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Working as a Surgical Technician

What Does a Surgical Technician Do

Surgical technologists, also called operating room technicians, assist in surgical operations. They prepare operating rooms, arrange equipment, and help doctors during surgeries.

Duties

Surgical technologists typically do the following:

  • Prepare operating rooms for surgery
  • Sterilize equipment and make sure that there are adequate supplies for surgery
  • Ready patients for surgery, such as by washing and disinfecting incision sites
  • Help surgeons during surgery by passing them instruments and other sterile supplies
  • Count supplies, such as sponges and instruments
  • Maintain a sterile environment

Surgical technologists work as members of a healthcare team alongside physicians and surgeons, registered nurses, and other healthcare workers.

Before an operation, surgical technologists prepare the operating room by setting up surgical instruments and equipment. They also prepare patients for surgery by washing and disinfecting incision sites, positioning the patients on the operating table, covering them with sterile drapes, and taking them to and from the operating room. Surgical technologists prepare sterile solutions and medications used in surgery and check that all surgical equipment is working properly. They help the surgical team put on sterile gowns and gloves.

During an operation, surgical technologists pass instruments and supplies to surgeons and first assistants. They also hold retractors, hold internal organs in place during the procedure, or set up robotic surgical equipment. Technologists also may handle specimens taken for laboratory analysis.

Once the operation is complete, surgical technologists may apply bandages and other dressings to the incision site. They may also help transfer patients to recovery rooms and restock operating rooms after a procedure.

Surgical first assistants have a hands-on role, directly assisting surgeons during a procedure. For instance, they may help to suction the incision site or suture a wound.

How To Become a Surgical Technician

Surgical technologists typically need a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree. Certification can be beneficial in finding a job. A small number of states regulate surgical technologists.

Education

Surgical technologists typically need postsecondary education. Many community colleges and vocational schools, as well as some universities and hospitals, have accredited programs in surgical technology. Programs range in length from several months to 2 years, and they grant a diploma, certificate, or associate’s degree upon completion. Admission typically requires a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Surgical technology education includes courses in anatomy, biology, medical terminology, pharmacology, and other topics. Surgical technologists are trained in the care and safety of patients, sterilization techniques, how to set up technical or robotic equipment, and preventing and controlling infections. In addition to classroom study, students also work in supervised clinical settings to gain hands-on experience.

First surgical assistants may complete a formal education program in surgical assisting. Others may work as a surgical technologist and receive additional on-the-job training before becoming a first assistant.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Surgical technologists must pay close attention to their work at all times. For example, they need to provide the correct sterile equipment for surgeons during an operation.

Dexterity. Surgical technologists should be comfortable working with their hands. They must be able to provide needed equipment quickly.

Integrity. Because they are trusted to provide sterile supplies and quality patient care during surgical procedures, surgical technologists must have integrity.

Physical stamina. Surgical technologists should be comfortable standing for extended periods.

Stress-management skills. Working in an operating room can be stressful. Surgical technologists should be able to work well under pressure while providing a high level of care.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification can be beneficial in finding a job. Surgical technologists may earn certification through credentialing organizations.

Certification through The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting allows the use of the title “Certified Surgical Technologist (CST).” Certification typically requires completing an accredited formal education program or military training program and passing an exam.

Certification through the National Center for Competency Testing allows the use of the title “Tech in Surgery - Certified (NCCT).” Applicants may qualify through formal education, military training, work experience, or other eligibility paths. All require documenting critical skills and passing an exam.

Both certifications require surgical technologists to complete continuing education to maintain their certification.

In addition, many jobs require technologists to become certified in CPR or basic life support, or both.

A small number of states have regulations governing the work of surgical technologists or surgical assistants, or both.

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, the National Commission for the Certification of Surgical Assistants, and the American Board of Surgical Assistants offer certification for surgical first assistants.

Advancement

Surgical technologists may choose to advance to other healthcare occupations, such as registered nurse. Technologists may also choose to become a postsecondary teacher of health specialties.

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Average Salary$42,398
Job Growth Rate9%

Surgical Technician Jobs

Surgical Technician Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Surgical Technician. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Surgical Technician Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Surgical Technician resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

Surgical Technician Career Paths

Top Careers Before Surgical Technician

Top Careers After Surgical Technician

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Average Salary for a Surgical Technician

Surgical Technicians in America make an average salary of $42,398 per year or $20 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $51,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $35,000 per year.
Average Salary
$42,398

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Salary Range44k - 63k$53k$53,197
Salary Range45k - 61k$53k$53,170
Salary Range44k - 62k$53k$52,951
Salary Range44k - 61k$52k$52,494
Salary Range44k - 61k$52k$52,105
Salary Range44k - 60k$52k$52,072
$40k
$63k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Certified Surgical Technician-CST
Certified Surgical Technician-CST
Careerstaff Unlimited
Careerstaff Unlimited
10/31/2020
10/31/2020
$62,61010/31/2020
$62,610
Surgical Technologist-Main Operating Room
Surgical Technologist-Main Operating Room
University of Iowa
University of Iowa
10/30/2020
10/30/2020
$42,31810/30/2020
$42,318
Certified Surgical Technician-CST-Acute Care
Certified Surgical Technician-CST-Acute Care
Careerstaff Unlimited
Careerstaff Unlimited
10/30/2020
10/30/2020
$81,39310/30/2020
$81,393
Certified Surgical Technologist CST ORT
Certified Surgical Technologist CST ORT
Cascade Health Services
Cascade Health Services
10/29/2020
10/29/2020
$62,61010/29/2020
$62,610
Surgical Technolgist (Neuro)
Surgical Technolgist (Neuro)
Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic
10/29/2020
10/29/2020
$51,42410/29/2020
$51,424
See More Recent Salaries

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Surgical Technician Demographics

Gender

female

69.5%

male

26.2%

unknown

4.3%

Ethnicity

White

59.9%

Hispanic or Latino

17.7%

Black or African American

13.0%

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

74.8%

French

4.5%

Russian

2.9%
See More Demographics

Surgical Technician Education

Majors

Nursing
15.2%

Degrees

Associate

41.9%

Certificate

19.0%

Bachelors

15.5%

Top Colleges for Surgical Technicians

1. University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT

Tuition and fees
$15,730
Enrollment
18,830

2. New York University

New York, NY

Tuition and fees
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

3. Inter American University of Puerto Rico Arecibo

Arecibo, PR

Tuition and fees
$5,872
Enrollment
3,553

4. Jefferson College of Health Sciences

Roanoke, VA

Tuition and fees
$26,886
Enrollment
774

5. Howard University

Washington, DC

Tuition and fees
$26,756
Enrollment
6,166

6. Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

Tuition and fees
$10,726
Enrollment
45,769

7. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

New Brunswick, NJ

Tuition and fees
$14,974
Enrollment
35,656

8. University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA

Tuition and fees
$19,080
Enrollment
19,127

9. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

Tuition and fees
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

10. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA

Tuition and fees
$18,454
Enrollment
40,108
See More Education Info

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Surgical Technician

Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Surgical Technician

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 14.5% of surgical technicians listed surgical procedures on their resume, but soft skills such as dexterity and physical stamina are important as well.

Best States For a Surgical Technician

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a surgical technician. The best states for people in this position are Montana, Alaska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. Surgical technicians make the most in Montana with an average salary of $56,888. Whereas in Alaska and South Dakota, they would average $56,655 and $54,505, respectively. While surgical technicians would only make an average of $54,438 in North Dakota, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. North Dakota

Total Surgical Technician Jobs:
87
Highest 10% Earn:
$72,000
Location Quotient:
2.24
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. South Dakota

Total Surgical Technician Jobs:
52
Highest 10% Earn:
$72,000
Location Quotient:
1.64
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Montana

Total Surgical Technician Jobs:
46
Highest 10% Earn:
$76,000
Location Quotient:
1.04
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
View Full List

Surgical Technician Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a surgical technician. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

At Zippia, we went through countless surgical technician resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Write a Surgical Technician Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless surgical technician resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

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Top Surgical Technician Employers

1. US Army
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$53,674
Surgical Technicians Hired: 
330+
2. U.S. Navy
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$53,690
Surgical Technicians Hired: 
251+
3. Kaiser Permanente
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$57,417
Surgical Technicians Hired: 
176+
4. St. Vincent Hospital
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$44,815
Surgical Technicians Hired: 
162+
5. St. Joseph Hospital
4.4
Avg. Salary: 
$43,747
Surgical Technicians Hired: 
162+
6. MERCY HOSPITAL OF JANESVILLE WISCONSIN
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$43,750
Surgical Technicians Hired: 
113+

Surgical Technician Videos

Recently Added Surgical Technician Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020