If you’ve ever dreamed of a career in the operating room, becoming a surgical tech might be the perfect fit for you. Surgical techs play a vital role in assisting surgeons during procedures, ensuring the operating room is prepared, and maintaining patient safety and care. If you’re interested in pursuing this rewarding career, here are the six steps to becoming a surgical tech.
- Becoming a surgical tech involves completing a surgical technologist program and obtaining certification.
- Specialized training and internships provide valuable hands-on experience.
- Continuing education is required to maintain certification as a surgical tech.
- Advancement opportunities in the field include specialization and roles such as surgical first assistant and central supply supervisor.
- Surgical techs should possess attention to detail, teamwork skills, and the ability to work in a fast-paced environment.
Pros and Cons of Being a Surgical Tech
Before diving into the steps, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of pursuing a career as a surgical tech. Like any profession, there are both advantages and disadvantages to consider. Let’s take a closer look.
- Job Stability: The demand for surgical techs is on the rise, and employment opportunities are expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. This means that once you become a surgical tech, you can enjoy a stable career with good job prospects.
- Fulfilling Work: As a surgical tech, you play a crucial role in the operating room. You get to work alongside surgeons, assisting them during procedures and ensuring patient safety. This can be incredibly rewarding for those who enjoy making a difference in people’s lives.
- Fast-paced Environment: If you thrive in high-pressure situations and enjoy a fast-paced work environment, becoming a surgical tech may be the perfect fit for you. Operating rooms are known for their fast-paced nature, which can provide an exciting and dynamic work environment.
- Physically Demanding: The job of a surgical tech requires physical stamina and endurance. You will be on your feet for extended periods, assisting in surgeries that can last for hours. This can take a toll on your body, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.
- Emotionally Challenging: While it can be rewarding, working in the operating room can also be emotionally challenging. You will witness life-threatening situations, traumatic injuries, and potentially difficult outcomes. It’s important to be mentally prepared for the emotional toll this work can take.
- Work Schedule: Surgical techs often work irregular hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays. This is because surgeries can happen at any time, and the operating room needs to be staffed around the clock. If you value a predictable work schedule, this may not be the best career choice for you.
Now that we have examined the pros and cons of being a surgical tech, you can make an informed decision about whether this career path aligns with your interests, skills, and lifestyle. It’s important to consider all aspects of the profession before committing to the necessary steps to become a surgical tech.
Remember, everyone’s experience in any profession can vary, and what may be a disadvantage for one person could be a positive aspect for another. Take the time to research, talk to professionals in the field, and reflect on your own goals and values before embarking on this exciting and rewarding career journey.
Step 1: Completing a Surgical Technologist Program
The first step towards becoming a surgical tech is to complete a recognized surgical technologist program. These programs are offered by various educational institutions, including vocational schools, community colleges, and universities. Accredited programs typically take 12 to 24 months to complete, depending on the level of education and training desired.
During the program, students will learn essential skills and knowledge required to work as a surgical tech. This includes understanding surgical procedures, sterilization techniques, medical terminology, and patient care. Students will also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in simulated operating room environments or through clinical rotations at healthcare facilities.
|Opportunity to gain specialized knowledge and skills||Requires a significant time commitment|
|Hands-on training and experience||May involve demanding physical work|
|Potential for career advancement and higher earning potential||Can be emotionally challenging|
|Job stability and opportunities for employment||May require working irregular hours, including nights and weekends|
“Completing a surgical technologist program is the foundation for a successful career as a surgical tech. It provides the necessary knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience to excel in the operating room.”
Upon completion of the program, graduates may choose to pursue additional specialized training or proceed to the next steps in becoming a surgical tech, which include gaining hands-on experience through internships and obtaining certification.
Step 2: Specialized Training and Internships
To further enhance your skills and knowledge, it’s advisable to pursue specialized training and gain hands-on experience through internships. Specialized training programs are designed to provide surgical techs with advanced techniques and specialized knowledge in specific areas of surgical technology. These programs can help you stand out in a competitive job market and open doors to more specialized roles within the field.
During specialized training, you will have the opportunity to learn and practice advanced surgical procedures, such as minimally invasive techniques or robotic surgery. You will also gain in-depth knowledge of specialized surgical instruments and equipment. This training is typically provided by experienced surgical techs or healthcare professionals in a clinical setting.
“Specialized training programs can equip you with the skills and expertise you need to excel in your career as a surgical tech.”
In addition to specialized training, internships play a crucial role in your professional development. These internships provide hands-on experience in real operating room settings, allowing you to apply the skills and knowledge gained during your training. Internships also give you the opportunity to work alongside experienced surgical techs and observe surgical procedures firsthand.
Internships may be offered through hospitals, surgical centers, or healthcare facilities that have partnerships with surgical technologist programs. They typically last for a specified period, ranging from a few weeks to several months. During your internship, you will have the chance to assist in various surgical procedures, prepare operating rooms, and interact with patients and surgical teams. This practical experience will not only enhance your technical skills but also sharpen your communication and teamwork abilities, which are essential in the operating room.
|Specialized Training and Internships||Benefits|
|Advanced techniques and specialized knowledge||Stand out in the job market and pursue specialized roles|
|Hands-on experience in real operating room settings||Apply skills and knowledge gained during training|
|Opportunity to work alongside experienced surgical techs||Observe surgical procedures firsthand and learn from professionals|
In conclusion, specialized training and internships are valuable steps in becoming a skilled surgical tech. Specialized training programs can equip you with advanced techniques and specialized knowledge, helping you excel in your career and pursue specialized roles. Internships provide hands-on experience in real operating rooms and allow you to apply the skills and knowledge gained during your training. They also offer the opportunity to work alongside experienced surgical techs and observe surgical procedures firsthand, enhancing your technical skills and teamwork abilities.
By investing in specialized training and internships, you can further develop your expertise as a surgical tech and position yourself for success in this fast-paced and rewarding field.
After completing a surgical technologist program, the next step is to obtain certification as a surgical tech. Certification is an important credential that demonstrates your competence and commitment to the field. It also opens up more job opportunities and can lead to higher earning potential.
There are several national certification exams available for surgical techs, including the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). This exam assesses your knowledge and skills in areas such as patient care, surgical procedures, and sterile technique. Passing the exam demonstrates your ability to perform essential tasks in the operating room.
Each state may have its own licensing requirements for surgical techs, so it’s important to check the regulations in the state where you plan to practice. Some states require certification as a prerequisite for licensure, while others may have additional requirements such as background checks or continuing education.
Table: National Certification Exams for Surgical Techs
|Exam||Offered by||Exam Fee|
|Certified Surgical Technologist (CST)||National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA)||$290|
|Tech in Surgery – Certified (TS-C)||National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)||$155|
|Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) *||National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA)||$590|
Obtaining certification is a significant achievement that validates your skills and knowledge as a surgical tech. It demonstrates your commitment to professionalism and ongoing learning. Certification also provides a competitive edge in the job market, as many employers prefer to hire certified surgical techs. Remember to check the requirements specific to your state and choose the appropriate national certification exam to pursue. With certification in hand, you’ll be well-equipped to start your career as a surgical tech.
Note: The image above represents the significance of obtaining certification as a surgical tech and its impact on career growth and opportunities.
Continuing education is usually required to maintain your certification. This ensures that you stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in the field and maintain your skills and knowledge. It’s important to regularly check for opportunities to earn continuing education credits, whether through workshops, conferences, or online courses.
Certification as a surgical tech is not just a one-time achievement; it is an ongoing commitment to excellence and professional development. It not only validates your proficiency but also demonstrates your dedication to providing safe and efficient care in the operating room. So, take the next step in your career by obtaining certification and enjoy the rewards of being a certified surgical tech.
- “Certification.” National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. Accessed September 23, 2022. https://www.nbstsa.org/certification/
- “Certification.” National Center for Competency Testing. Accessed September 23, 2022. https://www.ncctinc.com/certifications/tsc/
Once you have completed a surgical technologist program, the next important step is to obtain certification as a surgical tech. This certification demonstrates your competence and commitment to the field, enhancing your job prospects and potential earnings. There are several national certification exams available, such as the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam offered by the NBSTSA. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with your state’s licensing requirements, as each state may have specific regulations. Some states may require certification as a prerequisite for licensure, while others may have additional requirements. Continuing education is necessary to maintain certification, ensuring that you stay updated with the latest advancements in the field. Certification as a surgical tech is an ongoing commitment to professional development and excellence.
* The Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) exam is mentioned as an additional option for career advancement but is not directly related to the certification process for surgical techs.
Advancement Opportunities in the Field of Surgical Technology
As a surgical tech, there are numerous opportunities for career advancement and growth within the field. Once you have gained experience and established yourself as a skilled surgical tech, you may choose to pursue specialization in a specific area of surgery. Specializing as a surgical first assistant allows you to work directly alongside surgeons, assisting in complex procedures and taking on more advanced responsibilities. This role requires additional training and certification, but it offers a higher level of involvement and a chance to further develop your skills.
Another path for career advancement is the role of a central supply supervisor. In this position, you would oversee the management and organization of surgical instruments and supplies, ensuring they are properly sterilized, maintained, and readily available for use during procedures. This role requires strong organizational and leadership skills, as well as a deep understanding of surgical instruments and their proper handling.
Both specializations offer increased responsibility, higher earning potential, and the opportunity to make a greater impact in the operating room. However, it’s important to note that advancement in the field of surgical technology typically requires a combination of experience, additional training, and certification. Continuing education is also essential to stay up-to-date with advancements in surgical techniques, technology, and patient care.
As a surgical tech, you play a vital role in the operating room, ensuring patient safety and contributing to the success of surgical procedures. The field offers a challenging and rewarding career path with opportunities for growth and professional development. Whether you choose to specialize as a surgical first assistant, become a central supply supervisor, or explore other avenues within surgical technology, there are many possibilities to advance your career and make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients.
Q: What are the steps to becoming a surgical tech?
A: Becoming a surgical tech involves several steps, including completing a surgical technologist program, getting specialized training if desired, gaining hands-on experience through internships, and obtaining certification.
Q: What are the duties of a surgical tech?
A: Surgical techs have a variety of duties in the operating room, including preparing the operating room, sterilizing equipment, assisting surgeons during procedures, and ensuring patient care and safety.
Q: How much do surgical techs earn?
A: The median salary for surgical techs in 2021 was $48,510 per year, with variations depending on location and experience.
Q: How can high school students prepare for a career as a surgical tech?
A: High school students can start preparing for this career by taking relevant courses and gaining experience in healthcare settings.
Q: How long does it take to complete a surgical technologist program?
A: Accredited surgical technologist programs typically take 12 to 24 months to complete.
Q: What is the process for obtaining certification as a surgical tech?
A: After completing a program, graduates need to check their state’s licensing requirements and take one of the national certification exams. Continuing education is required to maintain certification.
Q: What are the advancement opportunities for surgical techs?
A: Advancement opportunities for surgical techs include specialization and roles such as surgical first assistant and central supply supervisor.
Q: What skills are required to be a surgical tech?
A: Being a surgical tech requires attention to detail, teamwork skills, and the ability to work in a fast-paced and demanding environment while ensuring patient safety.