Becoming a surgical technologist is a rewarding career path for those interested in the medical field. As essential members of the surgical team, surgical technologists ensure that operations are conducted smoothly and efficiently. In this detailed guide, we will walk you through the steps necessary to become a surgical technologist, covering educational requirements, certification, job responsibilities, and career prospects.

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Educational Requirements

High School Diploma or GED

The first step towards a career as a surgical technologist is obtaining a high school diploma or GED. Courses in biology, chemistry, and health are particularly beneficial for aspiring surgical technologists.

Accredited Surgical Technology Programs

To become a surgical technologist, one must complete an accredited surgical technology program. These programs are available at community colleges, technical schools, and universities, and typically take 12 to 24 months to complete.

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Coursework and Clinical Training

The curriculum includes both classroom instruction and hands-on clinical training. Key subjects covered in these programs include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Microbiology
  • Sterilization Techniques
  • Surgical Procedures
  • Patient Care and Safety

Suggested Diagram: Education Pathway to Becoming a Surgical Technologist

graph LR
A[High School Diploma or GED] –> B[Accredited Surgical Technology Program]
B –> C[Classroom Instruction]
B –> D[Clinical Training]
C –> E[Anatomy and Physiology]
C –> F[Medical Terminology]
C –> G[Microbiology]
C –> H[Sterilization Techniques]
C –> I[Surgical Procedures]
C –> J[Patient Care and Safety]
D –> K[Hands-On Experience]

Certification and Licensing

Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) Credential

After completing an accredited program, aspiring surgical technologists should pursue certification. The most recognized certification is the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential, offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

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Certification Exam

The CST certification exam covers a range of topics, including:

  • Perioperative Care
  • Instrumentation
  • Sterile Processing
  • Surgical Procedures
  • Patient Safety

State Licensing

Some states require surgical technologists to be licensed. Requirements vary by state, so it is essential to check the specific regulations in your area.

Job Responsibilities

Preoperative Duties

Before an operation, surgical technologists are responsible for:

  • Preparing the operating room by sterilizing equipment and ensuring all necessary supplies are available.
  • I am setting up surgical instruments and equipment.
  • Assisting with patient preparation, including positioning and draping.

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Intraoperative Duties

During surgery, surgical technologists:

  • Pass instruments and supplies to surgeons and surgical assistants.
  • Maintain a sterile environment to prevent infections.
  • Operate specialized equipment, such as suction machines and diagnostic devices.

Postoperative Duties

After surgery, surgical technologists:

  • Help transport patients to recovery rooms.
  • Clean and restock the operating room.
  • Ensure that all instruments are accounted for and properly sterilized.

Career Prospects

Employment Opportunities

Surgical technologists can find employment in various healthcare settings, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient Surgery Centers
  • Physicians’ Offices
  • Specialty Clinics

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Job Outlook

The demand for surgical specialists is expected to grow due to the increasing number of surgical procedures. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is projected to grow by 7% from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

Advancement Opportunities

With experience and additional education, surgical specialists can advance to roles such as:

  • Surgical First Assistant
  • Sterile Processing Supervisor
  • Surgical Technology Instructor


A career as a surgical specialist offers a fulfilling and dynamic work environment with excellent growth prospects. By following the educational pathway, obtaining certification, and gaining hands-on experience, you can embark on a successful career in surgical technology.

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