Surgical Tech Training Leads To A Rewarding Career

Surgical tech training can prepare you for a career in healthcare that is in demand and pays well. Surgical techs work in operating rooms in hospitals and surgical centers. They assist doctors and nurses by preparing and maintaining equipment used during surgery.

There are various training programs for surgical technologists. Some of them are offered through vocational schools and last a few months. Others are offered through colleges and last up to two years. A certificate is awarded upon completion of vocational school and an Associate Degree is awarded after two years of college. The length of the program may be determined by state requirements. Since regulations for licensure may vary by state, the length of training and amount of clinical experience can vary from place to place.

When choosing the best surgical tech training program, it is important to select one that is accredited by the state so the credit hours will count towards a license. Surgical techs can earn credentials through professional organizations such as the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting and the National Healthcare Association. Earning credentials will greatly increase the likelihood of finding employment. In some states, credentials are mandatory.

Surgical Tech TrainingTo enter a training program to become a surgical technologist, you must first have a GED or high school diploma. It also helps if you have a strong background in the sciences such as biology and anatomy. In addition, you should have good concentration skills as you will need to be very detail oriented during a surgical procedure. You should also have good manual dexterity so you can handle surgical tools. You will need to work well under pressure since operations can sometimes be very high stress situations. You will also need to be reasonably fit with enough stamina to be able to stand for long periods of time during a medical procedure.

Getting into surgical tech school is the same as getting into college. You must meet the entry requirements of the school and apply by their deadlines. If you attend a community college, the programs typically begin and end on a traditional school calendar. Vocational schools may be more flexible and allow you to begin training at other times of the year.

You can expect to take classes in biology, anatomy, patient care, medical terminology, and equipment care. Students will learn how to care for patients, sterilize equipment, and maintain a sterile field during surgery. Some of the training will be in the classroom and some of it will be during clinical classes in a work setting.

Upon completion of a training program, you will be able to set up the equipment needed for specific surgeries, pass instruments to surgeons, assist surgeons when appropriate, account for sponges, prepare and maintain sterile fields, and provide patient care.

The cost of surgical tech training varies among schools, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $6000 to $25,000. If you attend a traditional community college, the costs will be higher since the training program is longer and you will take additional classes in order to obtain an Associate Degree. You probably won’t have to pay for the entire course upfront. Tuition will be due at the start of each semester or term. It is likely you will be eligible for some sort of financial aid as long as the school is accredited, even if it is a vocational school.

Training for a career as a surgical tech prepares you for a career with job security. The demand for healthcare workers of all kinds is expected to grow faster than many other jobs because of the aging baby boomers who will place a heavy demand on the healthcare system. In addition to a secure future, you can look forward to a decent salary. In 2010, the median salary for surgical techs was $39,920. Besides that, you will also enjoy personal satisfaction from doing a job that helps save or improve lives. Becoming a surgical tech can also be a stepping-stone to another occupation in the medical field. With experience and further training, you could go on to become a nurse or even a surgeon. Being a surgical tech is an ideal job for anyone who loves healthcare, medicine, and caring for others. Choosing the right surgical tech training is the first step to a rewarding new career.

Surgical Tech Jobs: What The Future Holds For You

The appeal of surgical tech jobs is obvious; an exciting environment that provides numerous opportunities to showcase your talents under pressure, quick decision making capabilities and a promising outlook for job security. Surgical technologists enjoy working in the medical field right alongside top doctors in the best facilities and play a major role in saving and improving lives. The choices that present themselves to people in this career field are vast and interesting, from delivering babies to saving animals to assisting in rhinoplasty. The sky is virtually the limit for surgical technologists.

With the general population growing older and the perpetual advancements in medical technology, surgical technology opportunities face upwards of 25% growth in the near future. As more people live longer, the number of surgical patients generally increases. Procedures that address the needs of an aging population are constantly being performed and improved upon. Thus, the need to fill surgical tech positions steadily increases in a predictable statistical pattern.

The average surgical technologist’s starting salary is fast approaching $30,000, but that truly is just the beginning. Factors that contribute to the growth of earnings include education, accumulative experience, the institution employed at, which shifts worked and of course, the individual’s ability to learn and excel. Surgical tech jobs are not limited to one particular field of medicine or facility, or even major metropolitan areas. Some of the highest paid surgical tech jobs are also found in the most desirable of states to live, such as Hawaii and California.

The top earners in surgical technology usually specialize in cosmetic surgery. This particular field has rapidly grown over the past few years and the demand for cosmetic procedures is expected to keep rising. Since these operations are some of the most expensive and performed by the most exclusive, even famous physicians, the techs in this field garner salaries in excess of $60,000. Alaska, Connecticut and Nevada, along with Hawaii and California offer the best compensation for surgical techs in the country. These states also carry the highest cost of living rates as well, which must be factored into the equation.

Surgical Tech JobsMost surgical techs find themselves in hospital operating rooms at one time or another in their careers. There, they prepare the room and the patient for the surgery to be performed, by sterilizing instruments and surfaces and performing any necessary pre-op procedures. During the actual surgery, the tech stands at the ready and supports the surgeon in every conceivable way. The surgical tech is responsible for all post-op clean-up and patient care as well. Operating room surgical techs earn around $37,000 annually.

The role of surgical technologist in the dentist office is also one that is evolving to accommodate an increased demand for cosmetic improvements. Although techs in dentistry also assist the doctor during surgery and take care of the surgical environment and patient both before and after procedures, their role and opportunity for earnings is expanding. As more and more people look to dentists to improve their appearance through surgical enhancements, the technologist’s value increases and now stands at an average of $46,000.

Many surgical techs prefer the calm and often predictable atmosphere of a physician’s office. In this setting, nearly all procedures are scheduled well in advance and preparations can be made with little pressure. As with other specialty practices, the tech assists the doctor in surgical procedures and preps both the room and patient. Once completed, the tech finishes by cleaning out the environment and readying the patient for departure. Physician office surgical techs often earn around $35,000-36,000 a year.

Far removed from the surgical environment of people, veterinary surgical technology specialists also enjoy an abundance of choices and job security. Although the educational course for a vet tech is considerably different, it provides one of the most interesting and fulfilling opportunities in the surgical technologist spectrum. From standard procedures such as teeth cleaning or spaying and neutering, to ground breaking, life-saving operations, veterinary surgery assistants can expect to see and do it all while earning approximately $40,000

Regardless of the area of expertise chosen by a surgical tech, they all must go through a fairly rigorous education process. Although certificates requiring less than a year of study are sometimes acceptable, most professionals prefer a candidate with at least an associate’s degree, for starters. Upon earning the associate’s degree, an applicant becomes eligible to take either the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam or Surgical Assisting and the Tech in Surgery (TS-C) exam. Branching out from basic certification to specialty areas requires other educational enlistment as well as internships and accumulative experience. The highest paying surgical tech jobs, such as those in plastic surgery, maintain higher educational requirements, beginning with a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing and extending into residency programs.

One of the most important qualifications of anyone entering the medical field is compassion and the desire to help people. The attitude and personality of a surgical tech is vital to a positive patient disposition; the tech is often the last face seen before surgery begins and the first seen once it is over. They must comfort the patient and alleviate fears, as well as educate them and answer questions. Also important for anyone considering this field to know is that no matter what the specialty or facility selected, standing is a constant part of the job. Sometimes surgical staff are on their feet for hours.

The decision to enter the surgical tech field is indeed a wise one; continued growth and job security offer individuals long-term promise. The opportunity to increase earnings or change up the 9-5 scenery by altering the career course into another area of expertise can be very appealing. Jobs in surgical technology are located in some of the most desirable areas of the country and once established in the field, a person has unlimited choices and complete control over their own destiny. Surgical tech jobs are some of the most stable, exciting and coveted positions in any industry today.

Surgical Tech Job Description

If you’re looking for an exciting career in the expanding health services field, read this surgical tech job description to find if it might be the right career for you.

What is a surgical tech?

Surgical technologists, also known as operating room technicians, help in all aspects of surgery — preparing tools and equipment, preparing patients for operations, ensuring the operating room itself is ready for the procedure, and even directly assisting doctors and nurses during the procedure itself.

What duties to surgical techs have before an operation?

Surgical techs are responsible for preparing an operating room for a procedure before any patients, doctors, or nurses even enter the room. Some regular pre-procedure duties for surgical techs include:

  • Preparing and sterilizing medical instruments
  • Calibrating equipment and machinery to ensure it works properly during surgery
  • Preparing solutions and other necessary medical materials
  • Readying patients for surgery and moving them into the operating room
  • Positioning patients properly on the operating table
  • Disinfecting and preparing areas of the patient’s body for the procedure
  • Helping nurses and doctors put on sterile surgical gowns and masks

What duties do surgical techs have once the operation begins?

surgical tech job descriptionOnce the room is prepared and the procedure is ready to begin, surgical techs still have an important role. Surgical techs continue to assist in the procedure by providing requested tools and equipment to doctors and nurses. They may also be required to apply dressings or prepare and transport fluids and other specimens from the patient for further laboratory research.

When the surgery is complete, a surgical tech will often transport the patient to the recovery room, then return to the operating room to restock supplies and ensure the operating room is ready for the next procedure.

How do I become a surgical technician?

Certain states and jurisdictions in the United States require certification to work as a surgical tech. Many other states do not require certification; however, it can be difficult to find work as a surgical tech without certification as proof of both book and real world knowledge of the challenging and intense experience of working in an operating room.

An individual wishing to become a certified surgical tech can take a few different paths. Many technical or vocational schools offer surgical tech certification programs, as do many community colleges. These programs can take anywhere from a number of months to a couple of years to successfully complete, and provide an associate’s degree or a certification from an organization recognized for training of surgical techs at the completion of the program.

Organizations offering certification for surgical techs include:

In order to keep certifications current, some form of continuing education or reexamination is usually required on a periodic basis. Many surgical techs take the necessity for continuing health education to further their careers by training to become surgical assistants, physician’s assistants, or even registered nurses.

What are employers looking for in a surgical tech?

Most surgical techs are employed by hospitals, though some may also work in outpatient surgery centers which focus only on surgical procedures, rather than the wide variety of health services hospitals provide. Some are also be employed by outpatient care centers, or dentist’s offices. Most employers will be looking for some sort of certification or degree before considering hiring a surgical tech, but which certifications are important for a specific employer will vary from hospital to hospital and region to region. The more certifications, degrees, and real world work experience a candidate has, the better their chances of being hired and commanding a higher salary once employed.

In addition to degrees, certifications and work experience, employers will also be interested in some other skills that might not be prominent on a resume, including:

  • Reliability and attention to detail. In an operating room environment, lives are on the line. While the surgeons are most directly responsible for the well being of a patient, the surgical tech must ensure that the doctors and nurses are provided the proper tools and equipment in a timely and mistake-free manner to minimize lost time and the potential for costly mistakes.
  • Stress management skills. An operating room is a tense environment, and surgical techs should be able to work under pressure without sacrificing the quality of their work.
  • Stamina. Surgeries can be long, taxing affairs for surgical techs. A surgical tech should be able to stay on their feet and remain at the top of their game for long periods of time.

What does the job market look like for surgical techs?

Like many health care employees, surgical techs are in demand and that demand will only increase in the coming years. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that demand for surgical technologists will increase by 19% between 2010 and 2020. As technology continues to improve, the number of surgeries performed in the United States continues to increase, as well as the number performed in outpatient surgery centers. Surgical techs are necessary to fulfill this increased demand for surgical procedures.

In 2010, the median annual salary for surgical techs was $39,920 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with obvious difference depending on geographical location and levels of experience and certification. This amount is significantly higher than the median across all occupations of $33,840. Most surgical techs work full time, and may be required to work or be on call odd hours, given the nature of the medical field and surgery in particular.

Surgical technologist is an in demand career that has a direct impact on the lives and health of others. It can be a gateway to other, more advanced medical careers, or serve as a lifelong employment opportunity that pays well and will never fall out of demand. If you have any other questions that weren’t answered by this surgical tech job description, you may want to inquire with local accredited training programs for more specific answers.

What Does a Surgical Tech Do?

The medical profession has an almost countless amount of different opportunities, and a surgical tech position is a good choice for those who do not wish to go through several years of schooling. In order to make a good decision, however, you need to know the answer to two important questions: What does a surgical tech do, and how does one prepare for a career as a surgical tech?

Necessary Schooling

In order to become a surgical tech, you will need to complete a specialized training program. These are offered via many community colleges, trade schools, junior colleges and nursing schools. Most schools will offer two different programs, and your initial salary will be based on which one you have completed. The quicker program lasts only one year, but if you enroll in a two year program, then you can earn an Associate Degree.

Once you have completed the training program you will need to decide whether or not to apply for certification. Although most hospitals do not require surgical techs to be certified, it can provide you with a great advantage over other applicants. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting offers a certification exam, but be forewarned that the pass rate is quite low. For this reason, most surgical techs opt to skip the certification process. If you are able to successfully pass the exam, however, the certificate will make it easier to find work, and it may also increase your starting salary.

What Does a Surgical Tech Do?

What Does A Surgical Tech DoThere are standard tasks that all surgical techs will undertake, but different medical facilities will require various additional tasks. All surgical techs will be required to prepare an operating room so that it is sterile before a surgery. This is a surgical tech’s number one role, and it is a vital part of the health industry. Without a sterile operating room, the success rate for surgeries would plummet. Due to this, there is always a need for qualified surgical techs.

In addition to prepping the operating room, a surgical tech will be required to be present during the actual operations. Their role during the process will vary from hospital to hospital, but it is vital for a surgical tech to be comfortable with the sight of blood. Due to the length of many operations, it is also imperative that a surgical tech be able to stand in one spot for an extended period of time.

Many surgical techs will be asked to assist the surgeons and nurses as they are getting ready for surgery. This may include helping them get their gloves, caps and scrubs on to ensure that everything stays sterile. During the surgery itself, the surgical tech will be in charge of making sure that everyone stays in compliance with sanitary guidelines. If anything happens that can compromise the sterility of the environment, then the surgical tech is required to alert the surgical staff and take steps to rectify the issue.

Most hospitals will not require a surgical tech to do the actual cleaning of an operating room after a surgery, but the tech is required to make sure that the room is sterile again before the next operation. A surgical tech will be in charge of handling the used surgical equipment after the operation is complete, and he or she will also be in charge of ensuring that all tools are sterile before an operation begins.

In some instances, a surgical tech will be required to help prep a patient before their surgery. This may include cleaning, shaving and disinfecting the area that will be operated on. Some hospitals will also require a surgical tech to help transport a patient after their operation to the recovery room, along with delivering charts as ordered by a physician.

The Daily Routine of a Surgical Tech

As you have probably already determined, there is no specific daily routine that all surgical techs will follow, but there will be a specific routine for whichever facility you are working at. Regardless of where you work, however, you can be guaranteed that your daily duties will involve prepping an operating room, maintaining a sterile environment during an operation and removing all of the surgical tools at the end of the operation. This process may be repeated several times a day, or it may happen only once, depending on the length of the surgery that you are involved with.

All other aspects of a surgical tech’s day will be based upon the exact location that they work at. There are some surgical techs that specialize in a specific type of surgery, and this will also have an impact on their daily routine.

What Does a Surgical Tech do to Advance their Career?

Without additional schooling, a tech can only go so far, but there are a few options for growth, such as specializing in a specific type of surgery. Once you have demonstrated a high level of skill and have gained seniority, it is possible to be promoted to the title of a senior technician. In this role, you would train new surgical techs. You would also oversee the work of all of the hospital’s other surgical techs and ensure that they are fully complying with sterility guidelines.

If you wish to go beyond specializing in a specific surgery or working as a senior technician, then you should consider going back to school for a degree. A surgical assistant is the next logical move for a surgical tech to make, and some hospitals will even consider on the job training in lieu of a degree. To make more money, however, it is always a good idea to get a degree. Working as a surgical tech will make you more involved in the actual surgery process. You would be required to help with suturing and suctioning, and you would also call upon your sterility training to help keep the operating environment safe.

Is this the Right Job for Me?

If you are comfortable with the sight of blood and open wounds, then a career as a surgical tech may be a good option for you. It will provide you with a quickly attainable foothold into the medical profession, and you will also be providing a very important service to others. If you decide later on that you want to advance into other areas of medicine, it will give you important on the job training and contacts. Now that you can answer the question of what does a surgical tech do, it is time to consider enrolling in a one or a two year program.

Surgical Tech Schools in California

Californians interested in training for a surgical technician career may attend one of many accredited surgical tech schools in California. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, surgical technologists earned an annual median income of $42,460. Employment for surgical techs is expected to increase by 19 percent from 2010 through 2020. Surgical tech training and education is offered through community colleges and vocational schools. Programs require an average of one to two years to finish, with eligibility to sit for certification upon successful completion.

Surgical techs, work in operating rooms before, during and after surgical procedures. Responsibilities may include preparing the surgical instruments, supplies and equipment before surgery and ensuring a sterile surgical environment. Techs also prepare patients for surgery and assist surgical tea members don surgical gowns, masks and gloves. During surgery, techs assist the surgeon by providing the requested instruments and supplies. Techs may also cut sutures and apply wound dressings. After surgery, techs assist patients immediately following surgery and prepare the surgical area for the next patient.

General Program Requirements

Accredited programs include general requirements before acceptance into surgical tech programs. Potential students must have earned a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Additionally, applicants must be immunized, be in good physical health, have excellent vision and must be able to stand for long periods of time. Program applicants may also be required to submit to drug testing and a criminal background check before beginning the required externship and clinical rotation required at surgical tech schools in California.

Surgical Tech Schools in CaliforniaNewbridge College

Newbridge College offers a surgical technology training program that leads to a diploma. The program, available at the Long Beach and Santa Ana campuses, provides the option of day or evening classes. The daytime program requires 64 weeks to complete and the evening courses can be completed in 88 weeks. Courses include, anatomy, medical terminology, sterile techniques and surgical safety standards. The program also features hands-on training, including a required externship, to prepare the graduate for entry-level employment as a surgical technologist. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates are eligible to sit for the National Certification Exam

Newbridge offers employment placement services through its student career center and in 2010, the college placed 100 percent of the graduates from the Long Beach campus, Placements for the Santa Ana campus were considerably lower at 33 percent. As of 2011, the total cost for the Surgical Technology Diploma program was $29,122.50. Newbridge’s accreditation by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) enables eligible students to apply for Federal Financial Aid.

CNI College

CNI College, located in Orange County, was established in 1994 and has become one of California’s leading vocational learning institutions. The school offers a 13-month surgical tech training program that includes classroom instruction, mock surgeries and externships within the community. Coursework prepares students in all facets of the position including surgical supplies management, equipment and instrument sterilization, surgical computer operation and patient homeostasis.

As of 2010, tuition and fees were $23,297.50 and total cost for books and supplies as $1,452. SJVC’s placement rate for graduates was 71 percent in 2010. Qualified students may be eligible for Federal Financial Aid, including grants and loans. Scholarship opportunities are also available for U.S. residents.

CNI is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools (CAPPS) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Graduates from CNI’s surgical tech program qualify to sit for the national certification exam.

Skyline College

Skyline College, located in San Bruno, features a two-year Associate in Science in Surgical Technology, in addition to a 12-month certificate in Surgical Technology. To earn an associate degree, students complete general education courses and degree specific courses such as, surgical patient preparation, standards for sterile surgical environment, pathology basics and patient wound care . Additional coursework may include microbiology, theoretical and practical patient care, and human anatomy. A certificate in surgical technology features similar course work as the associate degree, with the exception of general education courses. The program includes classroom lecture and clinical training with an externship.

Tuition and fees for the 60 credit-hour surgical tech associate degree is $12,600. Total costs for the Certificate in Surgical Technology was approximately $6,400 in 2011. Skyline’s surgical tech programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
In 2011, Skyline College successfully placed 74 percent of the graduates from the school’s surgical tech programs. Federal Financial Aid is available for students who meet eligibility requirements. Successful graduates qualify to sit for the surgical tech national examination, required for certification.

San Joaquin Valley College

San Joaquin Valley College offers a two-year associate degree for surgical technology at its Bakersfield and Fresno campuses. Classes are conducted Monday through Thursday and clinical rotations are scheduled each Friday. As of 2011, total tuition and fees for the program at both campuses was $31,750. The program prepares students for work in birthing centers, out-patient surgical centers, oral surgery centers and hospital operating rooms.

In addition to an Associate of Science degree, graduates earn CPR certification and are eligible to take the National Certification Exam for the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential. As of 2012, SJVC posted a 96 percent graduation rate, with an 84 percent job placement rate for graduates of the Surgical Technology program. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

California not only offers numerous choices for training and education, the job market in California for surgical techs is ripe with opportunity. In 2011, according to the U.S. Labor Department, California was the second largest employer of surgical techs, just behind Texas, with 8,900 surgical technicians employed full-time. The median wage for surgical techs in California was higher than the nation’s average in 2011, with surgical techs earning $51,940 annually. Surgical tech schools in California provide the necessary preparation that leads to certification for aspiring surgical techs.

How to Prepare for Surgical Tech Courses

If you have made the decision to take surgical tech courses and become a surgical technologist, you are probably excited about your future career. And now you’re looking to find out how to move forward and take the next steps to completing the courses and the requirements. Here you will find information on applying for surgical tech programs, information on prerequisites and recommended topics to study prior to entering a program, and even specialty areas within the field.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Surgical Technology is one of the fastest growing fields in medicine, which makes it a smart choice for your future employment. It also means that colleges and universities are expanding their surgical technology programs and options. There are various options open to you, including community and junior colleges, military, hospitals with structured programs, online programs, universities, and vocational or technical schools. At any of these institutions there will be basically two types of programs. According to the Association of Surgical Technologists, you can receive either an Associate’s Degree in Surgical Technology or Diploma/Certificate in Surgical Technology. The Associate’s Degree is a two-year program and the diploma/certificate takes between 9 and 15 months.

surgical tech coursesIn addition to considering the type of program you’re applying for, you also want to consider a few more things when applying to schools. While it is not mandatory for a school to be accredited, you will have a better chance at employment and opportunity, if you get your degree or certificate from an accredited program. Accredited programs should have two components, which are having an instructional experience based on lecture and textbook and a clinical training experience with supervision. There are three different organizations that accredit surgical technology programs, and they are the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA), the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Educational Schools (ABHES). You can go to any of these organizations’ websites to download a list of schools they have accredited.

Another factor to consider in all of this is the online program. There are some online surgical tech courses and programs. With this type of program, though, you want to make sure you consider all potential advantages and disadvantages. Some of the advantages of online courses include the reduced cost and the flexible scheduling. Some of the disadvantages might be considering how this affects your ability to meet your clinical experience requirements and limited interaction with professors, staff, and peers who might be able to provide support throughout the program.

When you are ready to apply, you can apply online in many cases, or at least express interest and start the application process. Once you express interest, some programs may send you a packet to complete or have you complete the information online. They will be looking for you to have a high school diploma and preferably a background in certain courses. Some programs will have a separate class for students with no medical background and others will require students to take these prerequisites prior to beginning the surgical tech courses. Examples of these prerequisites include Anatomy and Physiology, Biology, English Composition, College Math, Psychology, and Medical Terminology.

Not only are colleges and employers looking for a background in certain science, math, and medical courses but also a background in personal and social skills. These skills they are looking for are things, such as being responsible, stable, quick and accurate, detail-oriented, having stamina and endurance for long hours through surgery, and being able to perform under pressure. You must be orderly, conscientious, and emotionally stable. Some programs are also looking for you to pass a manual dexterity test, which tests how quickly you are able to physically handle instruments and focus on the task at hand. As a surgical technologist, you are working very closely, right along with surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and patients.

As a surgical tech, you will be doing much of the preparation for surgery. You will be setting up the operating room by setting up the instruments and equipment and making sure it’s working properly. You also sterilize instruments and equipment. In addition to the instruments and equipment, you are also responsible for checking on the patients and getting their charts and vital signs, positioning them on the operating table, washing and shaving them, and draping them. And you are also the one helping the other members of the surgical team put their sterile gloves and gowns on. These are some of the things you will learn about in your courses and see in your clinical experiences.

While considering your role in these courses, you should also be considering whether or not you might want to specialize. Surgical techs can also specialize and choose to work in a medical specialty field, such as neurosurgery, open heart surgery, orthopedic surgery, plastic surgery, or even organ transplantation. You could also be what’s known as a circulating technologist. This person has many jobs in the operating room. He or she might prepare the patient, open packages, talk to the patient before surgery, help with anesthesia, keep a written account of the surgical procedure, and basically be the unsterile member of the team. And, with additional coursework and training, you can become a first assistant. This person can help in surgery with sponging, cauterizing, suturing, retracting, and closing wounds. These surgical techs can even take jobs at sterile supply companies, operating equipment firms, and insurance companies. There are many different jobs within the field of surgical technology for you to consider.

As you can see, there is a great deal to consider when planning your career as a surgical technologist. You have many options regarding programs, courses, specialties, and even locations throughout the country to find a job. Employment in this field is growing faster than the average so you will have many choices upon completion of your program. Surgical tech courses offer you a wide range of options with a promise of a stable career and financial future.

What to Expect in Surgical Tech Programs

Surgical tech programs are good for those who would like to enter the medical field but may not be able to commit the money or years to becoming a physician or nurse. This type of medical tech program generally can be completed with a postsecondary certificate or associate’s degree. Health care itself is a growing industry, and job opportunities in this field are growing, as well.

People who perform this job also are known as operating room technicians or “scrubs.” The main role is to assist surgeons and surgical staff during operations. They prepare the room for surgery, counting supplies and making sure everything needed is on hand and in good order. They also can help prepare patients for surgery with cleaning and sterilization of a surgical area, positioning patients and the blankets to cover them correctly on the table for the procedure. These specialists also can be responsible for transporting the patient to and from the surgical ward.

Surgical Tech Programs

surgical tech programsPrerequisites in this field include a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma, with emphasis in health, math and science to prepare for postsecondary education. Following graduation, those interested in entering this field can study at a community college or a vocational technical school that offers training in this type of work. Training at a vocational school to prepare for a certification exam can take a little less than a year. Taking courses for an associate’s degree can take up to two years, and then studying for certification can take a few months after that.

Beyond the course studies, certification can help a candidate land a potential job. Earning certification involves participation in an accredited program and passing a final exam, along with participating in continued education in the field. Once certified through the program, job placement with a participating hospital or outpatient surgery center may follow.

The bulk of courses involved in surgical tech programs revolve around general medical studies. These courses include anatomy, biology, math and medical terminology, microbiology and pharmacology, among others. There also are courses that teach the finer points of operating room work and details of a surgical tech’s job. These elements include patient care, surgical procedures and management of the operating room, including tool inventory and sterilization.

You can go for a variety of associate medical degrees that allow you to receive surgical technician training on your road to certification. These types of associate degree programs include health administration, health services, health sciences, medical assisting, medical billing and radiology. Any of these types of two-year programs can put you on track to working toward surgical tech certification.

Employment and Advancement

U.S. federal statistics show that this line of work is expected to grow 19 percent during this decade. That means for those who have earned an associate’s degree and certification, the employment situation may work out well. With areas still recovering from the recession, hospitals may choose to apply cost-control measures by going with technicians for surgical support jobs.

Upon graduation, you could find yourself working at a hospital or outpatient surgery facility. The need for this type of work is expanding as more boomers become older and seek medical attention in areas to boost their lifestyle, such as joint and hip replacements, vision improvements through eye surgeries, and health care for medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke and cancer.

You may choose to specialize in a certain type of surgery, such as neurosurgery or heart surgery. Becoming specialized can help you advance in the field. You also could advance within hospital ranks with your surgical room expertise and earn a job managing central supply, taking inventory and preparing orders for items through the hospital. You may also decide to specialize as a patient representative, handling the surgical paperwork and visiting with the patient as you go over terms of the surgery and making sure they understand any surgical preparations. Some technicians move on to work with insurance companies or surgical supply companies, using their previous experience as background knowledge for their new job. With additional course study, you could become a project manager with a medical supply company and work with clients in different cities.

Further training as a surgical tech can lead to advancement from technician to surgical assistant. Surgical assistants offer service that is more specialized to a surgeon, including performing some minor surgical techniques as per the surgeon’s instructions. The education gained for a technician job also can serve as the basis in a college degree program to become a physician assistant or registered nurse, with courses taken for your surgical tech job counting toward your curriculum in an advanced degree program. You can think of the surgical tech field as the first step in entering a world of health care possibilities, from working with patients to administration and management duties.

Choosing This Work as a Career

To help decide whether becoming a surgical tech is the right line of work for you, consider how well you handle stress, how physically fit you are and how well you work with your hands. This type of job may appeal to someone who can handle stress and sort through problems efficiently. Surgical techs need to be able to work in high-pressure, split-second situations. They also must be able to stand for long periods during a surgery and quickly hand off necessary instruments to the attending surgeon.

If this line of work sounds like something you are interested in, you can explore training and educational program available in your area. The field is a good introduction to medicine and can put you on track toward a higher-paying job in the health care management field. Take some time to visit with a counselor affiliated with an accredited program in this field to learn more about the course study. You also can learn details concerning any potential scholarships available or financial assistance to help you in your enrollment. With the right skills and dedication, surgical tech programs may be the right choice to begin a new career for you.

How to Become a Certified Surgical Technologist

If you are looking to get into a career where you can enjoy a rewarding job on a regular basis and work closely with surgery patients in a medical field, then there is a good chance that you have found yourself wondering how to become a certified surgical technologist. After all, this is a great career to get into for those who want to work in a hospital or medical office and who want to have a job that challenges them on a regular basis. Also, as a surgical technologist, you can feel rewarded in your job, as you will often be working to help save people’s lives and rid them of medical ailments.

The Requirements to Become a Certified Surgical Technologist
As with just about any career in the medical field that involves directly working with patients, a career as a surgical technologist requires quite a bit of training and experience before you will be able to actually work independently on the job. After all, you wouldn’t want just anyone helping to perform surgery on you, right? This is why there is a list of strict requirements and regulations that must be met in order to enter the field.

For starters, all surgical techs must have a degree in a related university program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (also known as the CAAHEP) or ABHES (Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools). Typically, these programs last anywhere from nine months to two years, depending on the specific credit hour load and schedule that the student takes on.

However, once one receives their related degree in the field (which usually requires a variety of courses related to anatomy, physiology, equipment handling and medical terminology), they are still not ready to work in the field. A lot of times, they will also go through some direct hands on training at a local hospital or medical institution (though this will vary depending on the school attended) in order to get real-world experience.

However, even once this is done, the minimum qualifications for in terms of how to become a certified surgical technologist and get a job in the field have not yet been met. Perhaps the biggest requirement and most daunting step of all is to earn the required surgical technologist certification. This is explicitly done by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), which is commissioned through the Department of Labor. Certification is granted once the prospect has passed a national exam.

The exam itself includes a multiple choice portion, which is taken on a computer at an institution to be determined by the NBSTSA. In order to even take the exam in the first place, one must have the minimum education requirements listed above or must be able to prove that they have seven years of experience in the field.

Only those who pass the exam will be granted their certification as a surgical technologist.

Is That It?
Certified Surgical TechnologistMany people think that once you receive certification in the field, you are set for life and can go off and find a job. And while the latter part may be true (surgical techs often have no trouble finding a job after becoming certified), the truth is that the certification is never permanent and always comes with stipulations. For example, those who are certified through passing the exam must constantly be enrolled in courses in their field. A lot of times, employers will pay for these voluntarily as a way of keeping their technologists up to date and informed about new advancements or changes in the field.

Another stipulation about being certified is that one must re-take the certification test once every four years, and pass it, in order to keep their certification. This means that one must always be up to date with happenings in the field. Otherwise, they could end up failing their exam and losing their certification as a result. This is why many of the required classes are in place and required.

Should one fail their re-certification exam, the good news is that it can be re-taken. However, this often reflects poorly not only on the person him or herself, but could also have negative effects on the person’s job. If the exam is not passed within a certain amount of time, an employer may choose to fire the surgical technologist.

Luckily, exam failure rates are typically low as a result of the amount of experience and knowledge one acquires while on the job every day. Most surgical technologists have been in very intense and unique situations that prepare them for just about anything that they could possibly see in the surgery room.

Is This Field Right For You?
While the allure of being involved in the medical field and being able to help people in the hospital is appealing to a lot of people, it is important to carefully consider whether or not this career path is right for you before getting into an educational program that is related to it. Those who work as surgical technologists must be able to stand witnessing surgeries and, in some cases, will see people die on the operating table. This can be traumatic, and it is certainly not for everybody. Those who get queasy, faint, or lightheaded around blood should not consider going into this field.

Still, this is a great option for those who want to get into the medical field and who feel as though they have what it takes to help save people’s lives. Not to mention, surgical technologists are always in high demand, so they often enjoy great job security and opportunity for advancement in their jobs as well.

Overall, becoming a certified surgical technologist may not be the easiest process in the world, as it involves many long and difficult steps. Still, now that you know the steps that are required when it comes to how to become a certified surgical technologist, you can get started on the path to your new career.

Surgical Tech Requirements

Anyone interested in becoming a surgical tech needs to meet the following surgical tech requirements. Also called a “scrub tech” or an “operating room tech,” the surgical tech is responsible for assisting the surgical team in an operating room by anticipating the needs of the surgeon. Surgical techs also assist the surgical team by preparing the operating room and the surgical equipment. They need to have knowledge of operating procedures and sterilization techniques. In addition, they may interact with patients, so a good bedside manner is important. Most surgical techs work in large hospitals, although it is also possible to work in a smaller operating clinic. During any given operation procedure, there will be three to five surgical techs present.

Several skills are important for surgical techs to have. First, they should be detail-oriented. The job of the surgical tech is precise and the tech needs to be able to pay attention to the slightest detail. He or she must be able to anticipate the needs of a surgeon, so attentiveness and precision are of the utmost importance. Dexterity is also essential. The tools of a surgeon are often stainless steel, and tend to be delicate, so a surgical tech should not be clumsy or fumbling. Quick, smooth, and precise movement is essential to success as a surgical tech. Stamina is also important. Surgical techs may spend hours on their feet, with minimal opportunities to stretch or take a break. Finally, it is important for surgical techs to be calm under pressure. Situations in the operating room can range from routine to emergent, and surgical techs need to be able to handle any situation as it arises, and function smoothly even when the patient’s life is on the line.

surgical tech requirementsEmployment opportunities for surgical techs are increasing as the population of the United States ages. With a greater proportion of the population over 60 years old, the incidence of surgical procedures will increase, and surgical techs will be required to keep up with this growth. As technology evolves, newly trained surgical techs will be at a premium because of their up-to-date knowledge of the tools used in the operating room. Median annual pay for surgical techs was around $40,000 in 2010, or about $20 per hour. Salaries are decent, considering that surgical techs do not need a bachelor’s degree in order to become certified.

Surgical techs are required to undergo specific training in order to gain their certification. They must graduate from a surgical technology program accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). This agency is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Graduates are certified by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) as “Certified Surgical Technologists”. Those who are looking to fulfill surgical tech requirements should ensure that the program they attend has the appropriate certifications.

Programs for surgical techs range from nine months to fifteen months for a certificate, or up to two years for an associate’s degree. Those with the more advanced associate’s degree are more likely to find employment, because employers are on the lookout for candidates with the most training. There are no prerequisites for surgical tech programs, although familiarity with the requirements of the position will benefit the applicant. In addition, surgical techs will need to renew their certification every four years. The guidelines for frequency of re-certification vary by state, and a renewal can be obtained by passing an examination or by fulfilling a specified number of contact hours. For renewal by examination under NBSTSA, previously certified surgical technologists who are members of NBSTSA can expect to pay about $400 in fees, while non-members can expect to pay around $500. For renewal by continuing education credits, techs must earn 60 credits. Late renewals require additional fees, so techs should keep a close eye on renewal deadlines.

Tuition for surgical tech programs varies from one program to another. It is important to find a school that provides a thorough and high-quality education, not just an attractive cost. At some schools, students can apply for financial aid. Education loans are also available to help cover the cost of the program. Less frequently, medical programs might sponsor a prospective tech’s education, contingent upon the tech’s agreement to work for that institution for a given number of years.

Coursework for surgical techs is broad, covering several medical disciplines to prepare the tech for work in the operating theater. Anatomy and physiology, medical vocabulary, biology, pharmacology, microbiology, and other medical courses are essential, giving the surgical tech a basic medical education. Additional courses address other key tech skills. Patient care, sterility procedures, and other skill-oriented coursework will be elements of the surgical tech’s education.

Surgical techs can be promoted if they have exceptional skill or if they have several years of experience. The highest rank a surgical tech can obtain is that of first assistant surgical tech. This role offers greater involvement in the procedure. First assistant surgical techs may be directly involved with the surgical procedure, doing anything from stanching blood flow to applying bandages and suturing the opening. The first assistant surgical tech may also supervise the sterility of the gowning procedure, which involves the surgical gowns, aprons, masks, and gloves.

The position can be challenging in several ways. It is physically demanding, as surgical techs are often required to spend many hours on their feet. It can be mentally exerting as well, because during an operation a surgical tech may have to concentrate and stay alert for the entire length of the surgery. Surgery times could range from as little as half an hour for simple surgeries to many hours for more complex surgical procedures. Additionally, surgical techs often lack autonomy, because the role is based on an assisting ethic. The surgical tech is present to assist the surgeon, so the prospective surgical tech should make sure he or she is comfortable with the assisting role.

While surgical tech requirements may vary slightly from state to state, the basic requirements are covered here.

How to Obtain Surgical Tech Certification

The health care field is certainly one that offers a wide variety of career options, as well as longevity. Those that are interested in a career in the health care industry can choose from a variety of specialist areas. One such area is working as a surgical tech. In order to become a surgical technician, you must complete training requirements, as well as becoming certified and maintaining certification. The training typically takes place at trade schools or community colleges. It’s important to learn about to obtain surgical tech certification before you embark on this career.

General Information

Surgical techs are vital to the operation of the operating room. They help prepare the rooms for surgery, and also prepare patients for surgery. Surgical technologists set up the rooms with everything that the surgeon will need during surgery. As they put together and assemble the surgical equipment, surgical techs ensure that it’s sterilized and in perfect operating order. In addition, they might assist with diagnostic equipment. Surgical techs are under direct supervision by surgeons and nurses.

Surgical Tech CertificationSurgical technologists may also help prepare the patients. This can mean everything from taking patients back to surgery, disinfecting the incision area, helping to put on hospital gowns, and take vital signs. Surgical techs may also maintain patient charts before, during, and after surgery.

During the surgery, surgical techs hold tools such as retractors and pass surgery instruments to the surgeon. They help manage the equipment needed during surgery, and process any items that will need to be analyzed in a laboratory later on. Once surgery is over, the surgery tech will help apply any dressings to incision sites, assist with anesthesia, transfer patients into the recovery area, and monitoring patients post-surgery. After surgery, techs are often responsible for restocking all equipment and items in the operating room. While exact duties will vary, all of these fall into the surgery tech arena.

Most surgical technicians work at hospitals. Other career options include employment in outpatient surgery or surgical centers. Some surgical technicians can specialize in one area, such as cardiology, and work in that particular area. Specialization required that the surgical tech is certified. Surgical technologists may also decide to work outside of the patient care realm. This can mean working with sterile supply services for hospitals or perhaps for insurance companies.

The Importance of Surgical Tech Certification

Obtaining certification, as well as training, is a crucial part of embarking on a career as a surgical technician. While it may be possible to become hired as a surgical tech without being certified, it’s far less likely. It also means that you are less likely to advance in your career. The AS, Association of Surgical Technologists, highly recommends that all surgical technicians become certified.

The reason that certification is recommended is that it shows commitment to the field. You meet the standards of the field and employers see that right away. Not to mention that is results in higher initial pay and also higher pay as you become promoted. When employers are evaluating potential employees side by side, the one that has taken the time to become certified is always going to be a more attractive option.

Because certification is voluntary, the choice to become certified exhibits pride in the profession, an interest in professional growth, the desire to be recognized for mastery of scientific principles, as well as an ongoing commitment to quality. Once you become certified, you are able to use the initials CST after your title. Being able to put that after your title instantly means a salary bump.

Another benefit of becoming certified is that it’s possible to become a first assistant. This also leads to to increased salary and also responsibilities. Some duties of the first assistant include suturing and cauterizing wounds.

Agencies that Certify Surgical Techs

In order to get surgical tech certification, you must receive training in an accredited program. The national agency that certifies surgical technologists is the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Another agency that certifies surgical techs is the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). After passing the exam you are officially a certified surgical tech. While you will have learned what you need during your training, studying for the exam is beneficial.

How Long is it Valid?

Once you obtain surgical tech certification, it is valid for four years’ time.There are two different ways to renew your of a surgical tech certification. The options are to completing continue education credits or take the examination again.

In order to keep a continual and active certification, you must complete 60 hours of continuing education in surgical technology. This must be an accredited continuing education program. If you are currently employed, this is the option that you should choose. To ensure that you don’t have to take the test again, complete these credits a year before it expires. Make sure that the credits are on file for at least 6 months before it expires so that they are on file and you don’t have to worry about issues at the last-minute.

If you are not currently employed as a surgical technician and have let the certification lapse, it is still possible to become certified. As long as you have already completed the accredited training, simply retake the certifying exam. Becoming certified will really help those that have been out of the field and want to jump back in. It will make you more valuable to employers.

The field of surgical technology is one that is advancing fairly rapidly. There will always be people that need surgery. An ever-growing population means that there is job security in the field. If you have an interest in the health sciences field, this might be an option for you. Learning how to become certified as a surgery technician will be useful for you if you want to become an expert in the field and an asset to an employer.

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