Traveling Surgical Tech: Education Requirements and Career Info

Working as a traveling surgical tech requires little formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and certification options to see if this is the right career for you.

Traveling surgical techs don't have a specific workplace - they are assigned to various hospitals and surgery centers to perform their varied duties. They need a certificate or associate's degree in surgical technology, and many pursue professional certification.

Essential Information

Surgical technologists assist surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and other medical staff before, during and after surgical procedures. Traveling surgical techs perform these same duties, but do so wherever they are sent instead of at a stationary hospital. Technologists must complete a formal education program in surgical technology leading to a certificate or an associate degree. Most hold voluntary certification in their field.

Required Education Certificate or associate degree in surgical technology
Other Requirements Voluntary certification available through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) or the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 15% for surgical technologists*
Median Salary (2015) $44,330 for surgical technologists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for Traveling Surgical Technologists

Traveling surgical techs are required to complete the same training as stationed technologists, which can be done through one of more than 450 surgical technology programs recognized by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). These programs last anywhere from 9-24 months and typically yield a certificate or an associate degree.

Being admitted to a surgical technology program generally requires a high school diploma, with coursework in chemistry, biology, mathematics and health. Aspiring surgical techs take classes in pharmacology, microbiology, ethics, patient care during surgery, sterile techniques, infection prevention, anatomy and physiology.


Surgical technologists who are professionally certified might find more favor with potential employers. Voluntary certification can be obtained from the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) or the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). There are several paths to these endorsements, including earning 60 or more hours of approved education over four years, participating in a 2-year training program while on the job or accruing seven years of work experience. Traveling techs might have to delay their travels while earning certification and gaining experience, but it could be beneficial in the long run.

Career Information

Traveling health care companies hire certified traveling techs and assign them to various jobs around the country. Expenses such as housing, health care and meals are sometimes covered by these companies or are assumed by the hospitals or doctors with which the tech works.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

Because every surgery requires multiple techs for each surgeon, demand for traveling surgical techs is unlikely to decrease. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment of surgical technologists was expected to grow 15% from 2014 to 2024, which was much faster than average. In 2015, the median annual salary reported for surgical techs was $44,330.

Traveling surgical techs have they same responsibilities as other surgical techs, except they move to different assigned hospitals. Typical education requirements include an associate's degree, and professional certification is favored by many employers. This is a field that is growing much faster than average.

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