How to Become A Surgical Technologist

Should I Become a Surgical Technologist?

Surgical Technologists/Technicians help surgeons in the operating room. Their job is to prepare all necessary equipment, get the patients set up for an operation, keep the premises sanitized and provide needed instruments to the surgeons during an operation. Surgical technologists are also known as scrubs or operating room technicians.

To become a surgical technologist, you will need to undergo a program of study that provides both theoretical coursework and clinical work experience. In this regard, different universities and community colleges offer diploma programs, certificates and associate degrees in surgical technology. Most states do not require surgical technicians to be licensed. However, getting a license is likely to enhance career prospects. This guide provides all the details.


Diploma; Certificate; Associate Degree

Fields of Study

Surgical Technology


Different certifications available. Licensing is not mandated in most states but licensed professionals can tap into better career opportunities.



Key Skills

Operation monitoring, active listening, coordination, critical thinking, monitoring, problem sensitivity, arm-hand steadiness, oral comprehension, medical software, spreadsheet and electronic mail software, office suite software, photo imaging or graphics software.                                 

Annual Mean Wage

$49,040 (May, 2018)

Job Outlook

9% expected increase in employment opportunities for surgical technologists from 2018 to 2028.

Sources: O*Net Online and US Bureau of Labor Statistics

To become a surgical technologist, you will need to have good arm-hand steadiness. You must also be an excellent communicator with the ability to keep your cool during high-pressure and delicate situations (especially within the operating room). Other important skills include critical thinking, problem sensitivity and operation monitoring, etc.    

Career Requirements

Aspiring surgical technologists should complete high school and then enroll into a diploma, certificate or an associate degree program in surgical technology. Many universities and hospitals offer surgical technology-related courses and degree programs. Training is also available at many hospitals around the country.

Different states have their own licensing/certification requirements for surgical technologists who wish to be licensed. Moreover, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is a national regulatory body that approves and provides accreditation to most study programs in the field.

Steps to Become a Surgical Technologist

The following steps must be taken if you want to become a surgical technologist in the US.

  1. Pass High School

To be eligible for surgical technology education, you must complete your High School Diploma or the alternative GED (General Educational Development) Certificate.

  1. Obtain Post-Secondary Education in the Field

After you are done with high school, you can then go for specialized surgical technology education. The most common approach is to study for a certificate or an associate degree in the field. Diploma programs are also available.

  1. On-the-Job Training

When you are done with specialized education, you can apply for work at a hospital or a private clinic. Many health facilities require their surgical technicians to undergo training on the job as well.

  1. Get a License (Optional In Most States)

Becoming a licensed surgical technologist is not mandatory in most states. However, you can access better career opportunities by doing so.

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