How to Become a Surgical Technician: Career Advice & Information

Overview & Salaries


Surgical technicians support doctors and surgeons and ensure surgeries run smoothly. A surgical technician’s role starts with sterilizing the operating room and the surgical tools, and making sure the operating area is ready for use. Surgical technicians deal directly with patients and try to make them as comfortable as possible before an operation. Technicians are also responsible for applying antiseptics and other substances to a patient’s skin, and putting the patient in the right position for surgery. During surgery, the technician is responsible for making sure the surgeon has everything he or she needs, such as instruments, sutures, and sponges. In short, they’re involved in every part of the operating process, and their contribution is vital.


Annual salaries for surgical technicians will vary depending on your experience, education level, and expertise. In 2013, the average annual salary for surgical technicians working in the U.S. was $44,420 per year.

For more information on what parts of the country have the most opportunity for surgical technicians, click through to our Best Places to Work tab for information on the number of people employed and the average salary in each state.

Discover the Best Cities and States to Work in Surgical Technology

California leads the nation in employment for surgical technicians, with 9,440 making an average annual salary of $57,790. Texas is second, with 9,230 surgical technicians earning an average salary of $43,840.

The metro areas employing the most surgical technicians are:

  • New York-White Plains (3,000)
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach (2,700)
  • Dallas (2,110)

The metro areas employing the highest concentration of surgical technicians are:

  • Florence, SC (2.61 jobs per thousand)
  • Jackson, TN (2.35 jobs per thousand)

The metro areas employing the best-paid surgical technicians are:

  • Oakland, CA (average annual salary $70,500)
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, CA (average annual salary $69,680)

Employment and Salary Information for Surgical Technicians

Use our interactive map below to find out which areas of the United States are currently experiencing the greatest amount of growth and job availability for graduates looking for a career as a surgical technician. The associated information has been gathered from Bureau of Labor statistics, representing data collected in 2012.

Employment and Information Data for Surgical Technology

Why Become A Surgical Technician?

If surgery sounds important to you, being a surgical technician should too. Technicians makeit possible for surgeons to operate in a safe, sterile environment. Here are some of the advantages of the career:

  • Huge job growth. Healthcare in general is a growth industry, and the number of positions for surgical technicians is projected to grow by 30% between 2012 and 2022. That’s very rapid growth, and far faster than the average U.S. job.
  • Accessible way to enter the healthcare profession. Surgical technicians need a certificate or associate’s degree (see the Degree Options page) but not as much training as many other healthcare professionals. So it’s a good job if you want to start making a difference quickly.
  • Clinical skills. You’ll be an expert in the workings of the operating room as well as practical tasks like sterilization. Patients will look to you for guidance through the process.
  • Contribute to saving lives. Life-saving surgery couldn’t happen without surgical technicians.

Surgical Technology: What You Need To Know

A surgical technician needs a strong working knowledge of surgery and the ability to interact warmly and sensitively with patients.  A working knowledge of these skill sets will help to set you apart from other candidates.

  • Understanding of Surgical Procedures
  • Understanding of Surgical Techniques
  • Sterilization
  • Patient Management
  • Attention to Detail

Feel like you’ve got a lot to learn? Get more information about surgical technology careers, degrees, and applicable courses from one of the schools below.

Degree Options for Surgical Tech Careers


Many community colleges, vocational schools and hospitals offer certificates in surgical technology, some of which can be completed in just a few months.

Associate’s degree

Other healthcare employers may prefer an associate’s degree in surgical technology. Associate’s degrees are offered by many community colleges and vocational skills and normally take two years to complete. Programs usually feature coursework that covers topics such as anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology, sterilization techniques and other subjects.

On-the-job training is also a large part of a career in surgical technology. Most schools who offer programs in the study will give students hands-on, supervised clinical experience as part of their education.