How to Become a Certified Scrub Technician

Research the requirements to become a certified scrub technician. Learn about the job description and duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career in surgical technology.

Should I Become a Certified Scrub Technician?

Scrub technicians, also referred to as surgical technologists, assist surgeons in the operating room. Responsibilities for this position include preparing operating rooms, sterilizing equipment, passing instruments to the surgeons, moving patients and dressing wounds.

Many surgical technologists work in hospitals; as a result, there is a minimal risk of being exposed to infectious diseases. Much of technicians and technologists' time is spent on their feet; surgeries may take hours to complete. Most scrub technicians work full-time and schedules may include evenings, overnights, weekends and on-call hours.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary education necessary for certification
Degree Field Surgical technology
Certification Voluntary certification is available; may be required or preferred by employers
Experience Varies; at least a year of related scrub experience may be required
Key Skills Attention to detail, stamina, dexterity, stress management, ability to use field-specific medical software, familiarity with surgical tools (such as surgical staplers, portable suction units, orthopedic drills and thermal cautery units)
Salary (2014) $43,350 yearly (median for all surgical technologists)

Sources: Job listings from employers (November 2012), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online

Step 1: Complete a Surgical Technology Program

Prospective scrub technicians who plan on obtaining certification should attend a diploma, certificate or associate's degree program accredited by either the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). According to the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST), a 2-year associate's degree program in surgical technology is the preferred credential for entry-level practice. Required courses typically include anatomy and physiology, biology, medical terminology, microbiology, nursing assistant training, operating room techniques and surgical procedures.

Success Tip:

  • Complete a clinical internship. An internship is an opportunity for students to work and learn in a professional environment. Students shadow experienced technicians and begin applying their studies to professional situations.

Step 2: Gain Scrub Experience

Based on job postings from employers in November 2012, employers typically look for applicants with related experience. Prospective scrub technicians can find positions in healthcare environments, such as hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers, where they learn how to prepare medical charts and assist physicians.

Step 3: Become Certified

Although not required, certification as a scrub technician can help increase job prospects. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) is just one of the organizations that offers related certification. Graduates from a program accredited by the CAAHEP or ABHES, as well as scrub professionals from the military, are eligible to sit for the certification exam to attain the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential from NBSTSA.

Success Tip:

  • Keep certification current. Organizations like the NBSTSA require certification renewal. To recertify, scrub techs typically need to complete continuing education credits or retake the certifying examination.

Related to How to Become a Certified Scrub Technician

Search Degrees, Careers, or Schools