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A surgical tech or technologist is a health professional who assists surgeons in a variety of ways before, during and after surgical procedures are performed on patients. These professionals prepare operating rooms and sterile equipment, set up surgical tools and often transport patients to surgery and monitor their vital signs. Throughout the operation, a surgical tech passes the appropriate surgical tools to surgeons. Required classes to become a surgical tech include high school and post-secondary training to be successful in this occupation.
To prepare for further education to become a surgical technologist, specific classes are suggested in high school. High school graduation is normally required to attend post-secondary education in surgical technology. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends health, biology and chemistry classes. Mathematics is also suggested. These classes help aspiring surgical tech to understand human anatomy and biology, as well as measure, prepare and monitor surgical solutions and equipment.
Formal post-secondary training programs range from nine to 24 months. Graduation leads to a diploma, certificate or an associate degree in surgical technology. In 2008, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs accredited 450 educational programs in the United States. Required classes include coursework and practical clinical training. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites training includes classes in "anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, professional ethics, and medical terminology." Practical clinical training includes sterilizing surgical equipment and operating rooms, infection control and appropriate handling of drugs, medical solutions, surgical equipment and supplies.
Following an educational path that leads to accredited graduation allows surgical technologists to become certified. Many employers prefer surgical technologists who receive certification and obtaining accredited credentials may increase employment opportunities. More recently, the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting oversaw credentialing for surgical techs and offer the Certified Surgical First Assistant credential. Membership to professional associations such as the Association of Surgical Technologists will also assist in finding and receiving continuing education required to maintain certification.
Surgical Tech Career
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 25 percent growth for surgical techs between 2008 and 2018. Surgical techs who receive the appropriate education and recommended certification should expect a rewarding career. In December 2010, PayScale, an online compensation database, reported surgical techs with under one year of experience earn average salaries ranging from $11.87 to $15.47 per hour. The overall average salary ranges from $32,036 to $45,327 per year.