Surgical Tech Degrees
Surgical techs provide support during medical operations by performing numerous tasks. Read about degree programs in surgical technology, and learn what course topics you'd study as a student. Review the requirements for voluntary certification as a surgical tech, and check the job outlook and salary potential.
What Surgical Tech Degree Programs Are Available?
The highest level of education offered for a surgical tech is an associate's degree. Various 2-year programs can result in an Associate of Applied Science or an Associate of Science degree. You can find most surgical tech associate's degrees at technical and community colleges.
Online programs in this field are rare. Your program may require you to complete internships, externships, a practicum or clinical work. For example, hands-on training may teach you proper operating room procedures, sterilization methods and surgical instrument placement.
|Degree Types||Associate of Applied Science degree, Associate of Science degree|
|Common Courses||Physiology, pathology, medical terminology, operating room procedures, ethics|
|Certification||Certification is available through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) or the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT)|
|Median Salary (2018)||$47,300 (for all surgical technologists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Courses Can I Expect?
Your program may educate you on how to apply dressings to wounds, what surgical instruments are required for different operations, how to follow surgeon directions, how to prepare patients for surgery and how to arrange lighting in the operating room. You can expect to take courses in anatomy, physiology, pathology, diseases, medical terminology, operating room procedures, microbiology and ethics. Some programs may also require you to complete general education courses in English composition, mathematics, communications and speech.
What Can I Do With My Education?
Although certification may not be required for this field, many companies have a preference for certified professionals. Certification is available through two organizations. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offers a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) designation and the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) offers the Tech in Surgery (TS-C) designation.
If you intend to advance your career, you may be able to focus in a specialized field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that you can also rise to the position of first assistant with training and experience (www.bls.gov). If you decide you want to continue your education, you may qualify for a bachelor's degree program specializing in health services.
What Is My Job Outlook?
According to the BLS, this career field is expected to increase 12% between 2016 and 2026. This increase may be caused by a growth in surgical procedures as the population ages. Technological advances have also caused the creation of new procedures. The BLS also estimated that, as of May 2018, the median salary for surgical technicians was $47,300.