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Surgical Technologist


surgical technologist

Median Salary

Years of School
1 – 2

Job Outlook

Surgical technologists assist in surgical operations by arranging equipment, preparing the operating environment, and assisting surgeons and nurses during surgical procedures.

Surgical Tech Salary

The majority of surgical technologists work full-time. In addition, surgical techs, especially those who work in hospitals, can expect to work or be on call during evenings and possibly holidays. Finally, workers in this field should also expect to work more than eight hours per day on occasion according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for surgical techs nears the $40,000 mark. The lowest 10% earned around $28,000. However, the highest 10% of surgical techs exceeded a salary of $57,000. With that being said, these numbers can fluctuate depending upon numerous factors.

Like most professions, surgical techs earn what their knowledge and experience are worth to the employer. In addition, other factors, such as the specific field they work in and where they work can also affect a surgical technologist’s salary. Surgical techs who worked in the outpatient field earned a median salary of just over $41,000, which exceeds the median for surgical techs in general. Those who work as surgical techs in dental offices had the lowest median income, which was a little over $36,000.

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Surgical Tech Job Description

Surgical techs are responsible for ensuring that the operating rooms are ready for procedures.
They do not help with the surgical procedure, but they do have to ensure everything is ready to go as planned before the surgery begins. This means that supplies need to be properly stocked, so surgeons do not have to look for the tools they need when they need them.

Surgical techs will also be responsible for helping nurses and surgeons with various tasks, such as finding tools, during surgical procedures. These techs also work to ensure that the patients are ready for the surgery to begin, which can include sterilization.

Surgical techs should enjoy working with their hands, be able to stand for extended periods of time, demonstrate the ability to stay calm at all times and have an eye for detail. If a surgical tech fails to meet these criteria, the surgical procedures can go wrong before they even begin.

Surgical Tech Duties

  • Operating Room and Patient Preparation
  • Sanitize Supplies and Other Equipment
  • Have tools ready for surgeon upon immediate request

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How To Become A Surgical Tech

Surgical techs should take as many science-related courses as possible in high school to prepare them for their surgical tech courses upon graduation. Surgical techs will need either an associate’s degree in the field or the equivalent post-secondary certification.

Surgical Tech Education Requirements

Most community colleges as well as vocational institutions offer a surgical tech program. This will allow students to graduate in a two years or less. During these courses, students can expect to take quite a few science and health-related courses and learn medical terminology that pertains to this field.

Useful Science Courses to Take in High School

  • Anatomy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Health
  • Physiology

Sample Courses for Surgical Tech Program

  • Human Physiology and Anatomy
  • Injury Treatment
  • Introduction to Surgical Tech
  • Medical Terminology
  • Microbiology- General and Pathogenic
  • Patient Care

Potential students who want to know if the institution they are planning to attend is properly accredited should refer to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education programs, which is also known as the CAAHEP.

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Surgical Tech Certification & Licensing

Surgical technologists will also want to receive the proper certifications in order to maximize their career opportunities and salary. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting certifies graduates as Certified Surgical Techs.

All students who graduate from a CAHEEP institution will receive this certification because it is a requirement to graduate. The National certification exam consists of 175 questions over field terminology, fundamental sciences and equipment. To maintain the certification, certified surgical techs will need to take 60 hours of continuing education per four years of service or retake the exam every four years, both of which are offered by the Association of Surgical Techs.

Surgical techs can also receive the title of Certified Operating Room and Surgical Technician, which is sometimes abbreviated as CORST, through the National Healthcareer Assocation. To earn this certification, one must pass the 200 question CORST exam that covers the items on the CST exam as well as legalities and regulations associated with the surgical industry.

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Surgical Tech Job Outlook

The job outlook for surgical techs is promising. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, nearly 94,000 people were employed in this industry. By the year 2020, the number of surgical tech employees is estimated to increase to over 110,000. This is a 19% increase, which is noted as being about the average rate of growth.

However, it should also be noted that the average growth rating, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics is 10 to 19%, so their expected job growth for surgical techs is just one percent away from being considered above average. The reason for the expected growth is the baby boomer generation aging, which will likely result in more patients requiring surgery as a result of their aging health.

People should also keep in mind that the job growth for other industries may actually decrease, which makes this field an even better career choice. The growth predictions are all estimates, and some specific certifications of surgical techs are expected to beat this prediction and others may fall a little short.

Surgical Tech Job Growth for 2010-2020 by Field

  • Health Technologists and Technicians- 26% (above the predicted growth)
  • Surgical Techs- 19% (average growth; basic level surgical techs without extra certifications)

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Additional Links & Resources

People who are interested in a career as a surgical tech can find additional information on the Internet. The certification bodies associated with this field each have their own websites.

The Association of Surgical Techs:

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs- Allows people to see what institutions offer different certifications:

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting

National Healthcareer Association- More-advanced surgical tech certification:

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