Find Grad Schools

Study Area & Zipcode

Surgical Assistant

Find Schools Near

Life As a Surgical Assistant

Job Description: Assist surgeons during surgery by performing duties such as tissue retraction, insertion of tubes and intravenous lines, or closure of surgical wounds. Perform preoperative and postoperative duties to facilitate patient care.

List of Surgical Assistant Job Duties

  • Monitor and maintain aseptic technique throughout procedures.
  • Assist members of surgical team with gowning or gloving.
  • Cover patients with surgical drapes to create and maintain a sterile operative field.
  • Clamp, ligate, or cauterize blood vessels to control bleeding during surgical entry, using hemostatic clamps, suture ligatures, or electrocautery equipment.
  • Adjust and maintain operating room temperature, humidity, or lighting, according to surgeon’s specifications.
  • Pass instruments or supplies to surgeon during procedure.

What Skills Do You Need to Work as a Surgical Assistant?

When polled, Surgical Assistants say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Coordination: Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.

Types of Surgical Assistant Jobs

  • Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA)
  • Surgical First Assistant
  • Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA)
  • Operating Room Technician
  • Gastrointestinal Technician (GI Technician)

Is There Going to be Demand for Surgical Assistants?

In the United States, there were 127,800 jobs for Surgical Assistant in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 19.6% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 25,100 new jobs for Surgical Assistant by 2026. The BLS estimates 11,000 yearly job openings in this field.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Surgical Assistants in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Surgical Assistant are Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. Watch out if you plan on working in Illinois, Rhode Island, or Kansas. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Surgical Assistant Average Salary

Surgical Assistants make between $28,130 and $72,720 a year.

Salary Ranges for Surgical Assistants

Surgical Assistants who work in New Mexico, Alaska, or Washington, make the highest salaries.

How much do Surgical Assistants make in different U.S. states?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $46,230
Alaska $62,580
Arizona $48,840
Arkansas $42,300
California $50,150
Colorado $46,270
Connecticut $55,450
Delaware $48,900
District of Columbia $54,210
Florida $42,730
Georgia $46,960
Hawaii $54,660
Idaho $48,750
Illinois $47,590
Indiana $49,300
Iowa $42,590
Kansas $49,180
Kentucky $51,780
Louisiana $38,370
Maine $51,500
Maryland $44,590
Massachusetts $55,950
Michigan $45,640
Minnesota $55,940
Mississippi $36,900
Missouri $46,580
Montana $42,630
Nebraska $45,370
Nevada $45,980
New Hampshire $50,390
New Jersey $53,570
New Mexico $60,690
New York $55,700
North Carolina $39,230
North Dakota $46,370
Ohio $42,780
Oklahoma $43,960
Oregon $54,520
Pennsylvania $43,070
Rhode Island $55,490
South Carolina $42,820
South Dakota $54,290
Tennessee $64,010
Texas $43,990
Utah $41,150
Vermont $50,140
Virginia $48,050
Washington $59,950
West Virginia $43,490
Wisconsin $44,080
Wyoming $51,120

What Tools do Surgical Assistants Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Surgical Assistants may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Word processing software
  • MEDITECH software
  • Electronic medical record EMR software
  • Palm OS
  • Patient tracking software
  • Nursing documentation software
  • Patient scheduling software
  • Supply documentation software
  • Surgery workflow communication software

How do I Become a Surgical Assistant?

What kind of Surgical Assistant requirements are there?

Surgical Assistant Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Surgical Assistant Work Experience

Where do Surgical Assistants Work?

Surgical Assistant Sectors

The table below shows the approximate number of Surgical Assistants employed by various industries.

Surgical Assistant Industries


Image Credit: via

More about our data sources and methodologies.

Featured Schools

Find Graduate Schools Near You

Our free school finder matches students with accredited graduate schools across the U.S.