How to Become a Surgical Tech in California

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For those looking to enter the medical field with lower educational requirements and fast entry into the workforce while helping others, becoming a Surgical Tech in California may be an excellent career option.

As demand in the field continues to increase, the need for Techs across various functions in hospitals, doctors’ offices, specialty centers, and other medical facilities is rapidly increasing.

The population in California continues to grow, so Surgical Techs are needed now more than ever.

To become a Surgical Tech, a minimum of a diploma degree is required, which takes around one year of full-time study.

Keep reading to learn more about how to become a Surgical Tech in California!

Licensing Requirements to Become a Surgical Tech in California

Surgical Tech’s are required to have some type of training with the minimum being a diploma.

Others opt for a certificate or an associate degree.

The quickest path is the diploma, which takes a few months to complete, and the associate degree is around two years.

During the program, students will learn about preventing and controlling infections, how to set up and maintain technical equipment, sterilization techniques, safety protocols, and patient care.

Most programs are divided into classroom lectures and hands-on clinical experience.

Once the program is complete, students can work towards becoming certified, although this is not a requirement in California.

However, earning a certification will help further your career, especially since many employers require this achievement.

The Certified Surgical Technologist certification is offered by the NBSTSA (National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting) organization.

Once you pass the exam, you can use the CST designation on your resume.

5 Surgical Tech Schools in California

Berkeley CollegeBerkeley College

Berkeley College offers a Surgical Technology Associate in Applied Science degree, which prepares students to be helpful members of a surgical team.

Students will learn how to prepare patients in operating rooms, pass instruments during procedures, sterilization, monitoring operating room conditions, anatomy, biology, and required core classes like English and math.

Berkeley College’s associate degree program is only offered at the Woodland Park location and the program requires a time commitment of two years of full-time study.

The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

Carrington CollegeCarrington College

Carrington College offers an associate degree program in Surgical Technology.

The curriculum includes basic surgical procedures, surgical case management, advanced surgical procedures, introduction to surgical technology, anatomy, medical terminology, and core classes.

The program is comprised of lectures and clinical work to practice applied knowledge.

The Carrington College associate program requires a time commitment of two years of full-time study.

Las Positas CollegeLas Positas College

Las Positas College offers a certificate and an associate degree program in Surgical Technology.

The certificate programs require around a one-year commitment while the associate program lasts two years, with full-time study.

Classes include medical terminology, surgical patient care concepts, anatomy, safety, and equipment instruction.

The associate degree expands on these concepts by adding core classes like biology and English, but also Surgical Tech topics like surgical specialties, and professional communications.

The certificate program and associate degree programs cost $1,134 for in-state students and $7,734 for out-of-state students.

Mira Costa CollegeMira Costa College

Situated in Oceanside, Mira Costa College offers a certificate program in Surgical Technology that prepares students for the national certification exam.

The curriculum includes a clinical element with lectures covering body systems, medical terminology, surgical procedures, sterilization, safety, and equipment maintenance.

The cost of Mira Costa’s Surgical Technology program is $1,336 per year for in-state students and $6,678 per year for those coming from out-of-state, and the certificate program takes one year of full-time study.

Skyline CollegeSkyline College

Located in San Bruno, Skyline College has a tiny program, accepting only 20 students per year into their Surgical Tech associate degree program, with five students on the waiting list.

This is intentional to ensure students have the best learning environment possible with an excellent student-to-instructor ratio.

Students will learn the basics of being a Surgical Tech, but the program also includes required core classes like math, science, and English.

The program lasts for two years and has a tuition of $1,461 per year for in-state students and $8,241 for out-of-state students

Surgical Technician Schools in California – Summary Table

Top 5 Schools in California

School NameAddress
Berkeley College2050 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704, United States
Carrington College8909 Folsom Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95826, United States
Las Positas College3000 Campus Hill Dr, Livermore, CA 94551, United States
Mira Costa College1 Barnard Dr, Oceanside, CA 92056, United States
Skyline College3300 College Dr, San Bruno, CA 94066, United States


The medical U.S. annual salary for a Surgical Tech is $52,300, with pay ranging from $42,175 to $62,807.

In comparison, California has a medical annual salary of $58,300 and a pay range of $47,028 to $69,954.

Annual Salary Range:

Average Salary of Surgical Technologists in California

City NameSalary
Los Angeles$58,300
San Diego$56,200
San Jose$65,600
San Francisco$65,400
Long Beach$57,800
Santa Ana$57,900
* Salary information last updated 2024

Regional Salary in California

RegionEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Bakersfield, CA240$64,120$30.83$81,790$48,080
El Centro, CA50$54,380$26.15$77,520$32,600
Fresno, CA290$69,480$33.41$96,700$46,130
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA3,630$68,580$32.97$85,300$42,840
Modesto, CA190$74,580$35.86$107,650$47,930
Napa, CA40$82,840$39.83$120,130$51,650
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA220$65,000$31.25$81,600$48,770
Redding, CA70$71,470$34.36$81,770$48,230
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA1,040$62,570$30.08$81,620$39,920
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA610$81,090$38.99$109,090$50,580
Salinas, CA120$67,490$32.45$86,050$49,030
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA800$70,660$33.97$84,370$49,130
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA1,590$87,200$41.92$109,000$58,870
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA680$85,030$40.88$111,180$59,200
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA130$60,010$28.85$78,360$39,920
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA60$79,830$38.38$103,440$60,310
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA140$66,880$32.15$85,100$48,460
Santa Rosa, CA120$82,140$39.49$105,280$55,560
Stockton-Lodi, CA150$74,230$35.69$107,030$48,760
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA120$85,910$41.31$108,220$59,700
Visalia-Porterville, CA90$56,140$26.99$76,500$42,050
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Surgical Technologists, OCC Code 29-2055, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is certification required to become a Surgical Tech in California?

Certification is not required to become a Surgical Tech in California.

However, the State requires passing the national Certified Surgical Technologist Exam, which demonstrates your mastery of the field.

This opens up many more job opportunities since many employers require certification.

Why should I become certified in California?

Determining whether to pursue certification is a choice that each individual must decide upon based on their specific career goals.

However, most decide to earn a certification to widen their range of job opportunities and differentiate themselves from other candidates.

Why become a surgical technologist in California?

Many enter the field due to low educational requirements, allowing them to start their careers quickly.

Less schooling equates to less student loan debt.

Also, the medical field, specifically the Surgical Tech specialization, has plenty of available job opportunities, with California having around 9,100 jobs available.

Since there is such a demand for this position, employers are searching for your specialization.

Furthermore, you can work with the latest technologies, be part of a close-knit medical team, and get to change the lives of your patients daily.

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