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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 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 550 $35,060
Birmingham 550 $35,060
Mobile 200 $33,610
Montgomery 100 $31,250
Dothan 80 $31,220
Tuscaloosa 70 $35,290
Oxford 50 $31,070
Anniston 50 $31,070
Jacksonville 50 $31,070
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 140 $53,880
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mesa 1540 $49,810
Scottsdale 1540 $49,810
Phoenix 1540 $49,810
Tucson 400 $46,960
Yuma 50 $44,990
Lake Havasu City 50 $47,360
Kingman 50 $47,360
Flagstaff 40 $43,900
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 240 $43,320
North Little Rock 240 $43,320
Little Rock 240 $43,320
Jonesboro 70 $31,230
Hot Springs N/A $39,610
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Long Beach 3420 $56,720
Anaheim 3420 $56,720
Los Angeles 3420 $56,720
Hayward 1080 $72,440
Oakland 1080 $72,440
San Francisco 1080 $72,440
Carlsbad 750 $55,000
San Diego 750 $55,000
Sunnyvale 730 $65,340
Santa Clara 730 $65,340
San Jose 730 $65,340
Riverside 700 $52,080
San Bernardino 700 $52,080
Ontario 700 $52,080
Arden 610 $62,840
Arcade 610 $62,840
Sacramento 610 $62,840
Roseville 610 $62,840
Fresno 240 $58,380
Oxnard 180 $53,890
Ventura 180 $53,890
Thousand Oaks 180 $53,890
Bakersfield 140 $53,700
Santa Barbara 130 $52,570
Santa Maria 130 $52,570
Modesto 130 $65,860
Paso Robles 120 $44,420
San Luis Obispo 120 $44,420
Arroyo Grande 120 $44,420
Chico 100 $66,830
Lodi 90 $64,520
Stockton 90 $64,520
Visalia 80 $50,430
Porterville 80 $50,430
Salinas 80 $54,980
Redding 70 $59,680
Watsonville 60 $55,440
Santa Cruz 60 $55,440
Vallejo 60 $69,000
Fairfield 60 $69,000
Madera 50 $47,890
Napa 30 $63,010
Santa Rosa N/A $50,170
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Denver 780 $47,660
Aurora 780 $47,660
Lakewood 780 $47,660
Colorado Springs 140 $46,230
Boulder 130 $59,040
Fort Collins 80 $50,630
Grand Junction 70 $49,440
Greeley N/A $48,040
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hartford 210 $56,850
East Hartford 210 $56,850
West Hartford 210 $56,850
Stamford 200 $51,520
Bridgeport 200 $51,520
Norwalk 200 $51,520
New Haven N/A $49,140
     
Metro Area (Delaware) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dover 50 $44,430
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Miami 2070 $42,920
West Palm Beach 2070 $42,920
Fort Lauderdale 2070 $42,920
Tampa 1060 $41,480
St. Petersburg 1060 $41,480
Clearwater 1060 $41,480
Kissimmee 670 $40,430
Orlando 670 $40,430
Sanford 670 $40,430
Jacksonville 610 $38,680
Fort Myers 280 $37,980
Cape Coral 280 $37,980
Gainesville 250 $35,800
North Port 240 $41,330
Sarasota 240 $41,330
Bradenton 240 $41,330
Port St. Lucie 180 $40,630
Deltona 170 $37,160
Daytona Beach 170 $37,160
Ormond Beach 170 $37,160
Tallahassee 160 $39,670
Palm Bay 140 $37,250
Titusville 140 $37,250
Melbourne 140 $37,250
Winter Haven 140 $40,270
Lakeland 140 $40,270
Brent 130 $40,270
Ferry Pass 130 $40,270
Pensacola 130 $40,270
Panama City 100 $37,200
Fort Walton Beach 70 $40,420
Crestview 70 $40,420
Destin 70 $40,420
Ocala 60 $40,700
Immokalee 60 $43,090
Marco Island 60 $43,090
Naples 60 $43,090
Punta Gorda 50 $41,330
Vero Beach 40 $38,000
Sebastian 40 $38,000
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sandy Springs 1640 $41,400
Atlanta 1640 $41,400
Roswell 1640 $41,400
Savannah 170 $36,060
Gainesville 150 $35,790
Clarke County 100 $41,010
Athens 100 $41,010
Rome 70 $37,580
Valdosta 40 $33,180
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 320 $54,910
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 310 $43,170
Coeur d'Alene 90 $42,660
Pocatello 80 $36,250
Idaho Falls 50 $46,480
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Peoria 120 $36,950
Bloomington 70 $39,250
Carbondale 60 $38,840
Marion 60 $38,840
Champaign 60 $42,020
Urbana 60 $42,020
Springfield N/A $41,080
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Carmel 930 $42,820
Anderson 930 $42,820
Indianapolis 930 $42,820
Fort Wayne 280 $39,180
Terre Haute 120 $45,200
West Lafayette 70 $38,560
Lafayette 70 $38,560
Elkhart 50 $42,030
Goshen 50 $42,030
La Porte 50 $42,090
Michigan City 50 $42,090
Columbus 30 $42,780
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Des Moines 170 $41,630
West Des Moines 170 $41,630
Dubuque 50 $37,740
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 250 $36,370
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 290 $36,620
Lexington 290 $36,620
Bowling Green 120 $34,380
Owensboro 70 $37,620
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 630 $40,030
New Orleans 630 $40,030
Baton Rouge 310 $39,150
Bossier City 210 $32,690
Shreveport 210 $32,690
Lafayette 180 $35,380
Monroe 130 $41,730
Lake Charles 110 $38,170
Alexandria 100 $39,750
Hammond 70 $37,800
Houma 40 $41,720
Thibodaux 40 $41,720
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland 160 $42,140
Portland 160 $42,140
Auburn 70 $42,050
Lewiston 70 $42,050
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 1210 $49,920
Columbia 1210 $49,920
Baltimore 1210 $49,920
     
Metro Area (Massachusetts) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Barnstable Town 150 $56,370
Pittsfield N/A $49,800
Gardner N/A $52,460
Leominster N/A $52,460
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dearborn 1460 $44,060
Detroit 1460 $44,060
Warren 1460 $44,060
Wyoming 530 $41,340
Grand Rapids 530 $41,340
Ann Arbor 250 $36,210
East Lansing 150 $47,420
Lansing 150 $47,420
Flint 120 $43,280
Kalamazoo 110 $45,000
Portage 110 $45,000
Muskegon 70 $42,080
Bay City 50 $38,220
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 330 $50,760
St. Cloud 90 $46,660
North Mankato N/A $48,770
Mankato N/A $48,770
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 380 $39,700
Gulfport 120 $41,090
Pascagoula 120 $41,090
Biloxi 120 $41,090
Hattiesburg 110 $38,460
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 220 $37,890
Joplin 40 $40,250
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 100 $38,480
Missoula 100 $48,300
Great Falls 40 $40,700
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 160 $41,110
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 580 $63,340
Henderson 580 $63,340
Las Vegas 580 $63,340
Reno 190 $56,180
     
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 70 $50,980
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 100 $43,590
Hammonton 70 $53,050
Atlantic City 70 $53,050
Bridgeton 40 $52,120
Vineland 40 $52,120
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 190 $45,300
Las Cruces 70 $33,090
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Niagara Falls 390 $52,640
Buffalo 390 $52,640
Cheektowaga 390 $52,640
Rochester 290 $38,290
Albany 270 $37,210
Troy 270 $37,210
Schenectady 270 $37,210
Syracuse 200 $46,880
Rome 70 $45,140
Utica 70 $45,140
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 330 $42,820
Chapel Hill 250 $43,880
Durham 250 $43,880
Wilmington 150 $34,800
Hickory 140 $38,220
Morganton 140 $38,220
Lenoir 140 $38,220
Greenville 130 $36,820
Fayetteville 130 $41,770
Asheville 50 $38,370
Rocky Mount 30 $38,190
New Bern 30 $40,920
Salem N/A $39,880
Winston N/A $39,880
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 120 $38,000
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Elyria 1060 $39,260
Cleveland 1060 $39,260
Columbus 650 $40,520
Dayton 260 $42,590
Toledo 230 $46,120
Akron 170 $43,020
Canton 130 $39,430
Massillon 130 $39,430
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 610 $39,630
Tulsa 410 $36,680
Lawton 50 $30,170
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Eugene 130 $51,730
Medford 110 $44,820
Redmond 70 $46,340
Bend 70 $46,340
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 820 $38,340
Carlisle 160 $44,040
Harrisburg 160 $44,040
Wilkes 150 $40,260
Barre 150 $40,260
Hazleton 150 $40,260
Scranton 150 $40,260
Reading 140 $40,330
Hanover 130 $43,120
York 130 $43,120
Lancaster 110 $43,490
Johnstown 110 $44,360
Berwick 100 $43,500
Bloomsburg 100 $43,500
Erie 90 $32,910
Waynesboro 60 $47,520
Chambersburg 60 $47,520
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 730 $19,160
Carolina 730 $19,160
San Juan 730 $19,160
Ponce 90 $17,710
Mayag´┐Żez 70 $17,700
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 390 $36,500
Mauldin 390 $36,500
Greenville 390 $36,500
Columbia 350 $35,880
Charleston 250 $38,970
North Charleston 250 $38,970
Florence 210 $39,360
Spartanburg 80 $36,550
Bluffton 50 $38,810
Hilton Head Island 50 $38,810
Beaufort 50 $38,810
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rapid City 120 $42,110
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 760 $40,740
Davidson 760 $40,740
Murfreesboro 760 $40,740
Nashville 760 $40,740
Knoxville 410 $36,580
Jackson 110 $34,200
Johnson City 90 $37,570
Morristown 30 $38,570
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Worth 2900 $45,840
Arlington 2900 $45,840
Dallas 2900 $45,840
The Woodlands 2580 $46,830
Sugar Land 2580 $46,830
Houston 2580 $46,830
San Antonio 950 $39,340
New Braunfels 950 $39,340
Austin 570 $44,450
Round Rock 570 $44,450
Temple 270 $43,710
Killeen 270 $43,710
Lubbock 230 $38,270
El Paso 200 $42,280
Edinburg 180 $45,120
McAllen 180 $45,120
Mission 180 $45,120
Corpus Christi 170 $46,000
Tyler 140 $36,890
Amarillo 140 $38,150
Brownsville 140 $47,480
Harlingen 140 $47,480
Denison 110 $38,700
Sherman 110 $38,700
Port Arthur 100 $48,040
Beaumont 100 $48,040
Odessa 100 $52,200
Wichita Falls 90 $37,510
Abilene 50 $40,580
Laredo 50 $44,890
Midland 30 $44,030
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 630 $38,650
Provo 190 $37,150
Orem 190 $37,150
Ogden 160 $35,870
Clearfield 160 $35,870
St. George N/A $37,920
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 560 $43,660
Roanoke 170 $37,490
Radford 60 $35,030
Christiansburg 60 $35,030
Blacksburg 60 $35,030
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 1170 $54,090
Seattle 1170 $54,090
Tacoma 1170 $54,090
Spokane 260 $51,900
Spokane Valley 260 $51,900
Yakima 70 $47,680
Richland 50 $52,370
Kennewick 50 $52,370
Wenatchee 40 $44,270
Tumwater 40 $53,520
Olympia 40 $53,520
Bremerton 30 $52,400
Silverdale 30 $52,400
Bellingham N/A $51,120
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 110 $35,980
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Waukesha 820 $56,160
West Allis 820 $56,160
Milwaukee 820 $56,160
Madison 230 $49,550
Green Bay 190 $46,490
Eau Claire 130 $50,580
Wausau 120 $44,860
Appleton 110 $49,070
Janesville 60 $43,640
Beloit 60 $43,640
Sheboygan 40 $47,210
     
Metro Area (Wyoming) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Casper 40 $40,330
Cheyenne 30 $48,770

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.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

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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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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