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Surgical Technician Career Factsheet

By: CareerFactsheet.com- Updated: Aug. 31, 2013

Surgical technologists assist in surgical operations. They are also known as surgical technicians or operating room technicians. As part of their duties, surgical technologists prepare operating rooms, arrange surgical equipment, and provide assistance to doctors and nurses during surgeries.

Is this job for me?
If you possess the following qualities, a career as a surgical technologist may be for you:

  • Detail oriented
  • Dexterity
  • Stamina
  • Stress-management skills

In addition to these skills, there are certain character traits that are important to have as a surgical technologist. You must be dependable, reliable and responsible, and you must also work well on your own and with a team. You must also be honest and ethical.

Duties and Responsibilities

The career of a Surgical Technologist
The main duties of a surgical technologist are to prepare operating rooms for surgery, including sterilizing surgical instruments and equipment, making sure that there are supplies in the operating room, and setting out instruments and equipment. They also clean and restock operating rooms once an operation has concluded. Surgical technologists also prepare patients for surgeries, including washing and disinfecting incision sites, positioning patients on the operating table, and covering patients with sterile drapes. During surgeries, they provide assistance by helping nurses and doctors with sterile gowns and gloves, as well as handing instruments and other supplies to members of the surgical team. Surgical technologists may also handle specimens for laboratory analysis, including preparing, caring for, and disposing specimens. They can also apply dressings on patients. Following operations, they may also help with transfering patients to recovery rooms.

Where do Surgical Technologists work?
Hospitals are the primary workplace for surgical technologists. Technologists may also work in outpatient surgery centers and in physicians’ or dentists’ offices where surgeries are performed. Some technologists may also work in research or education at universities and colleges, or with insurance companies.

Why should I Consider a Career as a Surgical Technologist?
If you have an interest in assisting people and working in the heath care field, a career as a surgical technologist may be right for you. Demand for surgical technologists has remained at or above the national average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the population ages and the need for surgery increases, hospitals and outpatient care centers will continue to hire surgical technologists. Many graduates of surgical technology programs find employment after graduating, which makes individuals with an education in surgical technology highly employable.

What Education and Training do I need?
Generally, a postsecondary education is required to work as a surgical technologist. An associate’s degree in surgical technology is recommended, although certificate and diploma programs are also available. Programs in surgical technology typically last between nine months and two years. They are offered by a range of educational institutions, including universities, junior and community colleges, and vocational schools. Admission to post-secondary surgical technician programs generally requires a high school diploma or equivalent. If you are interested in a career as a surgical technologist, you should complete courses in health, biology, chemistry, and mathematics during high school. Certification may also be needed for certain positions, or to enhance your employability.

How much Can I Earn?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, a surgical technologist in 2012 earned an average median hourly wage of $20.91 or $43,480 annually. A surgical technician’s salary often depends on where they work and their specialization. For example, technologists employed in outpatient care centers earn more than those working at hospitals.

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