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Surgical technologists assist surgeons and other health care professionals in the operating room, handing them needed surgical tools and making sure that all needed equipment is working correctly. They also help to prepare the operating room beforehand and to clean up afterward, meaning that their scope of responsibilities can extend from the beginning to the end of surgery. Because of this, they need to have many different types of skills, not just about how different types of equipment function, but also how to provide optimal patient care.

Responsibilities of Surgical Technologists

Surgical technologists have a number of duties that they perform on the job and that they need to be able to carry out proficiently. In general, surgical technologists should be able to:

  • Prepare patients and operating rooms for surgery
  • Ensure all needed equipment is in the room and the appropriate tools have been sterilized
  • Help the medical team dress for surgery
  • Supply physicians and other healthcare providers with tools and equipment during surgery
  • Make sure that all equipment is working appropriately
  • Clean up after surgery, making sure equipment is put away and specimens are properly prepared
  • Take a patient to a recovery room

Surgical Technician Job Characteristics

Because surgical technologists and technicians spend much of their time in the operating room, they need to be able to function effectively as part of a team. They should be able to perform the following tasks:

  • Work in close proximity with patients, registered nurses and surgeons
  • Do their work in small spaces and stand or stay in awkward positions
  • Complete shifts that last longer than eight hours
  • Be at work or on call during the evenings or weekends, and even holidays
  • Lift and move equipment, and transport patients
  • They also need to wear scrubs while they are in the operating room

The skills that help make a good surgical technologist include:

  • Attention to detail
  • Accuracy
  • Manual dexterity
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • Effective communication
  • Physical stamina

Surgical Technologist Employment Outlook

The BLS reports the following information about surgical technologists nationwide:

  • Total Employed: 98,450 in 2014
  • Job Growth: 30% growth, from 2012 to 2022
  • Average Salary: $45,010 in 2014

Surgical technologists who have completed an accredited education program may find some of the best job opportunities, according to the BLS. While overall demand is expected to be faster than average from 2012 to 2022, those working in Nevada, Washington D.C., California, Hawaii and Connecticut had the highest mean annual wages, all above $54,000, in 2014.

Surgical Tech Schools, Certification and Licensing

A diploma, certificate or associate degree is typically necessary to enter the surgical technology field. Surgical tech training can be found through hospitals and healthcare facilities, vocational schools and community colleges. Some universities also may provide training. Programs can vary in length from several months to two years and enable students to learn about:

  • Sterilization
  • The care of patients
  • Preventing infection
  • Anatomy, biology, pharmacology and more

Certification can be sought through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting with its Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential. The National Center for Competency Testing also offers a Tech in Surgery-Certified (NCCT) designation. Passing an exam and graduating from an accredited program often are needed as part of certification. However, there also are other paths to certification.

Licensing is generally not required, although some states have set regulations regarding the employment of surgical technologists, according to the BLS. These requirements can vary by state, and typically require graduating from an accredited program, usually by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), and having certification.

Major Employers

  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Physician offices
  • Ambulatory centers
  • Clinics

Resources for Surgical Technologists

  • American Board of Surgical Assistants
  • Association of Surgical Technologists
  • National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting
  • National Surgical Assistant Association
  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools

Sources:

  1. Surgical Technologists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, May 2014. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/surgical-technologists.htm#tab-1
  2. Surgical Technologists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292055.htm

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Surgical Technologists

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Surgical Technologists jobs , as of 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 630 $36,050
Birmingham 630 $36,050
Mobile 240 $32,050
Montgomery 140 $34,300
Dothan 80 $34,350
Oxford 70 $32,060
Anniston 70 $32,060
Jacksonville 70 $32,060
Muscle Shoals 60 $34,270
Florence 60 $34,270
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 70 $54,900
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 1540 $52,320
Mesa 1540 $52,320
Phoenix 1540 $52,320
Tucson 370 $48,130
Lake Havasu City 50 $46,440
Kingman 50 $46,440
Flagstaff N/A $46,890
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 350 $40,630
North Little Rock 350 $40,630
Little Rock 350 $40,630
Jonesboro 100 $33,350
Hot Springs 50 $36,810
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 3230 $57,190
Long Beach 3230 $57,190
Los Angeles 3230 $57,190
San Francisco 1380 $71,160
Hayward 1380 $71,160
Oakland 1380 $71,160
Carlsbad 900 $55,210
San Diego 900 $55,210
San Bernardino 800 $49,770
Riverside 800 $49,770
Ontario 800 $49,770
Arcade 780 $61,930
Sacramento 780 $61,930
Arden 780 $61,930
Roseville 780 $61,930
San Jose 630 $66,970
Santa Clara 630 $66,970
Sunnyvale 630 $66,970
Bakersfield 270 $54,360
Oxnard 240 $56,360
Thousand Oaks 240 $56,360
Ventura 240 $56,360
Fresno 210 $57,600
Santa Rosa 160 $55,910
Stockton 140 $57,970
Lodi 140 $57,970
Modesto 100 $56,330
Santa Maria 100 $57,710
Santa Barbara 100 $57,710
Paso Robles 80 $49,620
Arroyo Grande 80 $49,620
San Luis Obispo 80 $49,620
Chico 70 $53,210
Salinas 70 $66,220
Madera 50 $48,350
Watsonville 50 $57,370
Santa Cruz 50 $57,370
Redding 50 $67,230
Fairfield 40 $72,790
Vallejo 40 $72,790
Visalia N/A $56,790
Porterville N/A $56,790
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 900 $48,280
Denver 900 $48,280
Aurora 900 $48,280
Colorado Springs 120 $47,790
Boulder 110 $52,010
Fort Collins 90 $51,500
Grand Junction 90 $52,040
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Hartford 340 $59,290
East Hartford 340 $59,290
Hartford 340 $59,290
Norwalk 180 $49,340
Stamford 180 $49,340
Bridgeport 180 $49,340
     
Metro Area (Delaware) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dover 50 $45,580
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Lauderdale 2180 $44,140
West Palm Beach 2180 $44,140
Miami 2180 $44,140
Tampa 1040 $43,160
Clearwater 1040 $43,160
St. Petersburg 1040 $43,160
Orlando 750 $41,370
Sanford 750 $41,370
Kissimmee 750 $41,370
Jacksonville 650 $39,800
Cape Coral 410 $44,790
Fort Myers 410 $44,790
North Port 270 $41,070
Bradenton 270 $41,070
Sarasota 270 $41,070
Ormond Beach 180 $37,440
Deltona 180 $37,440
Daytona Beach 180 $37,440
Lakeland 180 $41,440
Winter Haven 180 $41,440
Gainesville 180 $41,520
Palm Bay 170 $38,030
Titusville 170 $38,030
Melbourne 170 $38,030
Tallahassee 160 $40,140
Ferry Pass 130 $39,800
Pensacola 130 $39,800
Brent 130 $39,800
Port St. Lucie 130 $42,230
Panama City 90 $38,070
Naples 70 $44,670
Marco Island 70 $44,670
Immokalee 70 $44,670
Fort Walton Beach 50 $41,690
Destin 50 $41,690
Crestview 50 $41,690
Sebastian 40 $38,170
Vero Beach 40 $38,170
Homosassa Springs 30 $41,180
Sebring 30 $43,290
Ocala N/A $43,520
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sandy Springs 1860 $43,910
Atlanta 1860 $43,910
Roswell 1860 $43,910
Gainesville 170 $36,480
Savannah 160 $37,690
Macon 160 $40,910
Clarke County 100 $39,660
Athens 100 $39,660
Albany 70 $38,580
Valdosta 50 $35,020
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 300 $48,680
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 260 $45,380
Coeur d'Alene 100 $44,320
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Peoria 130 $42,120
Rockford 110 $39,110
Springfield 100 $42,640
Bloomington 80 $39,210
Marion 60 $38,820
Carbondale 60 $38,820
Urbana 60 $42,610
Champaign 60 $42,610
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 890 $43,770
Carmel 890 $43,770
Indianapolis 890 $43,770
Fort Wayne 290 $39,700
Lafayette 160 $40,400
West Lafayette 160 $40,400
Terre Haute 110 $46,950
Kokomo 60 $40,820
Goshen 60 $43,360
Elkhart 60 $43,360
Michigan City 50 $38,590
La Porte 50 $38,590
Columbus N/A $43,550
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Des Moines 120 $43,360
West Des Moines 120 $43,360
Dubuque 50 $36,990
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 240 $37,210
Topeka 90 $39,550
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 280 $39,650
Lexington 280 $39,650
Bowling Green 160 $35,820
Owensboro 70 $38,460
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 740 $39,880
New Orleans 740 $39,880
Baton Rouge 290 $39,940
Shreveport 230 $33,170
Bossier City 230 $33,170
Lafayette 190 $38,260
Monroe 130 $41,510
Lake Charles 110 $38,900
Alexandria 90 $39,600
Hammond 70 $33,260
Thibodaux 60 $39,900
Houma 60 $39,900
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 1280 $49,280
Columbia 1280 $49,280
Baltimore 1280 $49,280
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Bedford 180 $34,690
Barnstable Town 180 $57,260
Leominster N/A $56,040
Gardner N/A $56,040
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Warren 1470 $44,420
Detroit 1470 $44,420
Dearborn 1470 $44,420
Wyoming 540 $41,130
Grand Rapids 540 $41,130
Ann Arbor 210 $42,580
Saginaw 120 $38,610
Kalamazoo 110 $44,760
Portage 110 $44,760
Flint 110 $47,620
Muskegon 80 $41,780
Bay City 60 $37,300
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 350 $52,020
St. Cloud 90 $49,370
Mankato N/A $50,600
North Mankato N/A $50,600
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 480 $39,910
Pascagoula 150 $38,610
Biloxi 150 $38,610
Gulfport 150 $38,610
Hattiesburg N/A $31,790
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 250 $38,920
Joplin 50 $39,760
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 100 $39,060
Missoula 100 $49,040
Great Falls 40 $39,420
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 160 $43,040
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 630 $63,890
Henderson 630 $63,890
Las Vegas 630 $63,890
Reno 220 $57,010
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 70 $49,480
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hammonton 80 $51,030
Atlantic City 80 $51,030
Trenton 70 $44,370
Bridgeton N/A $48,280
Vineland N/A $48,280
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 220 $44,660
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Niagara Falls 430 $52,690
Buffalo 430 $52,690
Cheektowaga 430 $52,690
Rochester 340 $37,540
Albany 290 $37,950
Troy 290 $37,950
Schenectady 290 $37,950
Syracuse 180 $47,180
Rome 70 $45,410
Utica 70 $45,410
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 320 $43,840
Chapel Hill 250 $46,000
Durham 250 $46,000
Winston 220 $40,800
Salem 220 $40,800
Morganton 150 $38,530
Lenoir 150 $38,530
Hickory 150 $38,530
High Point 140 $42,400
Greensboro 140 $42,400
Wilmington 120 $37,490
Fayetteville 110 $39,380
Asheville 60 $39,650
New Bern 40 $38,720
Rocky Mount 30 $38,980
Goldsboro 30 $41,230
Greenville N/A $38,810
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 80 $40,830
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cleveland 1160 $41,330
Elyria 1160 $41,330
Columbus 620 $40,270
Dayton 310 $46,880
Toledo 220 $44,160
Akron 190 $41,930
Massillon 100 $38,750
Canton 100 $38,750
Lima 50 $38,990
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 750 $40,170
Tulsa 400 $37,880
Lawton 50 $34,900
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bend 120 $46,460
Redmond 120 $46,460
Salem 120 $48,020
Eugene 110 $52,840
Medford 70 $46,810
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 800 $38,820
Harrisburg 210 $40,510
Carlisle 210 $40,510
Barre 160 $40,640
Hazleton 160 $40,640
Wilkes 160 $40,640
Scranton 160 $40,640
Hanover 130 $43,050
York 130 $43,050
Lancaster 130 $43,270
Johnstown 100 $44,380
Erie 70 $33,680
Waynesboro 40 $52,070
Chambersburg 40 $52,070
Reading N/A $43,970
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 760 $19,160
Carolina 760 $19,160
San Juan 760 $19,160
Ponce 100 $17,820
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mauldin 380 $37,000
Greenville 380 $37,000
Anderson 380 $37,000
Columbia 320 $38,230
Charleston 250 $38,590
North Charleston 250 $38,590
Florence 220 $39,590
Spartanburg 70 $37,170
Beaufort 60 $38,130
Bluffton 60 $38,130
Hilton Head Island 60 $38,130
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sioux Falls 260 $39,580
Rapid City 110 $35,900
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Murfreesboro 770 $40,940
Franklin 770 $40,940
Davidson 770 $40,940
Nashville 770 $40,940
Knoxville 510 $38,020
Jackson 120 N/A
Johnson City 120 $38,280
Morristown 60 $41,650
Cleveland 50 $43,200
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
The Woodlands 3070 $47,860
Houston 3070 $47,860
Sugar Land 3070 $47,860
Arlington 2860 $46,770
Dallas 2860 $46,770
Fort Worth 2860 $46,770
New Braunfels 1170 $39,060
San Antonio 1170 $39,060
Austin 810 $44,390
Round Rock 810 $44,390
Killeen 260 $44,010
Temple 260 $44,010
El Paso 230 $42,380
Lubbock 210 $38,620
Edinburg 200 $48,140
McAllen 200 $48,140
Mission 200 $48,140
Tyler 180 $40,190
Beaumont 160 $33,860
Port Arthur 160 $33,860
Amarillo 150 $38,810
Waco 110 $41,280
Harlingen 110 $48,610
Brownsville 110 $48,610
Odessa 110 $52,250
Abilene 50 $40,050
Laredo 40 $46,050
Denison 40 $47,140
Sherman 40 $47,140
Victoria N/A $37,940
Corpus Christi N/A $44,070
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 540 $39,850
Orem 170 $39,630
Provo 170 $39,630
Ogden 160 $36,810
Clearfield 160 $36,810
St. George N/A $38,410
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 460 $43,890
Roanoke 210 $37,930
Charlottesville 200 $43,710
Radford 60 $34,210
Blacksburg 60 $34,210
Christiansburg 60 $34,210
Lynchburg 30 $35,560
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 1290 $55,960
Tacoma 1290 $55,960
Seattle 1290 $55,960
Spokane 270 $54,960
Spokane Valley 270 $54,960
Yakima 60 $49,300
Tumwater 60 $53,250
Olympia 60 $53,250
Kennewick 50 $53,690
Richland 50 $53,690
Wenatchee 40 $46,110
Bremerton 30 $52,830
Silverdale 30 $52,830
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Morgantown 180 N/A
Charleston 120 $37,350
Beckley N/A $32,760
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Allis 810 $58,470
Waukesha 810 $58,470
Milwaukee 810 $58,470
Madison 230 $52,700
Green Bay 180 $45,830
Eau Claire 160 $50,260
Wausau 130 $46,680
Appleton 90 $48,520
Oshkosh 80 $48,800
Neenah 80 $48,800
Janesville 60 $48,880
Beloit 60 $48,880
Racine 40 $50,160
Sheboygan 30 $48,230
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Casper 50 $39,130
Cheyenne N/A $49,410

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Surgical Technologists

To find out more about building a career as Surgical Technologists, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Surgical Technologists

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Hospital 64,030 71% $38,680
Medical Office 21,870 24% $38,690
Office Services And Staffing 1,890 2% $43,650
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Programs
  • Associate of Occupational Science in Surgical Technology
  • At American Career College, we provide hands-on training for students who are ready for change.
  • The diploma and associate programs offered at ACC can change the direction of your healthcare career.
  • 5 campus locations in Southern California and 13 programs in healthcare fields.
Programs
  • Degree - Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
  • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
  • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
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Bakersfield
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Programs
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
  • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
  • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
  • 3 campuses in Southern California.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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Anaheim
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  • X-Ray Technician/Back Office Medical Assistant

About Brightwood College

Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

About Education Corporation of America

Education Corporation of America's institutions broaden access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

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Vista
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  • Master of Science in Healthcare Informatics
  • Ranked among the 2015 Best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Designated as a 2014-2015 College of Distinction.
  • Average class size of 20, with a student teacher ratio of 10:1.
  • Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
  • Diverse campus life with over 80 student organizations, including Greek-letter societies and academic honor societies.
Programs
  • Specialization in Nursing Informatics (MSN)
  • Online Bachelor's programs include BBA, Criminal Justice, Psychology, IT, Healthcare Management & Public Health
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Programs
  • MSN Informatics Specialization

The University

With over 80 years of academic achievements, Jacksonville University is a traditional, longstanding institution consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's best colleges.

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Surgical Technologists.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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