Surgical Technologist Job Description and Duties

Learn about your duties and responsibilities as a surgical technologist.

The Basics

What you'll do as a Surgical Technologist: Also called operating room technicians, surgical technologists assist in surgical operations. You'll prepare operating rooms for surgery; sterilize and supply equipment; prepare patients for surgery, such as washing incision cites; help surgeons and nurses during surgery by passing them instruments and other sterile supplies. 

Where you'll work: Hospitals, physicians' offices, outpatient care centers. dentists' offices

Degree you'll need to practice: Postsecondary certificate or associate's degree

Average Median Salary: $41,790*

Job Environment

surgical technologist job description

Most surgical technologists work as members of a health care team alongside physicians and surgeons, registered nurses and other workers in a hospital. They all wear scrubs while in the operating room, in addition to masks and other preventative shields. As a surgical technologist, you'll be on your feet, and you may be exposed to unpleasant sights, smells and materials.

In addition to helping prepare for and carry out surgeries, you may also prepare, care for and dispose of specimens taken for lab analysis. With patients, you may apply dressings and help ease them into recovery rooms.

Career Advancement

Certification can help a surgical technologist in finding the right position. You can earn various types of certification, such as:

  • Certified Surgical Technologist, through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting
  • Tech in Surgery—Certified, through the National Center for Competency Testing
  • Certified Operating Room and Surgical Technician (CORST), through the National Healthcare Association

As advancements in technology have made surgery safer, and as the aging population requires care, surgery technologists will be ensured steady work. Prospects are best for those who've completed an accredited education program and who maintain their professional certification.

With experience and additional education, surgical technologists can advance to become surgical assistants. Surgical technologists also occasionally advance to other healthcare occupations, such as physician assistants or registered nurses.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Surgical Technologists.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.