Surgical Technician Job Description, Duties and Employment Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a surgical technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Surgical technicians, commonly referred to as surgical technologists or operating room (OR) technicians, work alongside surgeons, surgical assistants, nurses and anesthesiologists during medical procedures. Individuals must complete a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree program in the field to become surgical technologists; optional certification is also available.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree in surgical technology
Other Requirements Voluntary certification available through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting and the National Center for Competency Testing
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 30% for surgical technologists*
Average Salary (2013) $44,420 for surgical technologists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of a Surgical Technician

Surgical technicians assist surgeons and other medical professionals in hospital operating rooms and similar environments. Chiefly, they prepare patients, rooms and equipment for pending surgical procedures. They also assist during those procedures as part of a team of operating room professionals.

Job Duties

In preparing operating rooms, surgical technicians ensure that all of the equipment needed for the procedure is properly disinfected and assembled. They also check that the equipment is in working order. They place sterile solutions in areas where they can be easily reached by doctors.

To prepare patients for surgery, surgical technicians may clean, shave and disinfect the areas of a patient's body that will be operated on. They then move patients to the OR and position them on the operating table, using sterile surgical drapes to cover them. Monitoring patients' vital signs and observing their status is another job responsibility of a surgical technician.

During surgery, surgical technicians pass sterile surgical equipment, such as scalpels and forceps, to surgeons. They also might cut sutures, keep track of items like sponges and needles, operate lights and help dress a patient's wounds. Additionally, surgical techs are sometimes responsible for the preparation and disposal of lab specimens.

After surgery, a surgical technician generally transports a patient back to his or her room. He or she then returns to the OR to clean and prep for the next surgery.

Employment Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts a 30% increase in the employment of surgical technologists from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). This projected increase was partially attributed to a growing elderly population that is expected to require more surgical procedures in the coming years.

The average annual salary for surgical technologists was $44,420 in May 2013, according to BLS figures. Most of the surgical tech workforce found employment in general medical and surgical hospitals. Surgical technologists working for home health care services earned the highest average salary, at $63,480 a year.

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