A surgical environment has to always be in its most organized and most sterile form. Since doctors and medical teams usually have their hands thoroughly preparing for the operation, this task is generally reserved for a couple of specialized experts known as surgical technologists.
Also known as operating room technicians and scrub techs, surgical technologists are in charge of sterilizing operating rooms and equipment, ensuring patients are prepared for the procedure, and arranging surgical tools in an organized manner so that the operation goes as smoothly as possible.
These are undoubtedly vital tasks that require surgeries to be practically impossible. But how much does a surgical technologist earn? And are there ways to improve the earning potential?
We provide the answers to these and more below.
How Much Does a Surgical Technologist Earn?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the median salary for a surgical technologist is $48,530. Those who fall into the 50th percentile by earning can expect to earn that amount.
At the top of the pyramid, however, those who fall into the 90th percentile earn as much as $75,940 annually. At the lower end, surgical technologists who fall into the bottom ten percent earn as little as $36,930.
There are reasons for this disparity. Below, we look at some of the most critical factors determining where a surgical technologist will fall in earning potential.
Factors Affecting a Surgical Technologist’s Annual Salary
Factors affecting a surgical technologist’s annual salary are similar to those involving the salary of any allied healthcare profession. They include:
Usually, one of the most important reasons why a surgical technologist can earn more than another is the level of education between them. While most surgical technologists begin their careers with an associate’s degree, it is possible to start working with a certificate or work experience.
Naturally, those with a higher level of education will be able to negotiate a higher salary than those with a lower qualification.
Another essential factor to consider when analyzing the disparity between the earnings of the top 10 percent and bottom 10 percent of surgical technologists is their experience level.
Even though the job description may remain the same, those with more experience on the job often earn more than those just starting. This is quite understandable as employers value experience, particularly in allied healthcare fields where the margin of error for mistakes is often razor-thin.
Location plays a massive role in determining how much a surgical technologist earns. This is a common phenomenon in many allied healthcare occupations and in most professions, regardless of the particular field.
For this reason, those in states like California, where there is a higher demand for surgical technologists, will earn more than those in states where demand isn’t relatively high.
Additionally, it is possible for operating room technicians in the same state to earn different amounts in salary every year. This is because salary ranges and demand tend to vary from city to city inside the same condition, just as it does from state to state in the same country.
It is easier to secure employment as a surgical technologist with the proper certification, which most employers are on the lookout for. Negotiating a high salary without one is almost impossible.
This is why most surgical technologists make it a point of order to get certified immediately after they’re done with their training programs. Failure to do so may put them at the lower percentile of earners in the field or deprive them of employment opportunities altogether.
Type of Medical Facility
Surgical technologists can choose which medical facility they work in. The options range from physicians’ offices, outpatient care centers, and even officers of dentists. This decision can also influence how much they can take home every year.
According to data from the BLS, surgical technologists working in outpatient care centers earn a median annual wage of $56,470, those who work in physicians’ offices earn $50,220, and state, local, and private hospital workers earn $48,310. In contrast, offices of dentists pay $48,070.
While education, facility, and work experience are regarded as the three most important factors affecting the salary range of a surgical technologist, work schedule is another factor that plays a key role, albeit not as significant.
For instance, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that those who work as full-time surgical technologists can maximize their earnings through additional benefit packages from their employers.
These packages include sick leave, vacation, healthcare, holiday pay, and a 401K plan. Of course, working part-time may supplement their earnings by working in multiple facilities, but they are not entitled to the same benefit packages.
Surgical Technologist Career Outlook
The career outlook for surgical technologists is quite promising, just like that for most allied healthcare professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for surgical technologists will grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031.
This is in line with the national average for all occupations, and we’ll see about 9,600 new job openings each year for the estimated period.
The projection for surgical technologists owes its positive outlook to the following reasons:
- Replacing Workers - One of the primary reasons cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is that workers already in the field will transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force entirely. This set of workers will need to be replaced by new ones.
- Advances in Medical Technology - As medical technology advances, new forms of surgery for various illnesses and diseases will necessitate hiring more surgical technologists to help with these procedures.
- Aging Population - The aging baby boomer population is another reason cited for the growth in demand for surgical technologists over the next decade.
- Openness to Medical Procedures - Lastly, more of the population is more open to surgical procedures. This will see more people opting to undergo more functions, which in turn will necessitate the employment of more surgical technologists.