Surgical Technologist Certification and Diploma Program Information

Jan 02, 2019

Surgical technologist diploma programs teach students to assist surgeons by preparing patients and managing surgical settings before, during and after a procedure.

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Essential Information

Participants of surgical technologist diploma programs can gain hands-on experience in various surgical specialties, including neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, gynecology, urology, and orthopedics. Programs might be completed in approximately 12-18 months. Clinical education typically emphasizes the practical skills necessary for the job. Students may need to complete health and science-related coursework before being admitted to this kind of diploma program. Relevant work experience could also be required.

Voluntary surgical technology certifications may be available to graduates of surgical technology diploma programs.

Surgical Technologist Diploma

Students can learn to identify and handle surgical tools, such as sutures, scalpels, suctions, and clamps. Surgical technology students can learn through coursework, lectures, lab studies, and practical experiences. Students are taught to assess and help resolve operating room complications, sterilize equipment, communicate effectively, and provide supportive and vital assistance. The program might require extensive supervised time in an operating room so that students can observe and apply learned procedures. Courses often cover:

  • Patient care
  • Surgical sterilization
  • Medical ethics and laws
  • Pharmacology and anesthesia
  • Microbiology
  • Surgical procedures

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for surgical technologists were expected to grow 15% from 2014 to 2024 ( Although hospitals were the primary employers of surgical technologists, higher average salaries were often found at home health services, equipment and supply merchant wholesalers and post-secondary education institutions in 2015. The BLS reported that surgical technologists earned a median annual salary of $44,330 as of May 2015.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

Certification is available from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) and the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). In addition to completing an accredited program, candidates generally need work experience or on-the-job training to be eligible to take the certification exams. Maintaining the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential from NBSTSA or NCCT's Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C) designation requires continuing education. Graduates can also continue their formal education to earn an associate or bachelor's degree in surgical technology.

Surgical technologist diploma programs can be helpful to those seeking hands-on experience in several surgical areas, and can lead to national certification. Students can also pursue associate's or bachelor's degrees in the field, with the career outlook in this area looking healthy over the next ten years.

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