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Surgical Technician Job Description

Surgical technicians are trained medical professionals who assist in all facets of a surgical procedure. They prepare patients and the operating room, and they assist doctors and nurses during surgeries. The goal of a surgical technician is to maintain a sterile environment throughout the entire surgical procedure. Surgical technicians usually work in hospitals; however, they can also be employed in outpatient surgical facilities and even dental offices where dental surgeries are performed.
It is important that surgical technicians are in good health since they are standing during surgeries a great deal during their day, and because they are often required to lift patients. Surgical technicians are an integral part of a surgical team and work alongside doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists and dentists.

Surgical Technician Duties

Some duties of a surgical technician can include:

  • Assisting surgeons and nurses with supplies in the operating room
  • Preparing patients for surgical procedures
  • Readying operating rooms for surgeries
  • Applying dressings to surgical incisions
  • Transporting patients from the operating room to the recovery area

Surgical technicians generally work full-time in hospitals. Therefore, they can expect to work a variety of hours and days including, nights, weekends, and holidays.

Alternate Job Titles

Surgical technicians are also known as surgical technologists, operating room technicians, and scrub techs.

How To Become A Surgical Technician

Surgical technician programs are offered at state or community colleges and vocational colleges. Prospective technicians should attend an accredited college, enroll and pass the required courses and clinical portion, apply for certification, and then pass a certification exam.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Surgical Technician?

Programs for surgical technicians differ, so depending on the school, it can take a few months or a few years to complete a program. If a student enrolls in a certification program, then he or she can expect to graduate in 6 months to a year. If the program chosen is an associate degree program, then it could take one to two years to complete. The time required in all programs will always involve coursework and a clinical component.

Education Requirements

The amount of schooling required for surgical technicians varies by state. For all programs, a high school diploma or equivalency is needed. In addition, potential students will usually need to pass a backgroundcheck and a physical exam. A certificate or diploma program can take anywhere from a few months to one year to complete. That time is spent taking courses such as anatomy and physiology, patient care procedure, and microbiology. Then, students will be required to complete a clinical component in a simulated setting or in an actual surgical setting. In an associate degree program, students will be required to take general education classes such as English, math, history, and science. This is in addition to the classes they will be required to take for the actual major and the clinical hours.


Although certification is only required in a few states, it is recommended that graduates apply for and achieve certification. This will help them to find gainful employment, since it is preferred that technicians are certified. The certification process can be attained through several agencies, and applicants must pass an exam in order to be approved. Once certified, certified surgical technicians will need to take continuing education courses every few years.


A small number of states require that surgical technicians be licensed to become employed in that particular state. In order to become licensed, surgical techs must graduate from a surgical technician program, fill out a licensing application, and pass a background check.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for surgical technicians is expected to grow at an average rate between the years of 2010 and 2020, and 17,700 new jobs will be created. The 19 percent increase in surgical technician jobs will be due to the need for surgery for the growing number of people in the United States who are aging. Detailed Surgical Tech salary data is available here.

States With Highest Employment Levels

State Hourly mean Wage Annual mean salary # Employed Employment/1000 jobs
Texas $74.11 $42,940 9,720 .92
California $76.97 $54,750 9,250 .65
Florida $63.32 $38,720 6,440 .89
New York $53.95 $46,640 5,060 .59
Ohio $65.88 $41,510 3,710 .73


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