Surgical Technologist – Degree & Career
Surgical technologists, also called scrubs and surgical or operating room technicians, assist in surgical operations under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses and other medical professionals. Surgical technologists help prepare the operating room by arranging instruments and sterile equipment, prep patients for procedures by washing and shaving them, and transport patients to the operating room. During surgery they may hand surgical implements to doctors and dispose of used medical supplies and clean up afterwards. Of course, the actual duties of a surgical technologist will vary from day to day and based on their level of experience.
Like most occupations, salary expectations for surgical technologists are strongly tied to experience, training and geographic location. That said, nationwide the average salary for this field is about $36,000. Some technologists may earn more if they have a good deal of experience or opt to work in private practices. Most working in this field can expect to earn salaries between $30,000 and $43,000 though higher demand areas may pay more.
Training programs to become a surgical technologist can last anywhere from 9-24 months depending on if an Associate’s degree is being earned or just a diploma or certification in the field. Students can find programs in this field at colleges, universities, the military and vocational facilities all over the United States, making getting the necessary training easy and in some cases convenient. Students should be aware that they will be required to complete not only academic studies but clinical work as well. Because most employers take preference to hiring certified technologists, most opt to get certified through the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist or National Center for Competency Testing.
Job opportunities for surgical technologists, especially those who are certified, are expected to grow quickly in the coming years. As the number of surgical procedures rises, more and more surgical technologists will be needed to assist in the operating room, making for great job security and potential for advancement. Those who wish to go beyond their initial salaries and duties can specialize in a particular area of surgery, heart or brain for example, or gain additional training and experience to work as first assistant in the operating room. Opportunities are also available in supply management, insurance companies and equipment sales.