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How to Become a Surgical Tech

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How to Become a Surgical Tech

How to Become a Surgical Tech

A surgical technologist is a dynamic and crucial role within the healthcare field. If you are looking for a career in a fast-paced and challenging environment where each day is different from the next, then the role of a surgical technologist may be your calling.

In this guide, Soliant experts break down everything you need to know about how to become a surgical tech, including the steps in the career path, salary information, the skills you’ll need, and more!

Whether you are a prospective student exploring the field or an individual looking to make a career shift, get all the details of how to embark on a fulfilling and impactful career as a surgical technologist here.

What is a Surgical Technologist?

A surgical technologist, also known as a surgical tech, scrub tech, or operating room tech, is a healthcare professional who plays a crucial role in the operating room (OR) during surgical procedures. Their primary responsibility is to assist surgeons, nurses, and other members of the surgical team before, during, and after surgeries.

What Does a Surgical Tech Do?

Surgical technologists prepare the operating room ahead of surgery, arrange equipment to best assist the surgeons, and operate the proper technology tools before, during, and after the surgical procedure.

By preparing patients, equipment, and rooms for surgery, surgical techs are a major help to both the patients and the medical personnel involved. Other responsibilities of surgical techs might include:

  • Sterilizing surgical instruments, equipment, and supplies
  • Ensuring all surgical tools are present and accessible
  • Passing instruments to the surgeon
  • Minimizing the risk of contamination during surgery
  • Prepping patients’ incision sites
  • Frequently communicating with surgeons, nurses, and other team members

Essential Skills & Qualities for Surgical Techs

Surgical technologists require a combination of technical skills, interpersonal qualities, and a commitment to patient care. Below are five essential skills and qualities that successful surgical technologists possess:

  1. Attention to Detail: Surgical technologists must have a natural attention to detail, ensuring that all instruments are correctly sterilized, counted, and arranged for use during procedures. Forgetfulness (for example, forgetting to sterilize an instrument) has serious consequences in this role and can severely impact the health of a patient.
  2. Hand-eye Coordination: Proficient hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity are crucial for handling surgical instruments and passing them to surgeons during procedures.
  3. Physical Stamina: Surgical technologists may spend long hours on their feet and need physical stamina to succeed in the role. To become a surgical tech, you must be comfortable standing for extended periods during surgeries.
  4. Adaptability: The surgical environment can be dynamic, with sudden changes in procedures, equipment, or team members. Surgical techs should be adaptable to new situations and willing to learn and evolve with advancements in healthcare.
  5. Problem-Solving Skills: Surgical techs may encounter unexpected challenges during surgeries, meaning the ability to think quickly and problem-solve in real-time is essential for surgical techs to maintain the safety and success of the procedure.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Surgical Tech?

The route to becoming a surgical tech looks different for every individual. However, after graduating high school, it typically takes one to two years to become a surgical tech.

The length of time it takes to become a surgical tech will depend on the educational route you choose. For example, as a full-time student at a community college, it generally takes one year to complete an accredited surgical technology program and become certified.

This time length will vary depending on the specific program, level of education, state certification requirements and prerequisites, hours enrolled, and if the certification process is embedded in the program, among other factors.

How to Become a Surgical Tech: A Step-By-Step Guide

Becoming a surgical technologist typically involves a combination of education, training, and certification. Below, we break down how to become a surgical technologist in three easy steps:

1. Education

In addition to a high school diploma or equivalent, surgical technologists typically need an associate’s degree or a certificate of completion from an accredited surgical technology program. Keep in mind that the program must be accredited by The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

These programs are often offered by community colleges, vocational schools, universities, and hospitals, with course content ranging from anatomy and biology to sterilization and robotic equipment operation. The accredited surgical technology program will also provide prospective surgical techs with essential hands-on experience in the clinical setting.

2. Certification

Due to the level of precision and understanding required of the technology and the operating room’s preparatory procedures, it is necessary for surgical techs to complete a post-secondary certificate to become properly certified.

A surgical technologist must obtain a certification through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, as well as a certification from the National Center for Competency Testing.

3. Job Search

Once you graduate from an accredited program and receive your certifications, you can begin applying for surgical tech positions! Begin by exploring various job search platforms, such as Soliant, healthcare-specific job boards, hospital websites, and general job search websites.

What is a Surgical Tech Salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for surgical technologists is $55,960. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,860, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $78,560.

The highest-paying job settings for surgical technologists are outpatient care centers, hospitals, and offices of physicians. The highest-paying states for surgical technologists are Alaska, California, and Connecticut. The annual mean wage for surgical technologists in these states is over $71,400.

How Much Do Surgical Techs Make an Hour?

According to the BLS, the mean hourly wage for surgical techs is $27.64. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18.68 an hour, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $37.77 an hour.

Embark on Your Surgical Technologist Career

Looking for an exciting career in the OR where each day is different from the next? Becoming a surgical technologist might be the perfect path for you!

At Soliant, we help surgical technologists find their dream position every day. Just as patients and members of the medical team rely on you, you can rely on us to manage all the details of your career. Start by browsing our open positions for surgical techs across the country, and get ready to embark on a deeply rewarding career as a surgical technologist with Soliant today!