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.
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, 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, 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.