Surgical Technician: Pathways, Salary, Skills, Opportunities

Unveiling the Role of a Surgical Technician

Surgical technicians assist in surgical operations by preparing operating rooms, sterilizing equipment, passing instruments to surgeons, and more. They play a crucial behind-the-scenes role in healthcare. Read on for an in-depth look at this fast-paced allied health career.

Surgical Technician: A healthcare professional who assists surgeons during operations by preparing instruments, maintaining a sterile environment, and monitoring patients' vital signs.

Surgical Technician Career Path

Most surgical techs complete a 6-24 month surgical technology certificate or associate's degree program. These provide operating room fundamentals and hands-on clinical training.

With this background, surgical techs can find employment in hospital operating rooms, outpatient surgery centers, and specialty clinics. Experienced techs may pursue advanced certifications or teaching roles later on.

Education and Skills Required

While on-the-job training is possible, most employers want candidates with formal surgical tech education and certification. Strong technical aptitude, dexterity, stamina, organization, and focus under pressure are essential.

Surgical Technician Salary Insights

Per the BLS, the median pay for surgical techs is $49,310 per year. Those new to the career earn around $35,000, while experienced surgical techs and first assistants can make over $60,000 annually.

Recommended Reading

  • Surgical Technology Principles and Practice - Leading textbook covering core knowledge and skills for surgical tech training programs.
  • Surgical Tech Exam Review - Provides content review and practice questions to help prepare for the CST certification exam.
  • Surgical Tech Success - Handbook covering best practices for advancing your surgical tech career through specialization and leadership roles.

Key Topics in Training Programs

Typical surgical technician curriculum includes:

  • Operating room environment and safety
  • Surgical equipment and instrumentation
  • Surgical procedures and techniques
  • Wound care and closure
  • Surgical site infections
  • Specimen handling
  • Patient positioning and draping

How to Become a Surgical Technician

To start a surgical tech career:

  • Earn a certificate or degree in surgical technology
  • Obtain the CST credential from the NBSTSA
  • Develop expertise in surgical equipment, instruments, and procedures
  • Build stamina, organization, and focus under pressure
  • Maintain up-to-date BLS certification
  • Apply for open surgical technician roles in healthcare facilities

Top Programs and Certifications

Highly regarded surgical technician programs include:

  • Penn Foster Surgical Technician Certificate
  • Carrington College Surgical Technology Associate Degree
  • Kaiser Permanente Surgical Technician Apprenticeship

The NBSTSA Certified Surgical Technologist certification is the primary credential sought by employers.

Job Search Strategies

When applying for surgical tech jobs, highlight your specialized skills, training, dexterity, grace under pressure, and dedication to safe, smooth surgical procedures. With dedication and proper credentials, you can begin a rewarding career as a surgical technician.