What is Surgical Tech?

If you’re considering a career in the medical field, you may be wondering what is surgical tech? surgical techs are vital members of the surgical team, responsible for ensuring that the operating room is ready for surgery and that patients are prepped and ready for their procedures. Keep reading to learn more about what surgical techs do and what it takes to become one.

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What is a Surgical Tech?

Surgical techs are an important part of the surgical team. They are responsible for preparing the operating room and the equipment needed for the surgery. They also assist the surgeon during the surgery.

Job Description

A surgical technologist is an allied health professional who works alongside surgeons, registered nurses and other surgical personnel during operative procedures. Surgical technologists are trained in the care and safety of the surgical patient, operating room protocols, aseptic techniques and sterile instrumentation.

Some of the duties of a surgical technologist include:
-Preparing the operating room for surgery
-Selecting and assembling the instruments and supplies needed for a particular procedure
-Assisting the surgeon during the procedure
-Maintaining sterile conditions throughout the surgery
-Counting supplies and instruments before and after surgery
-Applying dressings to incisions


A surgical technologist, also called a scrub, scrubs in before an operation. Scrubbing in means fully washing one’s hands and arms and then putting on a clean surgical gown, mask, and gloves. The technologist is responsible for helping the surgeon by anticipating his or her needs during the operation.

The technologist may hand instruments to the surgeon during the operation or hold retractors (instruments that hold tissue out of the way). The technologist also may prepare the operating room by setting up sterile tables with all of the instruments needed for particular operations.


Surgical technologists, also called operating room technicians or scrub techs, are an important part of the surgical care team. They prepare operating rooms for surgery and sterilize surgical instruments. They also may handle tissues and other items during surgery.

How to become a Surgical Tech

Becoming a surgical tech requires completing an accredited educational program and passing a certification exam. This profession is perfect for those who are interested in the healthcare field but do not want to become a registered nurse or a doctor. Surgical techs work closely with surgeons and other medical personnel to ensure that surgical procedures are performed safely and correctly.


There are several ways to become a surgical technologist. Some people choose to enroll in a certificate or associate degree program at a community college or trade school, while others opt to earn a bachelor’s degree in surgical technology. There are also on-the-job training programs available although these are relatively rare.

No matter which route you choose, you’ll need to complete an accredited program and pass a certification exam before you can begin working as a surgical technologist. Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps:

Accredited Program: You’ll need to complete an accredited surgical technology program before you can sit for the certification exam. These programs typically take about two years to finish, although some accelerated programs can be completed in as little as 18 months.

Certification Exam: Once you’ve completed an accredited program, you’ll need to pass the national certification exam administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). This exam is called the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam, and it is offered year-round at testing centers across the country.


To work as a surgical technologist, you need to have completed an accredited surgical technology program. You also may need to be certified.

There are voluntary certification programs for surgical technologists offered by several organizations, including the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting and the National Healthcare Association. To be eligible for certification, you must have graduated from an accredited surgical technology program and completed a specified number of clinical rotations.

Some states regulate surgical technologists. If you plan to move or change jobs, check with your state’s regulating body to see if you need to be licensed or certified in that state.


While a degree isn’t always required to become a surgical tech, many employers prefer candidates who have completed an accredited program. Most accredited surgical technology programs last about nine months to two years, and lead to a certificate or associate degree.

Surgical technology programs are typically offered at community colleges, technical schools, and some hospitals. To be admitted into a surgical tech program, you usually need a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as a passing score on a basic skills test. Once you’re enrolled in a program, you’ll take courses in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, patient care, and pharmacology. You’ll also spend time in labs and clinical rotations, where you’ll get hands-on experience in the operating room.

In addition to formal training, most employers require surgical techs to have certification from the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist (LCC-ST). To be eligible for certification, you must graduate from an accredited surgical tech program and pass a written exam. You can also become certified through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), which offers exams at various levels of experience.

What are the benefits of being a Surgical Tech?

Surgical Tech can be a great career for those who are interested in the medical field but do not want to be a doctor or a nurse. Surgical Techs are an important part of the surgical team and help to ensure that the surgery goes smoothly. They also have the opportunity to work with a variety of patients.

Job satisfaction

There are many reasons why people choose to pursue a career in surgical technology. One of the most common reasons is job satisfaction. Surgical techs are able to make a difference in the lives of patients and their families. They play an important role in the operating room, and they often form strong bonds with the surgeons and nurses they work with.

Another reason why surgical technologists choose their career is because it offers a good work-life balance. Surgical techs typically work Monday through Friday, with some weekend and evening hours. This allows them to have evenings and weekends free to spend with their friends and family.

Surgical technologists also enjoy a variety of job opportunities. They can work in hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, research facilities, and even teaching positions. With so many options available, surgical technologists can find the perfect job to fit their lifestyle and career goals.

Good pay

One of the top reasons to become a surgical tech is the potential for good pay. The median annual salary for a surgical technologist was $47,300 in 2016, which is much higher than the median annual salary for all occupations, $37,040. Surgical techs in the top 10 percent earned more than $68,350, while those in the bottom 10 percent earned less than $33,020. Wages vary by employer, experience and geographic location.

Helping others

One of the great things about working as a surgical technologist is the knowledge that you are helping others. Every day, you will go to work and help heal people who are going through tough times. This is an incredibly rewarding experience, and it is something that you can be proud of.

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