Surgical technology is a growing field that provides individuals the opportunity to work in a medical setting and play a role in helping patients. Learn everything you need to know to become a surgical technologist including educational requirements what this career all entails.
Educational Requirements for Surgical Techs
Surgical technologists usually have post-secondary certificates or associate degrees in surgical technology. These type of programs take one to two years to complete and can be found at community colleges or technical colleges. Surgical techs who have gained work experience often obtain on-the-job training and become surgical technologist first assistants.
To be successful in the surgical tech program, you must complete not only the medical classes but must also complete a specified number of hours in a supervised internship. Students complete general and medical courses such as anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, sterilization techniques, operating room procedures and pharmacology. Time spend internships or clinical education provides the student with hands-on practical experience and familiarize them with operating room tools, equipment and supplies.
What About Licensure?
Surgical techs are not required to be licensed in any of the states. Certification is also not a legal requirement; however voluntary certification can improve employment options and wage potential. In addition, most employers prefer hiring surgical techs who are certified. To obtain certification, you must first complete an accredited training program from an approved school and pass a certification exam.
Certification exams are computer-based exams that are administrated through certifying organizations such as the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. There are several agencies where surgical techs can gain certification. Once you become certified you can use the credential Certified Surgical Technician (CST). Depending on the agency, you may be required to complete continuing education every couple of years to maintain certification.
Surgical Tech Training Programs
One of the requirements surgical techs must meet before they can be certified is to complete a surgical technology training program from an accredited school. Therefore, it’s extremely important to look for schools that are ABHES or CAAHEP-accredited. There are currently more than 500 accredited surgical tech programs in the United States.
Both the CAAHEP and the ABHES provide a directory of accredited surgical tech programs in each state on their websites. Although each state may vary with its requirements, most states have requirements regarding the number of hours of coursework and clinical education the student must complete.