How to Become a Certified Scrub Technician

Research the requirements to become a certified scrub technician. Learn about the job description and duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career in surgical technology.

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Do I Want to Be a Certified Scrub Technician?

Scrub technicians, also referred to as surgical technologists, assist surgeons in the operating room. Responsibilities for this position include preparing operating rooms, sterilizing equipment, passing instruments to the surgeons, moving patients, and dressing wounds.

Many surgical technologists work in hospitals; as a result, there is a minimal risk of being exposed to infectious diseases. Much of technicians and technologists' time is spent on their feet and surgeries may take hours to complete. Most scrub technicians work full-time and schedules may include evenings, overnights, weekends, and on-call hours.

Job Requirements

Many technicians in this field have at least some postsecondary training, such as an associate's degree. Employers may also prefer that technicians earn certification that demonstrates their knowledge and skills in surgical technology.

The table below includes the requirements to become a certified scrub technician.

Common Requirements
Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent*; postsecondary education can be beneficial and necessary for certification**
Degree Field Surgical technology**
Certification Voluntary certification is available**; may be required or preferred by employers*
Experience Varies; at least a year of related scrub experience may be required*
Key Skills Attention to detail, stamina, dexterity, stress management**
Computer Skills Ability to use field-specific medical software***
Technical Skills Familiarity with surgical tools, such as surgical staplers, portable suction units, orthopedic drills and thermal cautery units***
Additional Requirements Current basic life support (BLS) certification*

Sources *Job listings from employers (November 2012), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ***O*Net Online

Step 1: Complete a Surgical Technology Program

Prospective scrub technicians who plan on obtaining certification should attend a diploma, certificate or an associate's degree program accredited by either the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). According to the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST), a 2-year associate's degree program in surgical technology is the preferred credential for entry-level practice. Required courses typically include anatomy and physiology, biology, medical terminology, microbiology, nursing assistant training and operating room techniques surgical procedures.

Success Tip:

  • Complete a clinical internship. An internship is an opportunity for students to work and learn in a professional environment. Students will shadow an experienced technician and begin applying their studies to professional situations.

Step 2: Gain Scrub Experience

Based on job postings from employers in November 2012, employers typically look for applicants with related experience. Prospective scrub technicians can find positions in healthcare environments, such as hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers, where they will learn how to prepare medical charts and assist physicians.

Step 3: Become Certified

Although not required, certification as a scrub technician can help increase job prospects. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) is just one of the organizations that offers related certification. Graduates from a program accredited by the CAAHEP or ABHES, as well as scrub professionals from the military, are eligible to sit for the certification exam to attain the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential from NBSTSA.

Success Tip:

  • Keep certification current. Organizations like the NBSTSA require certification renewal. To recertify, scrub techs typically need to complete continuing education credits or retake the certifying examination.
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