Best Surgical Tech Associate Degree Programs

Mar 08, 2021

Essential Information

A 2-year surgical technology program helps students learn to operate surgical equipment safely and effectively, and to understand the ethical behavior and standards associated with working in the medical health field. Hands-on clinical sessions allow them to gain supervised experience in the field. After graduation, surgical techs may qualify for professional certification, which can be helpful for career advancement.

Associate's Degree in Surgical Technology

Courses introduce the common elements of surgical procedures and introduce students to human health and anatomy. Prospective surgical techs also learn the importance of their role within a hospital among other health professionals. Besides healthcare protocols, this program focuses on human anatomy, nutrition, pharmacology, and sociology. Communication between surgical techs and supervisory staff or patients is also emphasized. Courses in math and English composition are usually required as well. Coursework may cover:

  • Physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Pathology
  • Diseases
  • Instrumentation
  • Specialty procedures

Popular Career Options

For the most part, students who enroll in an associate's degree program in this field are preparing to become surgical technologists upon graduation. Surgical technologists can find work in clinics, surgical centers, physicians' offices, and hospitals. They should expect to work long hours on their feet and have work schedules that involve day, evening, weekend, and holiday shifts.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of surgical technologists was expected to grow 9% - faster than average - from 2018-2028. Median annual earnings of surgical technologists were $48,300 in May 2019. The best-paying jobs are often acquired by certified surgical techs.


Professional certification of surgical technologists is voluntary, but also highly recommended for those looking for salary and career advancement. One option is offered by the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist and can be achieved by those who have graduated from an associate's degree program. Certification can also be gained through the National Center for Competency Testing, which requires candidates to complete an accredited training program, a 2-year hospital training program, or seven years of experience in the field. Both certifications must be renewed.

An associate's degree program in surgical technology covers standard operating room procedures, along with surgical equipment and critical safety measures. Graduates can pursue careers as surgical technologists - a field that's expected to see above-average employment growth during the 2018-2028 decade. Graduates may also pursue voluntary certification, which can enhance job prospects.

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