Surgical operating room technicians, sometimes referred to as scrubs, are important members of any surgical team. These health-care professionals may work under the supervision of the surgeon, anesthesiologist, surgical nurse or other physicians. Surgical operating room techs prepare the operating room so the proper instruments, sterile drapes, solutions and medical equipment are in place. Most employers prefer to hire surgical operating room technicians who have formal training and certification. Salaries for operating room techs can vary significantly based on such factors as location and type of employment.
The mean annual salary for surgical operating room technicians across the United States was $40,710 as of May 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent of scrubs earned more than $55,620 per year, while the bottom 10 percent earned annual wages of less than $27,910. The middle 50 percentile earned between $33,090 and $47,310 per year. Salary.com placed the median annual income for surgical technologists at $39,574 as of April 2011.
The geographic location where a surgical operating room technician practices can significantly affect her pay rate. Scrubs who worked in Maryland earned the highest mean annual salaries in the country at $48,820 as of May 2009, according to the BLS. Those who worked in Nevada earned mean annual wages of $48,440. Surgical operating room technicians who worked in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington state also earned mean annual wages in excess of $45,000. Those who worked in West Virginia earned the lowest mean annual wages in the country at $31,910.
Approximately 2/3 of surgical operating room technicians were employed by general medical and surgical hospitals as of May 2009, according to the BLS. Scrubs who were employed by hospitals earned a mean annual salary of $40,330. Private physicians' offices and outpatient care centers were also significant employers of operating room techs. These employers paid mean annual wages of between $41,260 and $41,320. Scrubs who worked for employment services earned a mean annual wage of $48,220.
The BLS anticipates continued strong demand for new surgical operating room technicians through at least 2018, with job growth of 25 percent. Competition for their services between hospitals, private doctors' offices, ambulatory surgical centers, and outpatient care centers should result in increased wages. Employment opportunities for surgical operating room technicians may vary regionally, so those who are able and willing to relocate should have better employment opportunities.