Surgical technologists prepare the operating room and arrange equipment in order to assist the surgeon during a medical procedure. To become a surgical technologist, one must earn a certificate or associate's degree in surgical technology. The following article details the educational requirements and job outlook for a surgical technologist.
Surgical technicians, commonly referred to as surgical technologists or operating room (OR) technicians, work alongside surgeons, surgical assistants, nurses and anesthesiologists during medical procedures. Individuals must complete a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree program in the field to become surgical technologists; optional certification is also available.
|Required Education||Certificate or associate's degree in surgical technology|
|Other Requirements||Voluntary certification available through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting and the National Center for Competency Testing|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||15% for surgical technologists*|
|Average Salary (2015)||$45,940 for surgical technologists*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description of a Surgical Technician
Surgical technicians assist surgeons and other medical professionals in hospital operating rooms and similar environments. Chiefly, they prepare patients, rooms and equipment for pending surgical procedures. They also assist during those procedures as part of a team of operating room professionals.
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In preparing operating rooms, surgical technicians ensure that all of the equipment needed for the procedure is properly disinfected and assembled. They also check that the equipment is in working order. They place sterile solutions in areas where they can be easily reached by doctors.
To prepare patients for surgery, surgical technicians may clean, shave and disinfect the areas of a patient's body that will be operated on. They then move patients to the OR and position them on the operating table, using sterile surgical drapes to cover them. Monitoring patients' vital signs and observing their status is another job responsibility of a surgical technician.
During surgery, surgical technicians pass sterile surgical equipment, such as scalpels and forceps, to surgeons. They also might cut sutures, keep track of items like sponges and needles, operate lights and help dress a patient's wounds. Additionally, surgical techs are sometimes responsible for the preparation and disposal of lab specimens.
After surgery, a surgical technician generally transports a patient back to his or her room. He or she then returns to the OR to clean and prep for the next surgery.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts a 15% increase in the employment of surgical technologists from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). This projected increase was partially attributed to a growing elderly population that is expected to require more surgical procedures in the coming years.
The average annual salary for surgical technologists was $45,940 in May 2015, according to BLS figures. Most of the surgical tech workforce found employment in general medical and surgical hospitals. Surgical technologists working for home health care services earned the highest average salary, at $58,960 a year.
Surgical technologists prepare the patient for procedures and make sure equipment is properly arranged and sterilized, and hold instruments or set up equipment as necessary while the surgery is underway. Jobs for surgical technologists are expected to increase at a faster than average rate through 2024, and salaries averaged nearly $46,000 in 2015.