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What Degree Does a Surgical Technician Need?

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Home » Surgical Technologist » Education

Follow These Tips for Success

What could help prepare you for a potential career as a surgical technologist?

Here are 10 tips that may help you make your decision, from ensuring you attend an accredited school, and the possibility of online programs, to potentially earning your way up the career ladder after you’ve landed that first job:

Check your prerequisites.

woman looking through microscope with students in the background

Surgical technologist training programs require that applicants have at least a high school diploma or GED. Applicants with a solid background of high school math and science classes, along with strong writing and communication skills, may be the most prepared for this line of study.

Verify your program’s accreditation.

close up of student and instructor hands at table looking over paperwork

To be eligible for the national certification exam offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), you must graduate from a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

Scour for scholarships.

close up of hands using calculator to fill out paperwork

The Foundation for Surgical Technology awards need-based and academic merit scholarships specifically for students who are pursuing a surgical technology career and who are enrolled in a CAAHEP-accredited degree program.

Hit the books.

woman in scrubs looking at laptop

Although much of a surgical technologist’s job is learned through hands-on experience, the fundamental medical knowledge about anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology, and surgical procedures comes primarily from academic study.

Gain experience through internships.

surgical intern helping doctors in operating room'

Many surgical tech schools offer supervised clinical internships as part of their program, which can help build up your resume, but some hospitals also offer unpaid internships that provide valuable work experience and can translate into college credits.

Pass the national certification exam.

two business people with paperwork discussing an exam grade

After earning a degree in surgical technology, most graduates choose to take the comprehensive exam offered by the NBSTSA for national certification. Certification may help you advance, and may help you be considered for potential salary increases.

Think outside of hospitals.

surgical tech preparing dental patient for surgery

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 73% of surgical techs find employment in hospitals. However, the BLS also states that surgical techs may also be found in outpatient care centers, physicians’ offices, and in dental offices.

Become a first assistant.

several surgical techs working on patient

With additional training and education, a wide range of advancements and specialized positions are open to surgical technicians, such as the position of surgical first assistant. Surgical assistants can pursue national certification to become Certified First Assistants (CFAs).

Stay certified and up to date.

close up of surgical techs scrubbing hands on OR

National surgical tech certification must be renewed every four to five years, either by retaking the exam or by taking continuing education classes. By staying abreast of technological and medical advancements you will keep your certification current.

Remain calm, careful, and caring.

several surgical techs working on patient

Working in an OR requires that surgical techs remain calm, focused and supportive in what are often tense situations. These professionals are also responsible for maintaining the OR’s equipment and sterile conditions, which requires careful diligence and steady attention. You must be able to work closely with patients, surgeons, and nurses in a helpful and caring manner. So as you advance your education and career, be certain always to nurture these three Cs.