Online Surgical Technologist Training Programs

Surgical technologists are individuals who provide medical services in the surgery and operating room.

Also called operating room technician, this is a job that involves working with surgeons, physicians, and nurses.

General surgeons and specialists alike require the use of someone capable of handling the sights and smells of an operating room.

It can be very hairy, even quite literally at times, which is why you really want to consider the full spectrum of this career before starting a program.

Learn all there is to know about online surgical technologist training and certification programs in the US.

What Courses Are in an Online Surgical Technologist Program?

In surgical technologist training online, the basic courses start with microbiology, anatomy, and physiology covering medical terminology.

Students then proceed to clinical experience for hands-on work in the medical setting.

Work experience in person is critical to the success of a student in a surgical technologist program.

This may be a requirement for certification or for employment.

Note, that online coursework cannot include in-person work experience.

This area of training for surgical technologists must be completed in person.

Labs for surgical case management and basic surgical procedures are included in surgical technology programs.

Courses also include advanced surgical procedures to the point where students feel comfortable operating with a medical team in an operating room in the real world.

Sterile techniques and pre-op patient care are also important courses that students should take when on an online surgical technologist program.

Students also specialize in concentration while training as surgical technologists.

Here is where courses will change based on the specialized training the student selects.

These areas of specialization include wound preparation, pharmacology, anesthesia, and sterilization.

Surgical technologists can also specialize in a type of surgery, such as organ transplantation, heart surgery, plastic surgery, or neurosurgery.

Can You Earn a Surgical Technologist Certification Completely Online?

You cannot completely earn a surgical technologist certificate online.

You are able to do the training and sit for boards, which is the process of passing an organization-accredited certification exam either in person or online.

However, one major component of the surgical tech certification involves work experience.

Each board exam requires students to have a minimum amount of work experience that must be verified in order to be fully certified.

This varies according to different organizations and their requirements for sitting for board exams and certifications.

Therefore, individuals can train to become surgical technologists online.

Also, it is expected that surgical technicians sit for board exams in remote and online settings.

However, there must be in-person training involved with work experience documented by the surgical tech before they can receive certification, even after sitting for board exams.

So, there is a component of becoming a surgical technologist that requires in-person training that is not possible online.

How Long Does it Take to Earn a Surgical Technologist Certification Online?

The time frame for online certification as a surgical technologist varies.

You can train in as few as 18 weeks online at MedCerts, but most colleges require training for 12 months to earn a certificate or a diploma.

For a degree, students would need to attend a 24-month program at a college or university.

This would result in an associate’s degree and involve specialized training with an internship or clinical practice.

How Much Does an Online Surgical Technologist Certification Cost?

The primary reason why students attend online training for surgical technologist certification is for convenience.

It is easier to go to training online than visit a classroom in person.

For this particular medical training, the coursework must be hybrid at a minimum with some in-person coursework.

Colleges offering hybrid training with online courses and in-person surgical cases charge anywhere from $75 to $400 a credit hour for this type of certificate and degree program.

The cost for traditional collegiate-based surgical training leading to a surgical technologist certificate is $5,000 to $25,000.

Benefits of Online Surgical Technologist Training Programs

Reduce Time Spent on Campus

If you have children at home, a full-time job, or live far from campus, time at home is far more valuable to you.

It helps to have at least one-third of surgical technologist training available online for a program.

Spend less time sitting in traffic and trying to find a good seat for a lecture, and more time studying on your computer at home in a quiet space.

Improve Ability to Learn

Many people learn in various ways, such as visually or by reading, or audibly.

When you are in an online setting, you can sort of control these abilities.

For example, videos typically have links to transcripts you can read or have read aloud to you on your computer or mobile device.

The use of web-based learning modules also lets you pause and think about concepts, or take breaks as you need to, at your learning speed.

Jumpstart a Career in Surgical Technology

If you want to get a headstart on a career in surgical technology, go for an online program–or at least a hybrid program.

Be ready to get into the operating room and right to work, though, because that is the fast-paced nature of these online and hybrid programs.

Students who need to spend less time in the classroom and more time working can do so more easily with online training modules.

Go High Tech With Learning

Programs with high-tech components tend to attract a certain type of student, the ones who are bored with traditional classroom settings.

If you are one of those types of individuals, learning through a hybrid platform is the optimal solution.

You get to use technology to engage with learning concepts and other learners.

This is even more important for those who are working in the field of surgical technology.

Drawbacks of Online Surgical Technologist Training Programs

Unable to Find Work Training

Students in 100 percent online surgical technologist training programs are not typically lined up for work experience.

This is important for certification and board exams, as well as for resumes.

If you want a program to help you find workplace training as a student in surgical technology, the online programs may not be the right choice.

Eliminating Distractions is Difficult

For students who struggle with distractions when learning, the use of online training is not the best solution.

Online classes require students to use the internet.

Therefore, if the individual cannot stay away from social media or computer gaming while online, they may struggle with taking this type of training in that format.

Lack of Hands-on Learning Materials

Do you need a book in your hands to learn from in a classroom setting?

The online format is going to be a struggle, then, because there will technically be no textbooks for you to read.

Some students from the traditional classroom setting may find it different, if not problematic, to be without a study guide to highlight and mark up.

No Strict Time to Learn

Students who struggle with 8 am classes appreciate the freedom and flexibility of online classes that can start at whatever time.

However, those same individuals are also more likely to miss online classes, too.

If you are someone who wants a set schedule and struggles to put yourself on a personal time clock, online classes in surgical tech will be problematic.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Surgical Technologist Training Programs – Summary Table

Benefits of Online Surgical Technologist Training ProgramsDrawbacks of Online Surgical Technologist Training Programs
Reduce Time Spent on CampusUnable to Find Work Training
Improve Ability to LearnEliminating Distractions is Difficult
Jumpstart a Career in Surgical TechnologyLack of Hands-on Learning Materials
Go High Tech With LearningNo Strict Time to Learn

Types of Surgical Technologist Certifications


Consider the National Center for Competency Testing which offers the Tech in Surgery – Certified (TS-C) NCCT certification.

To receive this certification, surgical technologist hopefuls must pass the TS-C exam.

In order to pass this exam, individuals must have at least three years of work experience in person, including at least 50 scrubs for general surgeries and 20 scrubs in orthopedic surgeries, plus 55 scrubs in two other elected skills areas.

This work experience must be documented according to several critical skills, and the performance competency has to be proven through photocopied documentation or information provided by the employer.

National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting Certified Surgical Technologist (CST)

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) board exam leads to the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) certification.

This is applicable to students interested in employment in surgical technology.

The exam is provided both online and in-person at education and testing centers, depending on the person applying.

As a nationally recognized exam, the NBSTSA CST exam costs $190 to $290 depending on membership status with the NBSTSA.

You must be a graduate of an ABHES or CAAHEP accredited program in surgical technology to be eligible.

4 Self-Study Tips for Surgical Technologist Online Students

Find a Quiet Room

To take an online class requires having tunnel vision in some respects.

As an online student, you are learning everything through a computer terminal.

This requires focusing on the computer, and that can be difficult when there are distractions around.

Rather than staying in bed while trying to take an online surgical technologist course, find a quiet office space.

Make it a room with a hard surface and a dedicated workplace and seating arrangement.

This will make it a lot easier to go and study whenever the time arises.

Set a Schedule

Even though you can study whenever you want in an online course for surgical technologists, this is not a good idea.

Set a schedule and keep with the time frames that you set for studying the material and reviewing information.

Otherwise, you will never find the time to learn how to be a surgical technologist.

Find time in your already busy schedule to attend online classes and to read and study course materials and study guides.

This way, even though you are working online and most likely from the comfort of your home, you will stay on track and on target with taking the board exams for certification.

Make a Goal for Taking Boards

Your goal for the surgical technologist course is to prepare for the certification exams allotted by board organizations.

These include national boards, such as the TS-C exam for surgical technologists, and any other certification exams you might be taking.

The process is to pass a board exam so you obtain certification as a surgical tech.

You will most likely be required to provide proof of certification once you begin applying for jobs as a surgical technologist.

Find a Good Work Experience Opportunity

Start applying to work experience programs for surgical technologists as soon as you consider applying to surgical tech training.

You most likely will need to have a position in place for yourself for the hands-on component of certification.

To get experience in the operating room, find training programs that will match you with in-person opportunities. You may also need to contact local hospitals to find out how to apply to applicable training programs.

Try outpatient centers and doctors’ offices as well, when you search for a work experience position.


Going through online surgical technologist training is convenient and affordable for students.

In addition, hybrid training at colleges allows surgical technologist hopefuls to attend some coursework online.

In-person work experience is required to complete most training certification programs and to be eligible to sit for at least one of the surgical technologist certification exams.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to be a surgical tech?

There are six-week surgical tech programs and online courses, as well as 12-month surgical tech programs.

Expect to spend between one and 12 months training as a surgical technician online.

What tasks are surgical technologists responsible for in the workplace?

Surgical techs assist in the surgical room.

This includes removing or cutting surgical stitches, but not applying stitches or sutures.

Why are surgical technologists called scrubs?

Along with wearing a uniform that is called a scrub, these are the first professionals in a surgical room to scrub.

After this, surgical technologists scrub and sanitize all the instruments and devices used in surgery.

What are the requirements for becoming a paid surgical technician in the US?

In order to become a paid surgical technician in the US, you must have a postsecondary nondegree award.

This entry-level of education includes certificate and diploma programs that do not require two years of training, i.e., for an associate degree.

However, there are also training programs resulting in a degree in surgical technology, such as an associate degree, along with specialized training.

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