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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 Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Long Beach 3230 $57,190
Anaheim 3230 $57,190
Los Angeles 3230 $57,190
The Woodlands 3070 $47,860
Sugar Land 3070 $47,860
Houston 3070 $47,860
Fort Worth 2860 $46,770
Dallas 2860 $46,770
Arlington 2860 $46,770
Fort Lauderdale 2180 $44,140
Total Employment for Surgical Technologists - Top 5 Cities Nationwide
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Salaries for Surgical Technologists - Top 5 Cities Nationwide
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Total Employment and Salary for Professions Similar to Surgical Technologists

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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  • Associate of Occupational Science in Surgical Technology
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Ontario
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  • Degree - Surgical Technology
  • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
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Bakersfield
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  • Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
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  • 3 campuses in Southern California.
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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.

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Vista
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  • A.S. - Healthcare Information Technology
  • Offers special tuition pricing for Veterans, Active Duty Military and spouses/qualifying dependents of all Active Duty, National Guard and Reserves.
  • Works closely with an advisory board from the medical community to ensure that their curriculum, equipment and instruction are current.
  • Allows students to complete assignments on the go with its Blackboard Learn mobile app.
  • Gives online students live student support for technical or course questions.
  • Has campus locations in Florida as well as online learning programs.
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  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

Since 1888, The University of Scranton has grounded its education in Catholic and Jesuit principles based on intellectual growth and integrity, all of which shape the online master’s and certificate programs. You can choose one of five graduate degree programs from a selective institution ranked among the Top 10 Universities in the North and Top 20 Best Value Schools by U.S. News & World Report.

 

The online, master’s degree curriculum is taught by highly credentialed faculty and reflects the same rigorous academic standards as the on-campus programs. Nearly all of The University of Scranton’s instructional faculty hold doctoral or other terminal degrees in their fields – so you can excel in yours.

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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).
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  • AA - Healthcare Information Technology
Fremont College traces its roots to Platt College’s founding in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1879, and the Southern California branch campus was established in 1986. The most significant evolution of the College started when its third CEO, Dr. Sabrina Kay, assumed leadership in 2007. Fremont College became an innovative center adopting the framework of Work-Based Learning Leadership at the Wharton School and Dr. Kay’s thesis on improved learning through practice and collaboration.

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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