Surgical Technician License

When an individual decides to look into becoming a Certified Surgical Technologist, they are likely to encounter terms such as certification and licensure/licensing. To be clear, Surgical Technician License is not correct terminology. Certified Surgical Technologists are unlicensed medical personnel that must operate under the supervision of licensed nurses and physicians. Surgical Technicians receive certification that allows them to work in the field.

Obtaining Surgical Technician Certification

Having established that there is no such thing as a Surgical Technician License, prospective students are likely to be curious as to the process of obtaining Surgical Technician Certification. Simply speaking, one must pass the national exam to become a Certified Surgical Technologist. However, qualify to even take the exam will require a good bit of specialized training from an accredited learning institution.

The amount of time a student will spend training to become a Certified Surgical Technologist will depend on the level of education they wish to complete. Certificate only surgical technician training may be as short as 9 months. Obtaining an Associate’s Degree in surgical technology, on the other hand, generally requires about 24 months for completion.

Surgical Technician Training

Any student wishing to sit for the national exam, whether they desire a certificate, diploma, or degree, must attend classes at a school that is accredited by an acceptable accrediting association. In most cases, this will mean that Certified Surgical Technologist students must enroll in on-campus courses at a local technical school or college. There are a small handful of online courses available. However, students will still have to obtain a certain number of hours of hands-on training, usually by internship, in order to complete the course. The number of hours will depend on which training option was chosen.

Surgical Technician Certificate

Obtaining a training certificate from a school does not automatically make the student a Certified Surgical Technologist; only the exam can provide certification. A certificate from a Surgical Technician school is simply proof that the student has completed the necessary training required to sign up for the exam. This is the minimum level of training one may obtain to work as a Certified Surgical Technologist. It is the least expensive and the fastest, but it may not provide the best leverage when interviewing for Certified Surgical Technologist positions.

Surgical Technician Diploma

A surgical technician diploma is a median option between a certificate and a degree. It takes a bit longer to obtain—about 12 to 15 months—but it gives the recipient additional training that will help them to compete in the Certified Surgical Technologist job market.

Surgical Technician Associate’s Degree

This is the highest level of training a Certified Surgical Technologist can obtain before moving up to Surgical Assistant. Possessing a degree in surgical technology will tell potential employers that the candidate is highly trained, and therefore extremely desirable.

Even though it is impossible to obtain a Surgical Technician License, there are options for higher education available to Certified Surgical Technologist students who wish to utilize it.

Surgical Assistant Salary

A position as a Certified Surgical Assistant can be quite rewarding and lucrative. However, sometimes a technologist may choose to advance their career even further by becoming a Surgical Assistant. This position requires a good bit more training and education than that of a Certified Surgical Technologist, but the rewards can be great. For example, a Surgical Assistant Salary tends to be much higher than a technician salary.

Surgical Assistant Salary: The Numbers

Surgical Assistants may also be called First Assistants. The highest an assistant can go without actually becoming a licensed physician is a physician’s assistant. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the physician’s assistant field will experience a growth more rapid than that of Certified Surgical Technologists at a rate of 39 percent by the year 2018. The median Physician Assistant Salary is $81,000, with some assistants making as much as $110,000 per year.

Comparatively, Certified Surgical Technologists average an income of about $38,000 to $45,000 per year. Since surgical assistants fall in the middle of these two in terms of training and specialty, one could expect to earn a Surgical Assistant Salary of approximately $60,000 to $65,000 per year.

With numbers like that, it is hard to argue that continuing one’s education in pursuit of a Surgical Assistant degree isn’t worth the effort. However, qualifying for the position does require highly specialized training and education. In some cases, a Surgical Assistant may actually perform minor surgeries under the direct supervision of a licensed physician.

Becoming a Surgical Assistant

If a person is already a Certified Surgical Technologist, then they are well on the way to becoming a Surgical Assistant. It may be possible to apply course credits toward a Surgical Assistant degree, however, this is entirely at the discretion of the educational facility. As with training to become a Certified Surgical Technologist, it is important that Surgical Assistant students choose colleges or technical schools that have the appropriate accreditations.

Students may take a Surgical Assistant Exam through The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, which is the same organization that administers Certified Surgical Technologist exams. The fee for this exam is $499. There are a few ways to qualify to take the Surgical Assistant exam:

  • Proof of previous or current Certified Surgical First Assistant certification (if renewing)
  • Proof of graduation from an accredited surgical assisting education program
  • Be a current Certified Surgical Technologist with the required level of experience and proof of such

For the current Certified Surgical Technologist, this proof will consist of showing current certification and two Experience Verification Forms, properly notarized. These forms have a very specific format that must be strictly adhered to. Experience must include a full two years of employment as a Certified Surgical Technologist within the last four years and a minimum of 350 cases worked. When these requirements are met, the Certified Surgical Technologist may sit for the Surgical Assisting exam. If they are successful, they will enjoy a Surgical Assistant Salary in the very near future.

Finding Surgical Tech Jobs

As one of the fastest growing employment fields out there, a Certified Surgical Tech job will enjoy many opportunities for obtaining their dream job. Surgical Tech Jobs are high and on the rise, with the majority of them being in hospital settings. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the number of Surgical Tech Jobs will increase by 25 percent by the year 2018.

Why Are Surgical Tech Jobs on the Rise ?

Advances in technology such as fiber optics and laparoscopic surgery have made many once invasive procedures much less so. As a result, with the proper training, Certified Surgical Technologists are now able to assist and perform some tasks that only a surgeon would have been able to perform with older technology.

The main reason for this impressive surge of Surgical Tech Jobs, however, is the growing population of retirement-aged baby boomers.  This generation is massive, significantly higher than ever before. As older people tend to require more surgical procedures, the need for Certified Surgical Technologists becomes increasingly dire every day.

Where are Surgical Tech Jobs?

Approximately 71 percent of all Surgical Tech Jobs are found in hospital operating and delivery rooms. The other 29 percent are divided among specialty practices, doctors offices, outpatient surgical centers, and in dental offices. Surgical Tech Jobs in specialty offices tend to be the best paying positions, but they are also the most competitive. A Certified Surgical Technologist must be at the top of their game in order to compete in this branch of employment opportunities.

Applying for Surgical Tech Jobs

Every prospective Certified Surgical Technologist employer will have varying application processes, but there are a few things that are fairly universal. To begin, it is important that the candidate possesses the highest level of Certified Surgical Technologist training they can feasibly obtain. Surgical techs with an Associate’s Degree will be more employable than those holding only a certificate.

Second, the Certified Surgical Technologist must be current with their certification. After obtaining certification, it must be renewed every five years. This can be done either by completing continuing education programs and providing the proof to the certification board or by retaking the certification exam. Many Certified Surgical Technologist choose the continued education option because it makes them more marketable for higher paying positions.

Finally, anyone applying for Surgical Tech Jobs must demonstrate why they are the best candidate for the position. It is a good idea to highlight any diplomas, degrees, or awards. A Certified Surgical Technologist may also wish to obtain a letter of recommendation either from their professor or from their previous employer.

Becoming a Certified Surgical Technologist

Before one can even think about applying for Surgical Tech Jobs, the must become a Certified Surgical Technologist. The minimum requirements to do this are to complete a 9-month certification program followed by passing the national exam. Most accredited programs are found at local colleges and technical institutes, but there are a handful of online programs as well. With the online option, an internship will be necessary to get the required hands-on training.

Earning Your Surgical Tech Certification

A career as a Certified Surgical Tech has one of the brightest employment opportunities of any certified employee. Estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to increase by 25 percent by the year 2018, the position of Certified Surgical Technologist is one that will provide uncanny job security to those who are qualified for the position. Becoming a qualified candidate takes some time, hard work, and a bit of investment, but the promise of success makes those things well worth the energy.

Training as a Surgical Tech

The path to becoming a Certified Surgical Technologist begins with education and training. The process begins by enrolling in an accredited surgical technology course. The least expensive and sometimes simplest route is by signing up for classes at a local college. Surgical Tech Certification training can take as little as 9 months for the minimum requirements to sit for the national exam.

Technical institutes and career training centers are also educational avenues that one could consider, provided that they have been accredited by the appropriate authorities. These authorities are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology. If an educational facility does not possess approval from one or both of these agencies, the coursework completed will not be considered adequate in order to sign up for the exam.

Getting Surgical Tech Certification

Once a student has found several schools from which to choose, they must then decide if they prefer to pursue a certificate, diploma, or degree. While the certificate takes the shortest amount of time, an Associate’s Degree in Surgical Technology can help to make the Certified Surgical Technologist more employable, or at the very least, more competitive. When the student has decided on the level of study to be completed, all that remains is completing the course and passing the national exam.

Certified Surgical Technologist exams are offered exclusively through The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. Surgical Tech Certification applicants must prove their eligibility to take the exam by providing evidence that they have graduated from an accredited training course. Without this evidence, students will not be considered for an exam date.

There is also an exam and processing fee that the student must pay prior to completing the exam. These fees may total $190 or $290, depending on whether or not the student is a member of the Association of Surgical Technologists. After these requirements are met, a date will be scheduled for an exam. Surgical Tech Certification applicants must keep this date to avoid forfeiture of fees.

Keeping Surgical Tech Certification Current

Once a student has passed the exam, they become a Certified Surgical Technologist. Surgical Tech Certification must be renewed every 5 years to remain current. Renewal can be made either by submitting proof of continuing education from an accredited facility or by retaking the exam. Most employers will require their Certified Surgical Technologists to remain current. Some may absorb the fee for recertification while others will not. Either way, recertification is just as important as becoming certified in the first place.

Obtaining A Surgical Technician License

If you are a high school graduate and have some background in medicine, you may be interested in starting a career as a surgical technician. The medical field is continually growing, and surgical technicians play an important role in this growth.

As a surgical technician, you will be required to work right in the operating room with all the other medical personnel. In fact, you are responsible for how well a surgery goes. Right from the beginning from prepping the patient for surgery, to making sure everything in the operating room is clean and sterile, all the way to suturing and applying bandages. A surgical technician must be ready at all times. They must be prepared to answer questions about the patient and they must possess knowledge of the operating room equipment. Therefore, a solid medical background is needed in order to succeed in your job.

There are many schools and universities that offer Surgical Technology programs. The requirements for admittance is generally a high school diploma and some knowledge of general subjects such as Biology, Math, and Writing. Having taken these courses in high school is a plus. You may be required to take an entrance exam so the school can better assess your abilities.

The type of coursework that you can expect to take during your time in school will be made up of lectures, lab work, and hands-on experience. You will be taught how to sterilize instruments, how to handle special drugs and solutions and also how to prevent and stop infections.

Your schooling will probably take up to 2 years to complete, but you will emerge fully prepared for your job ahead. Once you graduate with your degree in Surgical Technology, you will be ready to test for your Surgical Technician License or Certification. Once you pass the exam you must renew your license every 4 years.

As you enter the field of Surgical Technology you will gain knowledge and experience. You can advance by choosing a specialty area of surgery to work in, such as orthopedics or neurosurgery. You can also go back to school and become what’s known as a First Assistant. With more schooling, you are looking at more responsibility and more pay.

The average surgical technician can earn anywhere from $27,000 on the low end to $50,000 on the higher end. It is a very rewarding job that is worth looking into.