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Surgical technologists are members of operating room teams. Before an operation, surgical technologists help prepare the operating room by setting up surgical instruments and equipment, sterile drapes, and sterile solutions. Technologists also get patients ready for surgery by washing, shaving, and disinfecting incision sites. They transport patients to the operating room, help position them on the operating table, and cover them with sterile surgical “drapes.” Technologists also observe patients ‘vital signs, check charts, and assist the surgical team with putting on sterile gowns and gloves. Surgical technologists help prepare, care for, and dispose of specimens taken for laboratory analysis and help apply dressings. Some operate sterilizers, lights, or suction machines, and help operate diagnostic equipment. After an operation, surgical technologists may help transfer patients to the recovery room and clean and restock the operating room.

Employment Characteristics

Surgical technologists hold about 91,500 jobs. Almost 71% are employed by hospitals, mainly in operating and delivery rooms. Others are employed in clinics and surgical centers, and in the offices of physicians and dentists who perform outpatient surgery. A few, known as private scrubs, are employed directly by surgeons who have special surgical teams, like those for liver transplants.

Growth Rate

Employment of surgical technologists is expected to grow 25% or more by the year 2018 as the volume of surgery increases due to the growth of the over-50 population, which requires more surgical procedures. Technological advances, such as fiber optics and laser technology, will also result in new surgical procedures. Hospitals will continue to be the primary employer of surgical technologists, although much faster employment growth is expected in physician offices and clinics, including ambulatory surgical centers.

Earning Potential

Median annual earnings of surgical technologists are $38,740. The middle 50% earn between $32,490 and $46,910.

Educational Program Data. Program Description/Length

Surgical technologists receive their training in formal programs offered by community colleges, private career schools, vocational schools, universities, hospitals, and the military. Programs last nine to 24 months and lead to a certificate, diploma, or associate’s degree.


Students take courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, professional ethics, and medical terminology. Other studies cover the care and safety of patients during surgery, aseptic techniques, and surgical procedures. Students also learn to sterilize instruments; prevent and control infection; suture; and handle special drugs, solutions, supplies, and equipment.

Career and Accrediting Organizations

1- Association of Surgical Technologists (AST)
6 West Dry Creek Circle, Suite 200, Littleton, CO 80120 303-694-9130 or 800-637-7433 www.ast.org.

2- National Center for Competency Testing
NCCT 7007 College Blvd Suite 385 Overland Park KS 66211 Phone: 800.875.4404 Fax: 913.498.1243


1- National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA)
6 West Dry Creek Circle, Suite 100, Littleton, CO 80120 800-707-0057 www.nbstsa.org

2- National Center for Competency Testing
NCCT 7007 College Blvd Suite 385 Overland Park KS 66211 Phone: 800.875.4404 Fax: 913.498.1243

Program Accreditation

1- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) in collaboration with Accreditation Review Committee on Education in Surgical Technology
6 West Dry Creek Circle, Suite 110, Littleton, CO 80120 303-694-9262 www.arcst.org

2- Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
7777 Leesburg Pike, Suite 314 N. Falls Church, VA 22043
Phone (703) 917-9503 Fax (703) 917-4109 * This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.