What is a Surgical Technologist and Where Can This Career Take Me?

As you may already know, surgical technologists are important people in the operating process as they are responsible for helping prepare patients for surgery by dressing their wounds, transporting them onto operating tables, and helping patients remain calm before a procedure begins.

Plus, surgical techs are often responsible for handling important medical instruments, sterilizing operating rooms when surgery is complete, and assisting patients with wound care during post-op.

They are there in the operating room during the surgery, assisting the surgeon all the time.

Where Can I Go From Here?

Everybody starts the career by getting an entry-level surgical technologist job.

But, if you believe that you are born for more advanced positions, you may begin to wonder about the kinds of opportunities available for you to advance within the trade.

However, you need to have in mind that the transition into greater levels of this career will lead to greater levels of responsibility.

Specialized Functionality

Some surgical technologists prefer to work in certain surgical environments, helping to perform specific types of procedures.

This means that they choose to specialize in cosmetic surgeries, knee replacement surgeries, or labor and delivery surgeries.

These are all specialized fields and you can begin to drastically improve your expertise within your chosen functionality, which will result in an increase in compensation, especially with medical facilities that have a need for surgical technologists with your particular area of specialization.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the highest-paid surgical technologists in the country earned more than $67,000 per year and the job market is expected to expand by 12 percent in the next decade.

Surgical First Assistant

If you have chosen to advance, you can move from a surgical technologist to a career as a surgical assistant.

These professionals are also referred to as first assistants.

It is worth noting that this career path carries a greater level of responsibility than surgical technology as you will become second-in-command to the lead surgeon.

Your duties will be directing or overseeing the surgical team during an operation or acting as an additional pair of hands to the lead surgeon.

Besides a degree or certificate program, you will need to sit for the Certified Surgical First Assistant exam in order to find employment within this field.

BLS data indicate that the job market and salary expectations are almost the same for surgical technologists and surgical first assistants.


These professionals enjoy participating in open-heart surgeries.

If you are one of them, you may want to consider becoming a perfusionist, who are people trained to be in charge of operating machinery and administering a medication that controls the functions of the heart and lungs during surgery.

Their job is very responsible, as the heart typically needs to be stopped during a cardiovascular operating procedure.

Perfusionists actually help ensure that blood continues to flow to the patient’s organs and tissues while the operation is taking place.

To work as a perfusionist, you will need to complete a degree or certificate program in cardiac perfusion, along with the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion exam.

According to the BLS statistics, the job market for perfusionists will expand by 22 percent in the years to come and they earn between $80,000 and $147,000 annually.

Nurse Anesthetist

Administering anesthesia is a process handled by nurse anesthetists who need to possess the knowledge related to understanding dosage requirements and insertion sites.

Their responsibilities are huge and a successful career as a nurse anesthetist will require completion of a master’s degree program along with at least one year of clinical experience as a registered nurse.

The job market for nurse anesthetists is expected to experience 30 percent growth during the 10-year period and the highest salary in this career field was more than $180,000 per year, according to BLS.


The last level of advancement is becoming a surgeon.

This is considered the most ambitious goal of a surgical technologist.

To reach this level of responsibility, you will need to have several years of formal education which includes a four-year college degree in addition to medical school.

According to the BLS, the job market is expected to grow by 13 percent during the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026 and surgeons earn an average of $250,000 per year.

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