Students can complete surgical technology associate's degree programs in about two years, after earning approximately 70 academic credits. Applicants must prove satisfactory completion of basic high school algebra, biology and chemistry courses. In addition, some schools require prospective students to pass fundamental aptitude tests. Immunization records and criminal background checks are also required, as mandated by law.
Associate's Degree in Surgical Technology
During their studies, aspiring surgical technologists learn how to assist surgeons in the operating room. They learn how to transport and prepare patients for surgery and become knowledgeable about the proper techniques for handling surgical instruments. Most associate's programs require students to complete clinical practicals in which they gain hands-on experience in operating room environments.
Surgical technology programs feature both theoretical coursework and hands-on training. Areas of study include:
- Medical ethics
- Microbiology, pathology, physiology
- Patient care
- Surgical procedure
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Because the number of surgeries is expected to boom as the nation's elderly population grows, the employment outlook is good for surgical technologists (also known as operating room technicians). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment will grow by 15% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov).
In 2015, the BLS reported that surgical technologists made a median annual salary of $44,330. The highest ten percent earned $63,410 or more annually, while the lowest ten percent earned $31,410 or less, per BLS data. The BLS also stated that most surgical technicians worked in general medical and surgical hospitals, followed by physicians' offices, outpatient facilities and dentists' offices.
Continuing Education Information
The Associate of Science is the most common degree in surgical technology. A handful of schools, however, offer bachelor's degrees in health studies with a concentration in surgical technology. Other opportunities to advance include specializing in a certain type of surgery or becoming a first assistant.
Associate's degree programs in surgical technology prepare students for careers preparing operating rooms and assisting surgeons during surgeries.