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Certified Surgical Technician Education Requirements and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a surgical technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and professional certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Certified surgical technicians work in operating rooms assisting surgeons by preparing equipment, helping position patients, providing needed instruments during the operation and keeping the area sterile. Surgical technicians usually have prior medical training, along with formal training in the surgical technician discipline.

Essential Information

Certified surgical technicians assist surgeons in the operating room environment by preparing surgical equipment and supplies, as well as preparing patients for surgery. Surgical technicians may also be known as scrubs, surgical technologists and operating room technicians. They must complete certificate or associate's degree programs that include classes in topics such as anatomy, microbiology and professional ethics. In-person training in a healthcare facility is also required.

Surgical technicians who pass a competency examination can become Certified Surgical Technologists through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. The National Center for Competency Testing offers the title of Tech in Surgery-Certified to individuals who pass their exam.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree in surgical technology
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*15% for surgical technologists
Median Salary (2015)* $44,330 for surgical technologists

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Certified Surgical Technician Education Requirements

Surgical technicians, also commonly called surgical technologists or operating room technicians, are typically required to have a certificate or associate's degree from a community college or a technical school. Surgical technology programs include a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience at a hospital or medical office. Common courses include medical terminology, human anatomy, pharmacology, surgical technology skills, microbiology, surgical technology theory and professional ethics.

Surgical technology programs also place an emphasis on instrument sterilization, patient preparation and surgical aseptic techniques. Many surgical technician programs are approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and prepare graduates to take the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting certification examination.

Career Information

Working under the supervision of surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and other operating room personnel, certified surgical technicians assist in the preparation and execution of surgical procedures. Surgical technicians assist surgeons by preparing surgical equipment and instruments. They also prepare sterile solutions and linens.

During the actual surgery, technicians supply surgeons with surgical instruments and other supplies. They prep surgery patients by washing and disinfecting the incision sites. They also wheel patients into the operating room and position them on an operating table.

Surgical technicians usually work in hospital operating and delivery rooms. However, there are also employment opportunities with doctors' offices and ambulatory surgical centers. Between 2014 and 2024, employment for surgical technicians is expected to increase by 15%, according to the BLS. The BLS reports median annual earnings for surgical technologists in 2015 of $44,330.

Surgical technicians can attain certification after completing accredited certificate or associate's degree programs, training in a health care facility, and passing the certification exam. According to the BLS, the growth outlook for surgical technicians is 15%, much faster than the overall average growth for all occupations.

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