California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Surgical Technologists in California

May also be called: Certified Surgical Technologists; Scrub Technicians; Surgery Technicians; Surgical Technicians

What Would I Do?

Working under the supervision of surgeons, Surgical Technologists provide surgical care to patients ensuring that invasive surgical procedures are being carried out safely and effectively. They help prepare the operating room by checking supplies and equipment needed for the surgical procedure. During surgery, they may pass surgical instruments and supplies to the surgeon or surgical assistant as well as hold retractors, cut sutures, and count sponges, needles, and other surgical instruments with the circulating nurse.

Surgical Technologists work in the operating rooms of hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, and surgeon's offices. Their work environment is generally sterile, well lit, cool, and well ventilated. They may stand for long hours, experience unpleasant sights, smells, and materials, and work closely with patients who may have communicable diseases. Most Technologists work a regular 40-hour week; however, they may be required to work irregular hours or a variety of shifts, as operations may be conducted at any time of the day or night.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Surgical Technologist may appeal to those who enjoy activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. People who like to work with materials, tools, and machinery, who communicate well with others, and who can pay close attention to detail might like this type of work.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The earnings for Surgical Technologists vary widely by employer, level of education, and experience. Additional pay is generally given to those who work on-call or overtime hours. In addition, shift differentials may be paid to those who work evening or overnight shifts. Surgical Technologists who privately work for surgeons or employment service firms generally receive higher salaries.

The median wage in 2021 for Surgical Technologists in California was $65,217 annually, or $31.35 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2021Low
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Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2021 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefits generally include medical, dental, life, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans. Some employers also provide tuition reimbursement and child care benefits.

What is the Job Outlook?

Employment growth is expected for Surgical Technologists, mainly because the number of surgical procedures is expected to rise as the population grows and ages. Demand will also be spurred by technological advances that are used in the field.

How Do I Qualify?

Surgical Technologists must possess a high school diploma (or equivalent) and complete an accredited surgical technology training program. Training programs typically last from 12 to 24 months and lead to a certificate, diploma, or associate degree.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Surgical Technologists can also register with their school's career center for job leads. Professional associations may list job openings on their Web sites. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet also provide additional sources for job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

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