Surgical nurse standing folding arms

A surgical nurse, also known as a Perioperative Nurse, is a Registered Nurse with specialized training in surgical care. Their primary role is to assist the surgeon during procedures by passing them surgical instruments and ensuring the operating site is always safe and sterile.

Surgical nurses meet with patients before and after procedures which is crucial for every surgical procedure. 

Because the surgeon must maintain sharp focus, they can't stop their procedure to hand select the instruments and equipment they need or monitor a patient's vitals while operating. The surgical nurse is by their side to provide invaluable assistance. 

According to our research, compiled by state averages from Zippia.com, the national median salary for a surgical nurse is $76,757.41.

Is it hard to become a surgical nurse?

Surgical nurses must undergo additional training before assisting in the OR. They must first earn their RN, then pass an exam to earn their CNOR certification. Because they have to memorize a lot of surgical instruments and procedures, the job can provide more challenges on top of regular nursing.

Surgical nurse salaries in the United States

How much does a surgical nurse make a year?

We found that the average surgical nurse makes $76,757.41 per year, based on data from Zippia.com in February 2022. As of July 2022, Zippia projects the average salary to be $73,309 and the average surgical nurse starting salary to be $51,000.

Considering our average, a surgical nurse can expect to make around $6396 per month before taxes and deductions.

How much does a surgical nurse make an hour?

The average hourly wage for a surgical nurse is $36.90 per hour. Zippia.com reports average hourly pay of $35.24. It would be uncommon for a Perioperative Nurse to earn anything under $29 an hour in any state.

Surgical nurse salary by state

Discover how much surgical nurses make in your state and how your area compares to other regions of the United

State

Hourly median wage

Annual median wage

Compared To National Average

Alabama

$31.85

$66,242.00

-14%

Alaska

$34.67

$72,115.00

-6%

Arizona

$34.71

$72,191.00

-6%

Arkansas

$33.51

$69,700.00

-9%

California

$49.38

$102,711.00

34%

Colorado

$36.55

$76,018.00

-1%

Connecticut

$39.90

$82,985.00

8%

Delaware

$38.17

$79,400.00

3%

District of Columbia

$44.90

$93,395.00

22%

Florida

$33.02

$68,682.00

-11%

Georgia

$36.30

$75,495.00

-2%

Hawaii

$48.10

$100,043.00

30%

Idaho

$31.64

$65,819.00

-14%

Illinois

$37.71

$78,435.00

2%

Indiana

$32.12

$66,812.00

-13%

Iowa

$31.07

$64,634.00

-16%

Kansas

$34.18

$71,101.00

-7%

Kentucky

$34.29

$71,316.00

-7%

Louisiana

$32.83

$68,278.00

-11%

Maine

$36.45

$75,813.00

-1%

Maryland

$40.12

$83,443.00

9%

Massachusetts

$41.22

$85,735.00

12%

Michigan

$38.85

$80,809.00

5%

Minnesota

$38.59

$80,272.00

5%

Mississippi

$28.30

$58,857.00

-23%

Missouri

$32.89

$68,408.00

-11%

Montana

$34.54

$71,840.00

-6%

Nebraska

$31.04

$64,564.00

-16%

Nevada

$37.13

$77,239.00

1%

New Hampshire

$36.92

$76,801.00

0%

New Jersey

$42.29

$87,957.00

15%

New Mexico

$34.03

$70,782.00

-8%

New York

$43.50

$90,471.00

18%

North Carolina

$36.88

$76,713.00

0%

North Dakota

$33.24

$69,141.00

-10%

Ohio

$37.64

$78,297.00

2%

Oklahoma

$34.64

$72,050.00

-6%

Oregon

$40.96

$85,190.00

11%

Pennsylvania

$37.35

$77,697.00

1%

Rhode Island

$54.91

$114,222.00

49%

South Carolina

$34.65

$72,067.00

-6%

South Dakota

$34.52

$71,808.00

-6%

Tennessee

$35.08

$72,970.00

-5%

Texas

$35.30

$73,430.00

-4%

Utah

$29.66

$61,692.00

-20%

Vermont

$39.96

$83,126.00

8%

Virginia

$38.31

$79,687.00

4%

Washington

$40.28

$83,784.00

9%

West Virginia

$33.83

$70,376.00

-8%

Wisconsin

$38.24

$79,548.00

4%

Wyoming

$35.80

$74,467.00

-3%

National Average

$36.90

$76,757.41

Factors that affect how much a surgical nurse makes

Several factors can affect your potential salary as a surgical nurse, including:

1) Education and experience level

Surgical nurses need at least a bachelor's degree, a valid RN license, and a CNOR certification. Without certification, you will not be able to work in specific surgical settings, and you'll likely receive a lower salary than a nurse with this credential.

2) Where you work

Surgical nurses can earn different salaries depending on their work environment. For example, working in a surgical or trauma hospital may earn you more than working in an outpatient surgical center. 

The significant part about being a surgical nurse is that you can tailor your workplace to suit your preferences. For example, if you're passionate about cardiology, you could assist heart surgeons in hospitals. On the other hand, if you love plastic surgery, you could work with a plastic surgeon who performs in-patient and outpatient procedures.

3) Location

Perioperative Nurses can earn differently based on their state. Even two surgical nurses with the same experience and education may have different pay grades based on their geographic region.

With enough experience, you could also consider becoming a traveling surgical nurse. Travel Nurses with surgical expertise are highly valued, earning $1,500 to over $5,000 a week depending on their assignment.

4) Specialty

If you specialize in surgical nursing, you can earn your CNOR certification. The CNOR stands for "Certified Nurse Operating Room." Interestingly, Zippia reports salaries for surgical nurses and CNOR Perioperative Nurses separately. 

Their data from August 2022 shows that the average CNOR earns $78,287 a year, which is $1,529.59 more than a surgical nurse's salary.

How quickly can you become a surgical nurse and start earning?

It takes four years to complete a BSN program through an accredited nursing school. Once you've become an RN by passing the NCLEX, you can start looking for jobs in hospitals or outpatient surgical centers. 

To earn your CNOR, you need at least two years of experience in a surgical setting. Expect to spend four to six years meeting all the education and experience requirements to become a certified surgical nurse.

Surgical nurse salary vs. other nursing professions

If you're curious about how your earnings may compare to other nursing professionals, here is a comparison to other professions similar to surgical nursing.

  • Nurse Practitioner: $116,438.80

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA): $140,357.71

  • ICU Nurse: $84,281.06

  • Scrub Nurse: $73,366.94

Surgical nurse salary FAQs

Am I being paid fairly as a surgical nurse?

The easiest way to tell if you're being paid fairly as a surgical nurse is to consider how many hours you work per week and how your wage reflects the national average. If you work more than 40 hours a week, you are legally entitled to overtime pay, which is your base hourly rate plus a half.

Looking at your state's average can also help you determine fairness. For example, if you discover nurses in your state earn more than you, it's a good idea to talk to your employer. 

Remember to be your advocate in nursing. If you are concerned about your salary or feel you should be paid more, consider negotiating your current compensation package.

Are surgical nurses paid mostly hourly or annually?

Most surgical nurses are paid hourly, though some may be given annual salaries in outpatient surgical centers. Because surgeries tend to vary by length and are scheduled at different times, it's more common to receive hourly pay as a surgical nurse.

You will likely be given hourly pay if you are an entry-level nurse. However, more advanced nurses, such as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners, are offered salaries.

Do surgical nurses get paid overtime?

Yes, surgical nurses are entitled to overtime like any other nursing professional. You should receive pay-and-a-half for your services if you work more than 40 hours a week. In addition, you might receive overtime pay on holidays.

Keep in mind that overtime is not legally enforceable except in some situations. For example, an employer can require you to work overtime if you're involved in a surgical procedure, and your shift ends during it. You will have to work until the procedure ends.

In critical care settings, nurses can also be mandated to work overtime until they are relieved by another nurse.

How many hours do surgical nurses work?

Surgical nurses tend to work longer shifts than the average RN. For example, a Registered Nurse might work 8 to 12 hours, while surgical nurses usually work 13 to 14-hour shifts. Being a surgical nurse full-time can be draining, so you should consider how this work schedule could impact your quality of life and your family.

Do surgical nurses get time off?

Like other nurses, surgical nurses usually work three shifts weekly and get a 4-day weekend. Many nurses also get their employers' PTO, vacation leave, and sick pay. Everyone's benefits package differs, so openness and negotiation are essential.

On average, if you work in a hospital, expect to earn around 12 paid days off annually.

Do surgical nurses get paid more privately or in hospitals?

Surgical nurses can work in outpatient healthcare or surgical hospitals. Their pay will vary by organization and employer. However, you'll likely find the most job opportunity in hospitals throughout your state and country. 

What states pay surgical nurses the most per hour?

Here are the top 5 states with the highest salaries

Location

Average Mean Hourly Pay

Average Mean Annual Salary

Rhode Island

$54.91

$114,222

California

$49.38

$102,711

Hawaii

$48.10

$100,043

District of Columbia

$44.90

$93,395

New York

$43.50

$90,471

Can you live off a surgical nurse's salary in the US?

Everyone's cost of living differs, so financial security will vary based on your circumstances. That being said, the average surgical nurse's salary is 42% higher than the median annual salary of $49,968 in 2022. This figure comes from the July 2022 Usual Weekly Earnings and Wage of Salary Workers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The cost of living index can also help you understand how comfortably you could live off a mental health nurse’s salary in your state. Metropolitan areas have higher living costs overall, but they also tend to present greater job opportunities.

Position

State

costIndex

Position

State

Median Avg Nursing Salary

1

Hawaii

193.3

1

California

$84,997.78

2

New York

148.2

2

Washington

$80,067.11

3

California

142.2

3

Oregon

$79,598.00

4

Massachusetts

135

4

Alaska

$77,079.00

5

Oregon

130.1

5

Connecticut

$76,783.89

6

Alaska

127.1

6

Massachusetts

$75,788.44

7

Maryland

124

7

New York

$75,587.89

8

Connecticut

121.6

8

New Jersey

$75,395.67

9

Rhode Island

117.2

9

District of Columbia

$72,408.78

10

Vermont

117

10

Rhode Island

$72,072.78

11

New Jersey

115.2

11

New Hampshire

$70,314.33

12

Maine

115

12

North Dakota

$69,891.22

13

Washington

111.6

13

Minnesota

$69,718.67

14

New Hampshire

109.9

14

Nevada

$69,611.00

15

Delaware

107.9

15

Maryland

$69,379.89

16

Nevada

106.3

16

Michigan

$69,267.89

17

Colorado

105.3

17

Hawaii

$68,994.22

18

Arizona

103.2

18

Pennsylvania

$68,947.00

19

Pennsylvania

102.5

19

Vermont

$68,873.00

20

Idaho

102.1

20

Maine

$67,826.33

21

Virginia

101.8

21

Arizona

$67,388.56

22

South Dakota

101

22

Wisconsin

$67,343.78

23

Montana

100.7

23

Delaware

$67,080.67

24

Florida

100.3

24

Colorado

$66,904.67

25

Minnesota

100

25

Illinois

$66,509.56

26

Utah

99

26

Utah

$66,147.78

27

North Dakota

98.2

27

New Mexico

$65,823.22

28

Wisconsin

96.4

28

Texas

$64,157.00

29

North Carolina

95.7

29

Ohio

$64,145.00

30

Illinois

94.3

30

Wyoming

$62,866.33

31

Wyoming

94.3

31

Idaho

$62,811.56

32

Nebraska

93.7

32

Iowa

$62,781.56

33

South Carolina

93.6

33

North Carolina

$62,711.56

34

Kentucky

93.1

34

Indiana

$62,346.56

35

Louisiana

93

35

Montana

$62,307.22

36

Texas

92.1

36

Kentucky

$61,509.67

37

Michigan

91.3

37

Georgia

$61,484.67

38

Ohio

91.3

38

Oklahoma

$61,016.78

39

New Mexico

91

39

Mississippi

$60,965.22

40

Arkansas

90.9

40

West Virginia

$60,443.89

41

Indiana

90.6

41

Missouri

$60,281.67

42

West Virginia

90.5

42

Kansas

$59,949.00

43

Iowa

89.9

43

South Dakota

$59,887.56

44

Missouri

89.8

44

Nebraska

$59,798.11

45

Tennessee

89

45

Florida

$59,653.67

46

Georgia

88.8

46

Arkansas

$58,544.11

47

Alabama

87.9

47

South Carolina

$58,357.33

48

Oklahoma

87.9

48

Louisiana

$58,290.56

49

Kansas

86.5

49

Tennessee

$57,799.00

50

Mississippi

83.3

50

Virginia

$57,044.25

A note about our data. We use the median of the data gathered from The BLS at data.bls.gov and other salary data sources such as Salary.com, Indeed.com, and Zippia.com. We believe that this is the best average to follow, rather than the mean or mode. The mean will find the average of all salaries in each state; the mode will favor the most frequently reported salaries. However, the median will find the middle. All data in this report will favor the middle salary from all ranges, which means 50% will fall below and 50% will be above the salary data reported below. On another note, we have removed data from Puerto Rico, Guam, and The Virgin Islands from the data we have sourced as we have focused on the 50 US States plus The District Of Colombia.

Registerd Nurse Median Salary