Surgical Assistants
SOC: 29-2099.07


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.

National Salary Information:

Hourly Statistics:

Annual Statistics:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data.

Employment Projections:

Employment (2014):
102,200 employed

Projected (2024):
125,900 employed

Projected growth (2014-2024)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 2014-2024 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

Alternate Titles:

  • Assistant-at-Surgery
  • Certified First Assistant (CFA)
  • Certified Registered Nurse First Assistant (CRNFA)
  • Certified Surgical Assistant (CSA)
  • Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA)
  • Certified Surgical Technician
  • First Assistant
  • Gastrointestinal Technician (GI Technician)
  • Operating Room Assistant
  • Operating Room Technician
  • Registered Nurse First Assistant (RNFA)
  • Surgery Technician
  • Surgical Assistant
  • Surgical Assistant-Certified (SA-C)
  • Surgical First Assistant
  • Surgical Scrub Technician (Surgical Scrub Tech)
  • Surgical Services Assistant
  • Surgical Technician (Surgical Tech)

  • Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed


    Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.


    Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

    Job Training:

    Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.

    Required Skills:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Critical Thinking
  • Active Learning
  • Learning Strategies
  • Monitoring
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Coordination
  • Persuasion
  • Negotiation
  • Instructing
  • Service Orientation
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Operations Analysis
  • Technology Design
  • Equipment Selection
  • Programming
  • Operation Monitoring
  • Operation and Control
  • Troubleshooting
  • Quality Control Analysis
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Systems Analysis
  • Systems Evaluation
  • Time Management
  • Management of Financial Resources
  • Management of Material Resources
  • Management of Personnel Resources

  • Knowledge Used:

  • Administration and Management
  • Clerical
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Personnel and Human Resources
  • Production and Processing
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Design
  • Mechanical
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Sociology and Anthropology
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Therapy and Counseling
  • Education and Training
  • English Language
  • Foreign Language
  • History and Archeology
  • Philosophy and Theology
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Law and Government
  • Telecommunications
  • Communications and Media
  • Transportation

  • Tasks:

  • Adjust and maintain operating room temperature, humidity, or lighting, according to surgeon's specifications.
  • Apply sutures, staples, clips, or other materials to close skin, facia, or subcutaneous wound layers.
  • Assess skin integrity or other body conditions upon completion of the procedure to determine if damage has occurred from body positioning.
  • Assist in the insertion, positioning, or suturing of closed-wound drainage systems.
  • Assist members of surgical team with gowning or gloving.
  • Clamp, ligate, or cauterize blood vessels to control bleeding during surgical entry, using hemostatic clamps, suture ligatures, or electrocautery equipment.
  • Coordinate or participate in the positioning of patients, using body stabilizing equipment or protective padding to provide appropriate exposure for the procedure or to protect against nerve damage or circulation impairment.
  • Coordinate with anesthesia personnel to maintain patient temperature.
  • Discuss with surgeon the nature of the surgical procedure, including operative consent, methods of operative exposure, diagnostic or laboratory data, or patient-advanced directives or other needs.
  • Incise tissue layers in lower extremities to harvest veins.
  • Maintain an unobstructed operative field, using surgical retractors, sponges, or suctioning and irrigating equipment.
  • Monitor and maintain aseptic technique throughout procedures.
  • Monitor patient intra-operative status, including patient position, vital signs, or volume and color of blood.
  • Postoperatively inject a subcutaneous local anesthetic agent to reduce pain.
  • Prepare and apply sterile wound dressings.
  • Assist in applying casts, splints, braces, or similar devices.
  • Assist in volume replacement or autotransfusion techniques.
  • Assist with patient resuscitation during cardiac arrest or other life-threatening events.
  • Cover patients with surgical drapes to create and maintain a sterile operative field.
  • Determine availability of necessary equipment or supplies for operative procedures.
  • Gather, arrange, or assemble instruments or supplies.
  • Insert or remove urinary bladder catheters.
  • Obtain or inspect sterile or non-sterile surgical equipment, instruments, or supplies.
  • Operate sterilizing devices.
  • Pass instruments or supplies to surgeon during procedure.
  • Remove patient hair or disinfect incision sites to prepare patient for surgery.
  • Transport patients to operating room.
  • Verify the identity of patient or operative site.

  • Tools & Technology:

  • Anesthesia carts
  • Angiocaths
  • Argon beam coagulators
  • Automated external defibrillators AED
  • Blanket warmer cabinets
  • Blood warming equipment
  • Body stabilizers
  • C-arm tables
  • Carbon dioxide CO2 lasers
  • Cardiac monitoring equipment
  • Cast cutting saws
  • Cauterizing equipment
  • Cell savers
  • Desktop computers
  • Endoscopic camera/video systems
  • Ethylene Oxide sterilizers
  • Eye lasers
  • Eye magnets
  • Fiberoptic endoscopes
  • Flash sterilizers
  • Fluid warmers
  • Head stabilizers
  • Heart pacemakers
  • Hemostat clamps
  • Hospital intercom equipment
  • Hypothermia units
  • Intravenous IV sets
  • Laparoscopes
  • Laptop computers
  • Mayo stands
  • Medical image processing printers
  • Medical staple kits
  • Multi-line telephone systems
  • Neodymium-doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnet Nd:YAG lasers
  • Nerve stimulators
  • Pagers
  • Patient positioning devices
  • Patient transport stretchers
  • Personal computers
  • Pneumatic tourniquets
  • Powered surgical drills
  • Pressure steam autoclaves
  • Specimen collection containers
  • Sterile drapes
  • Sterile gowns
  • Subcutaneous injection syringes
  • Suction machines
  • Surgical clamps
  • Surgical dermatomes
  • Surgical fracture tables
  • Surgical gloves
  • Surgical masks
  • Surgical protective goggles
  • Surgical razors
  • Surgical retractors
  • Surgical robots
  • Surgical scalpels
  • Surgical trocars
  • Suture kits
  • Telethermometers
  • Urinary catheters
  • Vascular clamps
  • Wound drains
  • Electronic medical record EMR software
  • MEDITECH software
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Nursing documentation software
  • Patient scheduling software
  • Patient tracking software
  • Supply documentation software
  • Surgery workflow communication software

  • healthcare practitioners and technical

    industry stats

    SOC: 29-0000

    Total Employed: 8,021,800

    Average Annual Salary: $77,800