Surgical technicians help surgeons and nurses in an operating room during surgery. They prepare the operating room, sterilize equipment and make sure the operating room has the supplies needed for surgery. They also prepare patients for surgery before the operation. The qualifications of surgical technicians vary by state, but generally include education, personal qualities and certification to work in this job.
Employers require surgical technicians to receive training resulting in a certificate, diploma or an associate degree in surgical technology. Surgical technician education programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs. Coursework includes biology, health, anatomy and medical terminology. Students are also trained how to sterilize surgical equipment, patient safety and infection control. Hands-on training in a hospital using different surgical equipment is also part of coursework for surgical technicians.
To be successful as a surgical technician, your personality should be a match for the job. Surgical technicians must be detail-oriented and focused on their work at all times. Stamina is critical, because surgical procedures require them to stand on their feet for long periods. Surgical technicians also work with their hands extensively during surgical procedures. Some procedures can be stressful. Surgical technicians must maintain their composure, continue to do their job and care for patients in a stressful environment.
Most states do not regulate surgical technician jobs, but many employers require certification. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting offer certification as does the National Healthcare Association. Getting certified generally requires attending an accredited training program and passing an exam; additional classes may be required to maintain certification.
Job Outlook and Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 19 percent growth for these occupations through 2020. Growth is expected because of advances in technology, as well as aging baby boomers who will require surgery during that time frame. In 2011, the average salary for surgical technologists, which includes surgical assistants and technicians, was $42,460 per year, according to the bureau.
2016 Salary Information for Surgical Technologists
Surgical technologists earned a median annual salary of $45,160 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, surgical technologists earned a 25th percentile salary of $36,980, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $55,030, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 107,700 people were employed in the U.S. as surgical technologists.