A position as a Certified Surgical Assistant can be quite rewarding and lucrative. However, sometimes a technologist may choose to advance their career even further by becoming a Surgical Assistant. This position requires a good bit more training and education than that of a Certified Surgical Technologist, but the rewards can be great. For example, a Surgical Assistant Salary tends to be much higher than a technician salary.
Surgical Assistant Salary: The Numbers
Surgical Assistants may also be called First Assistants. The highest an assistant can go without actually becoming a licensed physician is a physician’s assistant. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the physician’s assistant field will experience a growth more rapid than that of Certified Surgical Technologists at a rate of 39 percent by the year 2018. The median Physician Assistant Salary is $81,000, with some assistants making as much as $110,000 per year.
Comparatively, Certified Surgical Technologists average an income of about $38,000 to $45,000 per year. Since surgical assistants fall in the middle of these two in terms of training and specialty, one could expect to earn a Surgical Assistant Salary of approximately $60,000 to $65,000 per year.
With numbers like that, it is hard to argue that continuing one’s education in pursuit of a Surgical Assistant degree isn’t worth the effort. However, qualifying for the position does require highly specialized training and education. In some cases, a Surgical Assistant may actually perform minor surgeries under the direct supervision of a licensed physician.
Becoming a Surgical Assistant
If a person is already a Certified Surgical Technologist, then they are well on the way to becoming a Surgical Assistant. It may be possible to apply course credits toward a Surgical Assistant degree, however, this is entirely at the discretion of the educational facility. As with training to become a Certified Surgical Technologist, it is important that Surgical Assistant students choose colleges or technical schools that have the appropriate accreditations.
Students may take a Surgical Assistant Exam through The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, which is the same organization that administers Certified Surgical Technologist exams. The fee for this exam is $499. There are a few ways to qualify to take the Surgical Assistant exam:
- Proof of previous or current Certified Surgical First Assistant certification (if renewing)
- Proof of graduation from an accredited surgical assisting education program
- Be a current Certified Surgical Technologist with the required level of experience and proof of such
For the current Certified Surgical Technologist, this proof will consist of showing current certification and two Experience Verification Forms, properly notarized. These forms have a very specific format that must be strictly adhered to. Experience must include a full two years of employment as a Certified Surgical Technologist within the last four years and a minimum of 350 cases worked. When these requirements are met, the Certified Surgical Technologist may sit for the Surgical Assisting exam. If they are successful, they will enjoy a Surgical Assistant Salary in the very near future.