How to Become a Surgical Tech in 5 Steps

A surgical tech career offers good job prospects, a median salary of over $40,000, and the ability to make a difference in patients’ lives. Here’s how to become a surgical tech in five steps.

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Introduction

surgical techs are an essential part of the operating room team, working alongside surgeons, anesthesiologists, and registered nurses to ensure that surgical procedures are performed safely and effectively. If you’re interested in a career in surgery, becoming a surgical tech may be the perfect fit for you. Here’s how you can become a surgical tech in just five steps.

1. Earn a high school diploma or equivalent
2. Complete an accredited surgical technology program
3. Pass the national certification exam
4. Obtain state licensure (if required)
5. Find employment as a surgical tech

Step One: Research

Becoming a surgical tech requires completing an accredited certification or training program and passing a state- administered exam. The first step toward becoming a surgical tech is, therefore, to research the different types of programs available and find one that fits your needs.

There are certificate, diploma, and degree programs available, with most taking between nine months and two years to complete. Some hospitals also offer on-the-job training programs lasting up to two years. During your research phase, you should also take the time to learn about the different surgical specialties as this will play a role in choosing the right program for you.

Step Two: Complete an accredited surgical technology program

If you already have a degree in another field, you may be able to complete a post-secondary surgical technology program in as little as one year. Most programs, however, last two years or longer. Many community colleges, technical institutes and even some hospitals offer accredited surgical technology programs.

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) are two organizations that accredit surgical technology programs. To receive accreditation, a program must meet specific standards related to curriculum and instructors, among other things.

Most accredited surgical technology programs include both classroom and laboratory instruction, as well as clinical experience. Classroom instruction typically covers topics such as medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology and medical ethics. Laboratory instruction gives students the opportunity to practice skills such as sterilization techniques, wound closure and suturing. Clinical experience gives students the chance to apply what they have learned in a real-world setting, under the supervision of a licensed surgeon.

Step Three: Pass the Certification Exam

You will need to pass a certification exam in order to become a surgical technologist. The most common exam is the Certification Examination for Surgical Technologists, administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. To be eligible to take the exam, you must have graduated from an accredited surgical technology program or have completed a military training program in surgical technology.

The examination consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. To pass, you must correct at least 70 percent of the questions. You will have three hours to complete the exam.

Step Four: Start Your Career

After completing a surgical tech program and passing the NBSTSA exam, you are now eligible to start your career as a surgical technologist. There are many ways to find employment, including but not limited to:

– Applying directly to hospitals or clinics
– Going through a staffing agency specializing in surgical tech positions
– Searching online job boards such as Indeed or Careerbuilder
– Checking with your local state employment office

Step Five: Maintain Your Certification

In order to keep your certification active, you will need to complete continuing education credits (CECs). The number of CECs required varies by state, but typically ranges from 10-30 per year. You can complete your CECs by taking courses or attending seminars related to surgical technology. You can also often earn CECs by serving as a preceptor for surgical tech students or by authoring articles related to the field.

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