How to Become a Surgical Tech

A surgical tech assists surgeons and registered nurses to perform invasive procedures, as well as to assemble all of the needed materials for the surgery, assist with scrubbing in, maintain a count of items in the surgery and hand instruments to the professionals performing the surgery, and to become a surgical tech requires graduation from a recognized program and certification.

Education and Certification


The minimum level of education is graduate with a high school diploma or the equivalent. Most surgical techs complete a nine to twenty-four month surgical tech program at a college. According to College Navigator, there are almost five hundred surgical technologist programs in the US and there are over two hundred programs that offer an associate's degree for surgical technologists.

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offers certification for surgical techs. The eligibility requirements include graduation from one of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) approved surgical technology programs, a list of which is available on their website. Accredited surgical tech programs are also listed on the website of the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

Once you have graduated from an accredited program, you must apply to take and pass the Surgical Technologist Examination. You will need to renew your certification every four years. Once certified, your name and Social Security Number is added to a database, so prospective employers can verify your credentials prior to making a job offer.

Tips and Advice


If currently in high school, complete classes in biology and chemistry, as well the prerequisites for applying to the surgical technologist program of your choice. Learn medical terminology, especially terminology for surgery and surgical procedures. It is possible to view surgical procedures online or on television, and though they do not include the smell and sound of surgery, they will help you with some terminology and to decide if you can handle viewing a surgery up close.

Complete CPR training. Though it is not often mentioned on job postings for surgical tech positions, it is usually required that the applicant have Basic Life Support (BLS) training. However, without CPR and with no experience working in the health care industry, it is impossible to come the BLS training. So sign up for CPR classes now and include the credential on your resume when applying for positions. CPR training can take one day to complete and can be completed on weekends and it is essential training for many entry-level health care positions.

Be in good physical condition. Though surgical techs do not need to be physically strong, they do not need to have endurance, since they spend two-thirds or more of their shift on their feet and they bend, kneel and reach while at work. Some procedures can be quite lengthy, lasting several hours, so good physical condition, such as stamina and alertness, while in stressful conditions is a must.

Different Types


Though there are different names to describe this field, such as operating room technicians, these positions are similar. A surgical tech could also specialize in certain surgeries or procedures or be promoted to the primary surgery tech with additional experience. There are also careers in the military for this occupation.