What Education Do I Need for an Operating Room Technician Career?
Surgical technologist training programs will help prepare you for a career as an operating room technician. For this career, you'll need a diploma, a certificate, or an associate's degree. This article details the skills learned in a surgical technology degree program and the types of programs available.
Operating room technicians, also known as surgical technologists or scrubs, provide support to surgical assistants and surgeons throughout a surgical procedure. They are responsible for preparing the operating room, assembling and handling surgical tools, and cleaning the room after surgery. A related profession, that of the sterile processing technician, involves decontaminating and sterilizing surgical equipment and tools.
Important Facts About Operating Room Technicians
|Online Availability||Degrees not commonly offered online due to hands-on component|
|Degree/Certificate Prerequisites||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Degree Fields||Surgical technology|
|Median Pay (2018)||$47,300|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||12% increase in employment (faster than average)|
|Work Environment||Most work in hospitals; many employed in outpatient care centers or physicians' offices; work can be physically demanding: required to stand for long periods, may need to lift and move patients. Evening, weekend, and holiday work common|
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Operating room technicians are educated through training programs offered by vocational schools, universities, hospitals, and junior colleges. Entry into these programs, which award a certificate, diploma, or associate's degree, generally requires a high school diploma. If you're planning to enroll in an operating room technician training program, the best preparation in high school would include classes in health, biology, mathematics, and chemistry.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (www.caahep.org) accredits 466 schools offering surgical technologist programs. The most common type of education program, offered at 249 schools, results in an associate's degree. Slightly fewer schools offer certificate programs, and 124 award diplomas for operating room technicians.
Operating room technicians need to understand how they can best ensure that surgeries proceed safely and cleanly. Training programs reflect the need for this specialized vocational knowledge. An Associate of Science in Surgical Technology program provides two years of instruction in medical terminology, pharmacology, pathophysiology, and surgical practice. Some operating room technician programs, including those affiliated with the Mayo Clinic, may also provide you with clinical experience.