Surgical Technologists: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
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.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 12% (Faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Advancement
Surgical technologists may choose to advance to other healthcare occupations, such as registered nurse. Advancement to other healthcare occupations would usually require additional education, training, and/or certifications or licenses. A technologist may also choose to become a postsecondary teacher of health specialties.
Licenses/Certifications
Certification can be beneficial in finding a job. Surgical technologists may earn certification through credentialing organizations.
Median pay: How much do Surgical Technologists make?
$45,160 Annual Salary
$21.71 per hour

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

What do Surgical Technologists do?

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.

Careers for Surgical Technologists

  • CSTs
  • Certified surgical technologists
  • OR techs
  • Operating room technicians
  • Surgical first assistants
  • Surgical scrub technologists
  • Surgical technicians
  • TS-Cs

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