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Surgery Tech

Education and Training On-the-job training, certificate program or associate’s degree
Average Salary $38,740
Job Outlook Excellent

Surgery techs, also known as scrub techs or operating room technicians, are allied health professionals who ensure that patients and surgical equipment are ready for surgery. While a large part of a surgery tech’s job involves keeping surgical instruments and the operating room sterile and safe, surgical techs also perform other duties such as maintaining patient records, preparing wound coverings for patients, and closing surgical incisions.

Education and Training Requirements

Surgery techs usually take 9 to 15 months to complete a certificate or degree program. An associate’s degree from a community college is increasingly becoming the preferred level of training for entry-level surgical techs. Some hospitals may have on-the-job training programs.

Surgery techs working in the U.S. must pass the either the National Center for Competency Testing or the Liaison Council on Certification exam before becoming a certified surgical tech.

Getting the Job

Upon finishing their training, surgery techs should apply to doctor’s offices and hospitals. Most will begin working in a hospital setting, as doctor and dentist’s office jobs are considered plumb assignments for experienced surgery techs. An associate’s degree is usually a leg up in the job hunt, and is starting to be preferred to other training certificates and programs.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

For people seeking employment in the medical field, working as a surgery technician is a great job for those with a good grasp of basic medical knowledge, a steady disposition, meticulous cleaning habits, and good interpersonal skills.

As the U.S. population ages, the demand for medical personnel in all areas of the health care industry is expected to continue to rise. Surgery techs are no exception. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that the number of surgical technicians will increase by about 24 percent by 2016. This exceeds the growth rate for most industries and speaks well of the employment potential for surgical techs. Also, a growing number of surgical procedures made available by improving medical technology is also spurring an increase in demand for surgical techs.

With the current economic downturn likely to depress employment for the foreseeable future, surgical tech offers a dependable area of employment, with opportunities in virtually every community in the U.S.

Surgery techs can further their career by eventually moving up to supervisory positions over other surgery techs or by becoming a specialist in a particular surgery field.

Working Conditions and Environment

Surgery techs mostly work in hospitals, and as can be expected, face many of the same pressures that hospital doctors and nurses endure. For the 71 percent of surgery techs who do work in a hospital environment, long hours and life and death situations are a matter of course. Surgery techs who do not work in hospitals typically work in doctor or dentists’ offices that provide outpatient medical services.

Salary and Benefits

The salary for surgery techs typically ranges from between $33,028 and $47,635. The average is typically about $38,740. Benefits depend upon the employer, but most will offer health insurance coverage and other typical benefits.

Where to Go for More Information

Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions
4400 Jenifer St., NW, Ste. 333
Washington, D.C. 20015
(202) 237-6481

Association of Surgical Technicians
6 West Dry Creek Circle, Ste. 200
Littleton CO, 80120-8031
(303) 694-9130

National Surgical Assistant Association
2615 Amesbury Rd.
Winston Salem, NC 27103
(888) 633-0479

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesHealth & Medicine