.08%
TXKilleen - Temple - Fort Hood$35,720$27K - $49K1100.09%
TXLaredo$39,720$27K - $58KN/AN/A
TXLongview$36,560$29K - $47K700.08%
TXMcAllen - Edinburg - Mission$45,040$33K - $61K1600.07%
TXOdessa$47,960$34K - $63K1000.14%
TXSan Antonio - New Braunfels$36,670$25K - $54K1,0500.12%
TXTexarkana - Texarkana$37,850$29K - $57KN/AN/A
TXTyler$38,890$30K - $53K1300.14%
TXVictoria$33,110$22K - $50K700.14%
TXWaco$37,180$26K - $56K1000.10%
TXWichita Falls$35,620$27K - $66K600.12%
UTOgden - Clearfield$35,270$28K - $51K1300.07%
UTProvo - Orem$36,830$27K - $58K1200.07%
UTSalt Lake City$36,290$28K - $52K4000.06%
UTSt. George$48,620$32K - $60K400.08%
VABlacksburg - Christiansburg - Radford$33,320$26K - $44KN/AN/A
VALynchburg$35,750$26K - $45K500.05%
VARichmond$44,320$30K - $67K4400.07%
VARoanoke$37,160$27K - $49K1900.13%
VAVirginia Beach - Norfolk - Newport News$42,520$33K - $67K6400.09%
VAWinchester$46,740$34K - $59K700.14%
WABremerton - Silverdale$50,270$34K - $59K400.05%
WAKennewick - Pasco - Richland$47,020$34K - $59KN/AN/A
WAOlympia$49,490$32K - $70K600.06%
WASeattle - Bellevue - Everett (Metro Area)$52,110$40K - $69K9500.07%
WASpokane$48,910$37K - $61K2500.13%
WATacoma (Metro Area)$45,960$33K - $60K2500.10%
WAYakima$41,020$31K - $55K1400.17%
WIAppleton$46,240$39K - $63K1400.13%
WIEau Claire$45,410$34K - $59K1100.15%
WIGreen Bay$45,230$34K - $59K1800.11%
WIJanesville$43,770$34K - $59K600.09%
WILa Crosse$46,090$35K - $66K1100.15%
WIMadison$48,410$37K - $69K1400.04%
WIMilwaukee - Waukesha - West Allis$51,570$39K - $68K9900.12%
WIOshkosh - Neenah$47,800$36K - $83K1000.11%
WIRacine$47,180$35K - $60K600.08%
WIWausau$44,150$34K - $57K900.14%
WVCharleston$32,620$24K - $44K1400.09%
WVHuntington - Ashland$37,640$28K - $47K1700.16%
WVParkersburg - Marietta - Vienna$33,520$24K - $42K1000.15%
WVWheeling$33,910$26K - $44K600.09%