Surgical technologists assist surgeons during surgical procedures of all kinds. They are responsible for preparing the operating room before a surgical procedure, creating and maintaining a sterile environment, getting patients ready for surgery, and cleaning up and properly disposing of items after surgery is completed.
Not to be confused with a surgical assistant, who helps directly with operation itself, surgical technicians handle the operating room, monitor the patient’s vitals and monitors in surgery, hand surgical equipment to surgeons, and prepare operating theaters between surgeries.
Surgical tech programs prepare you for a great career by teaching you how to keep environments sterile and how to assist the surgical team during an operation. Read on to learn more about how long surgical technician training is, the qualifications you need to become a surgical technician, the types of classes you may take, and information about certifications for surgical technicians.
How Long is Surgical Technician Training?
Surgical technician training can last 1-2 years, depending on what type of training you choose to pursue.
A diploma program is typically shorter, lasting about one year if you attend full time. These programs have a requirement of 37-49 credit hours to complete the program. These programs only teach you what you need to know about being a surgical technician, so there’s no extra classes you have to take. This means you spend less time in school and less on classes that don’t necessarily relate to your chosen career.
Associate degree programs last about 2 years if you attend full time. You’ll need about 90 credit hours to complete the program in full. Associate programs include general education classes, like algebra, English, history, and more. The benefit of an associate degree is that you can often transfer them to a 4-year college or university to help you earn a bachelor’s degree faster. They may also make you a more appealing candidate for promotions.
Regardless of what program you choose, your training will usually have two parts: classroom and clinical work. In the classroom part of your training, you’ll focus on learning anatomy, microbiology, aseptic procedures, and more.
In the clinical part of your training, you’ll have the opportunity to shadow and assist in real surgeries in a clinical setting. You’ll get to apply the information you’ve learned in your training and prepare for future employment.
What Qualifications do I Need to Become a Surgical Technician?
In order to become a surgical technician, you need a high school diploma or GED equivalent so you can attend training. From there, you can choose the training program that fits your goals.
To become a surgical technologist, you can attend either a diploma or associate degree program. After completing both the classroom and clinical parts of the program, you can graduate and become a surgical technician.
As a surgical technician, you should be very detail-oriented, as it is extremely important to create a truly sterile and organized setting for a successful procedure, and there is little to no room for error. You should also have great communication skills and work well under pressure. You should also be able to handle blood, bodily fluids, and surgery in general.
Examples of Classes For a Surgical Technology Program
Here are some examples of classes you’ll likely take in a surgical technology program:
- Medical Terminology
- Pharmacology for Surgical Technicians
- Surgical Procedures
- Medical Law and Ethics
Do I Need to Be Certified to Work as a Surgical Tech?
No, you do not have to be certified to work as a surgical tech in most states. However, some states and some employers do require you to have the certification.
In order to become a certified surgical technologist, you must pass the CST (Certified Surgical Technologist) exam from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. The exam costs $190 for members of the Association of Surgical Technologists and $290 for non-members.
Though the exam is voluntary in many states, getting certified can still help set you apart from other candidates. Certification can show employers that your skill set is up to industry standards, making you a more appealing candidate.
Again, most states do not have any certification requirements for surgical techs, but about a dozen states do, and the number of states that do require certification is growing. Check with your state to see if there is a certification requirement.
Summing it all Up
In conclusion, becoming a surgical technologist is a great career choice. The amount of time you decide to spend in training depends on what you want to do. Regardless if you choose a certificate or associate degree program, you’ll be set up to start a great career. Find surgical technician programs in your area now to get started!