The general public may think of a surgical tech as the person who hands over the instrument when the surgeon says, “Scalpel!” or “Forceps!” That’s not untrue, but surgical techs do much more than that.

Surgical Technologist Job Description

OR Techs prepare and maintain a sterile field in the operating room; they ready patients for surgery by washing and disinfecting incision sites. At a more advanced level, they may hold retractors or provide other manual support during surgery. They inventory surgical supplies before, during and after the operation, and often transport patients to and from the operating room.

Given the importance of surgical checklists and the consequences of patient infection, a operating room tech’s meticulous attention to procedure is essential to successful surgery outcomes.

What is the long-term job outlook for Surgical Technologists?


Advances in operating room techniques and equipment have meant that surgical procedures are on the rise, often addressing conditions that in the past would have been treated with other modalities or allowed to resolve (or not) on their own. As the baby boomers age, the number of surgeries performed is also expected to increase. In the next ten years the BLS projects that job growth in this field will increase 15% – much faster than average.

What is a typical Surgical Tech salary?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for surgical techs in 2015 was $44,330 per year or $21.31 an hour.

As with any profession, surgical technician pay varies with work experience, responsibilities, the medical facility, and geographical area. That said, according to the BLS’ Occupational Employment Statistics, some of the best pay for surgical techs is in:

Is there a way to increase what a Surgical Tech earns?

With the need for surgical technologists on the rise, many healthcare employers are looking to supplement their permanent staff with traveling surgical techs. This can happen in areas where the patient population is seasonal (like resorts) or in locations where there is a local shortage of qualified healthcare professionals.

Many of these positions last for approximately three months, though they may be longer or shorter in duration and are often renewable.

Travelers typically earn more than permanent staff, and they also earn valuable benefits such as insurance, travel allowances and free private housing.

How to become a Surgical Tech

Although the terms surgical technician and surgical technologist are often used interchangeably, many employers will require a technologist to have earned a degree and/or certification from an accredited program.

Vocational schools, community colleges and universities are likely to offer accredited courses. You coursework may take several months to two years to complete. As a student or recent grad, you’ll also be expected to work in a clinical setting where you’ll get real-life experience. The coursework is no cakewalk; you’ll study anatomy, biology, pharmacology, sterilization techniques, patient care, and the operation and maintenance of advanced medical equipment.

Many hospitals expect a Surgical Tech to have earned certification through The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, thus becoming a Certified Surgical Technologist (also known as a CST)

Are there career advancement opportunities for Surgical Technologists?

Many surgical technologists go further in their education by earning additional certification in order to qualify as a First Assistant. The certification, accompanied by work experience, enables a CSA to take a more hands-on role in the operating room: sponging, suturing, treating wounds.

A career as a Certified Surgical Technologist is a great option for individuals who like detail-oriented, demanding work that offers something new every day, and an opportunity to help others