How to Become a Certified Surgical Tech

Find out how to become a certified surgical technologist. Learn about the education and training requirements, and get information on the certified surgical tech exam.

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Introduction

If you want to become a certified surgical tech, there are a few things you need to do. First, you’ll need to complete an accredited surgical technology program. After you graduate, you’ll then need to pass the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

Once you become certified, you’ll need to renew your certification every four years by either taking the recertification exam or completing continuing education credits. Keep reading to learn more about how to become a certified surgical technologist.

What is a Surgical Tech?

A surgical technologist, also called a scrubs or operating room (OR) tech, is an allied health professional who works as part of a surgical team in the operating room. Surgical technologists generally have completed a postsecondary educational program in surgical technology and are credentialed by passing a national certification exam. Some states regulate surgical technologists.

Surgical technologists work under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses or licensed practical nurses. They prepare operating rooms for surgery, sterilize equipment and make sure that each patient is ready for surgery. They also help to transport patients to and from the operating room and may assist with other medical procedures as needed.

What are the Responsibilities of a Surgical Tech?

A surgical technologist, also called a scrub, surgical technician, operating room (OR) technician or scrub tech, is an allied health professional working as a member of the surgical team and functioning under the supervision of a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse or physician. Surgical technologists work mainly in surgical services departments in hospitals but may also be found in outpatient surgery centers, physician offices and dental offices.

The medical and technical skills of surgical technologists are frequently used outside the operating room as well. For example, many are employed as IV therapy and phlebotomy technicians, medical equipment sterilizers, EKG technicians and medical lab assistants. Many surgical technologists find employment teaching other medical personnel or students studying to become allied health professionals.

What are the Education and Training Requirements to Become a Surgical Tech?

Most surgical tech programs are completed in anywhere from 9 months to 2 years, although some training programs may take up to 4 years to complete. A high school diploma or GED is usually required for admission into a surgical tech program.

There are several different types of surgical tech programs available, including certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs. Many community colleges and technical schools offer surgical tech programs, although some hospitals also offer training programs. In most cases, certification is not required in order to become a surgical tech, although it may be beneficial in terms of job prospects and salary potential surgical techs who are certified may have an advantage when it comes to finding a job and may also earn a higher salary than those who are not certified.

There are multiple certification bodies that offer certification for surgical techs including the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) and the American Board of Surgical Technology (ABST). To be eligible for certification, candidates must have graduated from an accredited surgical tech program and must have passed a criminal background check. Certification must be renewed every 4 years and requires the completion of continuing education credits.

What are the Certification and Licensure Requirements to Become a Surgical Tech?

In order to become a certified surgical technologist, also called a scrub tech, you must attend an accredited surgical technology program and earn a certificate or diploma. Some programs may offer an associate’s degree in surgical technology. Once you have completed the educational requirements, you must then pass the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

You will then need to renew your certification every four years by completing continuing education credits and paying a fee. Some states also have licensure requirements for surgical technologists. Although licensure is not required in all states, it may be necessary if you plan on working in a state that does require it. The requirements for licensure vary from state to state, but generally include completing an accredited surgical technology program and passing the CST exam.

What are the Job Prospects for Surgical Techs?

In May of 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual salary for surgical techs was $47,300 per year, or $22.77 per hour. The lowest 10 percent of earners made less than $33,040 annually, while the highest 10 percent made more than $67,600 per year. Most techs worked in hospitals; however, those employed in physicians’ offices and outpatient care centers earned the highest salaries, at a median of $53,090 and $51,470 per year, respectively.

What is the Salary for a Surgical Tech?

The average salary for a surgical tech is $45,000 per year.

What are the Top Surgical Tech Programs?

There are many different types of surgical tech programs available, each with its own specific requirements. However, some surgical tech programs stand out from the rest. The following are some of the top surgical tech programs in the country:

-The Surgical Technology program at Santa Ana College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The program requires students to complete a total of 72 credit hours, with 45 of those credit hours devoted specifically to surgical technology courses. Students in the program must also complete a clinical externship before they can graduate.

-The Surgical Technology program at El Paso Community College is accredited by the CAAHEP as well. The program requires students to complete a total of 67 credit hours, with 41 of those credit hours devoted specifically to surgical technology courses.clinical externship is also required for graduation.

-The Surgical Technology program at Tulsa Community College is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS). The program requires students to complete a total of 71 credit hours, with 51 of those credit hours devoted specifically to surgical technology courses. Students in the program must also complete a clinical externship before they can graduate.

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