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Surgical Technician Qualifications and Requirements

Updated on July 4, 2013

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

Surgical technicians, are also known as surgical technologists, surgery techs, or scrub techs because of the sterile clothing (scrubs) that they must wear while assisting with surgeries. They must be able to tolerate the unpleasant sights, odors and materials of operations, and work with others. Their jobs require specific qualifications.


Specific qualities can enhance the training and jobs of surgical technicians. Arguably the most important of these is the ability to handle high-stress situations because operations can be stressful, with life often hanging in the balance. Technicians must still be able to deliver quality care no matter what is happening on the surgical table. Good attention to detail ensures that technicians provide the correct sterile equipment when requested, and follow correct procedures. One important physical quality is stamina because technicians must stand on their feet for most of their shift. Dexterity is another, so they can provide requested instruments quickly.


Aspiring surgical technicians can begin with a high school diploma or equivalent. They can then obtain post-secondary training in the profession through community colleges or vocational schools. The courses of study can take as little as three semesters, as in the certificate program offered at Quinsigamond Community College. It can also take as long as two years, as in the Associate Degree in Applied Science in Surgical Technology offered by Nassau Community College. Programs typically include work in the classroom and laboratory, and clinical experience at medical facilities.



A few states require certification for surgical technology. Whether mandated or not, the credential can help technicians find jobs. Three national organizations offer certification. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting grants the designation “Certified Surgical Technologist.” The National Center for Competency Testing grants the title “Tech in Surgery-Certified.” Either credential requires finishing an accredited program, passing an exam and receiving continuing education. For the Certified Operating Room and Surgical Technician title, awarded by national Healthcare Association, candidates must have the education and at least one year of working experience. This certification must be renewed every two years through continuing education or through an exam.


Surgical technicians are predicted to have average job growth of 19 percent from 2010 to 2020. Because the American population is growing older, it will experience more of the medical conditions that require operations, such as heart procedures and joint replacements. This will increase the demand for the profession. Hospitals will continue to be the biggest employers. As of May 2011, surgical technicians earned a mean $42,460 per year, or $20.41 per hour, according to the BLS.


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    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      I always thought a surgical technician would have to be a registered nurse, but I guess not.

      Very informative Hub.

      I voted this UP, etc.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      That's actually happening in a lot of countries in the world, Mellonyy.

    • Mellonyy profile image

      Mellonyy 5 years ago

      Very useful article! ,,,"Because the American population is growing older...." sadly, but true. I have read that the size of the american population age 65 and older will double over the next 25 years.

      Thanks for sharing!