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What Does a Surgical Nurse Earn?

Career News August 8, 2013

Being a nurse in an operating room is exciting, but surgical nurse salary is also important. After all, a challenging job isn’t too fun if you end up constantly having to worry about bills.

Factors that Help Determine Surgical Nurse Salary


As with any job, the actual salary earned depends on many factors. The position’s general geographical location is one of these things. In general, you will make more money if you’re in a well-to-do area with high-end medical facilities. Some areas, like New York City and parts of California also tend to pay more for every job. The downside with these areas is that expenses are usually high as well. It may be better to take a job in an area that doesn’t seem to pay as much because this will also give you access to lower costs of living.


Professional experience also plays a large factor in determining one’s salary. Someone who has just earned the minimum credentials will almost always earn less than a person with 10 or 20 years of experience.

Negotiating Skills

At some facilities, you may be able to negotiate your salary. In these cases, your skill at doing so can be a large factor in the size of your paycheck. At other hospitals, the salary may be set by a contract with a nurses’ union or some other standard schedule. This eliminates the need to negotiate, but if you don’t like the pay in these cases, your only option is to look elsewhere.

What is the Average Surgical Nurse Salary?

According to, the average pay for a surgical nurse – specifically, a surgical first assistant who is also a staff registered nurse (RN) is $82,636 annually. The site determined this average from thousands of surveys sent to facilities of all sizes. In some facilities, there may be other levels of surgical nurses. In this case, the salary will be higher or lower depending on the rank and its requirements.

What Credentials and Experience are required to be a Surgical Nurse?

For a surgical first assistant, the requirements are a bit higher than those for a non-surgical RN. Surprisingly, an associate’s degree can be all that is required when it comes to college education. On top of that, you will need to be certified as a registered nurse first assistant and have certification in perioperative nursing. These requirements give rise to the initials CRNFA and CNOR, respectively. Finally, most facilities will require you to have two years of operating room experience.

Once hired, a surgical nurse will have to perform a variety of duties. One of the most notable is the actual performance of surgical procedures. These operations are done under the supervision of a surgeon. Surgical nurses will also need to be familiar with procedures and terms associated with the specialty of the surgeons they work under.

Surgical nursing can be a truly challenging and rewarding job. With an average salary of over $82,000 annually, it should also provide a comfortable lifestyle for those who choose to take it up.

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