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.

Are You Ready To Take Your Surgical Technician Exam?

There are many things you need to do before taking your Surgical Technicians Exam. This is not a test you can simply sign up for and take. Most places require that you do enroll in some sort of study, whether it’s a degree program offered by a university or a community college. There may also be a vocational school in your area.


Most programs generally take from 9 months to 2 years. One thing you should make sure of is that the program you enroll in is accredited. This means that the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) has approved the program. The only way to get certified is to have attended an accredited program. Having an accredited degree will give you more leverage in the work field. You will be highly qualified to find a job. Most employers will be looking to hire certified technicians.


Once you have graduated from an accredited program, you need to take a surgical technician exam. The exam is administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). The exam is a multiple choice exam. Once you pass the exam you are considered a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST).

Another center that offers an exam is the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). Those who pass this exam are certified as a Tech in Surgery (TS-C). The difference in certification is just which center the test was taken. They are both national centers for certification. Your certification needs to be updated every 4 years.


As with every test you take, the key is being prepared. If you have studied hard and take your studies seriously, you should do fine on the exam. Make sure you take good notes during your course of study. Remember to check back frequently to your notes to keep ideas fresh. There is a lot to learn, so staying on top of it is necessary. Always have a quiet place to study. Stay organized and be prepared. Sometimes it helps to work with a group. Others may have ideas or questions that you have been wondering about also. The most important thing is to have confidence in yourself and know that you can do this!


Once you are a certified CST, you can further your career and become a First Assistant or Surgical Assistant. There are so many possibilities as this field is expected to grow.

Earn A Surgical Technology Diploma

Most schools offer an Associates degree program where you can receive your degree in surgical technology, but there is an alternate route that you can take where you receive a diploma in less time, but you can still be certified as a surgical technician. There are pros and cons for taking this route. A pro is that you can achieve your goal in a shorter period of time, and hence you would save money on your education. A con would be that someone else who has gone on to earn an associates degree would be more qualified for a position and you may, in fact, lose out on job opportunities.

In any event, to qualify for any enrollment you must have a High School diploma. Each school has different steps you must take prior to enrollment. Some may include assessment tests, background checks and/or physical exams.

Once you are enrolled, you must begin with General Education courses. Having a strong background in Math, Science and Writing either on a high school level or introductory college level is beneficial. While most of your training will be hands-on, you must be strong in these areas in order to succeed. Some classes you can expect to take are Intro To Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology and Basic Psychology. Some of the instruments and tools you will be expected to use are sponges and needles. Your job is to make sure everything is sterile and counted for, before and after surgery. You may be required to prep patients, hand tools to doctors during an operation, and clean areas of operation and apply bandages. You will be expected to scrub in and possibly scrub the hands and arms of doctors and assistants. You must be able to use such equipment as electro-surgical tools, staplers, surgical lasers, and surgical suction machines. During your program, you will probably be offered an internship, where you will work hands-on to gain experience.

Although this is generally unpaid, it does count as college credits. Once you complete your program, either for your surgical technology diploma or degree, you are ready to take the National Certification Exam.

The total cost for schooling to earn your diploma is generally under $6,000. although some schools may be significantly more. Your best bet is to shop around for the school that is right for you. This course of study is usually not offered online, so you need to find a school in your area. Good Luck!

Becoming A Surgical Technology Instructor

Starting a career in medicine is a good choice these days, but sometimes it seems overwhelming. It’s too hard. It will cost too much! I’ll never make it! These are all things we’ve heard or said ourselves. But there is hope and opportunity out there. By becoming a certified surgical technician you can be on your way to a great career.

The first step is to find an accredited program where you can earn your degree in Surgical Technology. This generally takes 2 years. There is a wide range of tech schools, colleges, and universities that offer such programs. You need to find a school that is right for you. Once you enroll you will be taking courses such as Anatomy & Physiology and Microbiology. Your day will consist of lectures, labs, and hands-on experience. You will be familiar with many different surgical devices and equipment.

Some of you out there may already be a CST (certified surgical technician), which means you have already earned your degree and have passed your exam. Once you have a good amount of experience, you may be ready for a change. By becoming a Surgical Technology Instructor, you can help your fellow “scrubs” to reach their goals too.

The field of surgical technology is ever expanding and changing. With the invention of lasers and fiber optics, more training is needed and the demand for more technicians is on the rise. You can be a part of this, by choosing to become a surgical technology instructor. Many colleges are looking for qualified candidates with their CST certification and several years of experience. As an instructor, your responsibilities will include: teaching the modules that you, in fact, learned in your studies. You must teach according to the state’s standards and the college’s curriculum. You will be in charge of monitoring your student’s progress and administering grades according to the college’s policies.

This can be a very awarding job. Most companies offer competitive salaries with benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid holidays and reimbursement for any continuing education.

If you have a passion for learning and enjoy what you do, you should think about going into a career where you can help others like you. Teaching can be a very rewarding job. By becoming a Surgical Technology Instructor you will not only be advancing your career, but you will be providing a valuable learning experience for someone just starting out.