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How Do I Become a Certified Scrub Technician? - Training & Requirements

Get to know the type of education and training you'll need to become a certified scrub technician. Find out more about the certification types, essential skills, projected job growth, and median income for this career path.

Career Information at a Glance

Certified scrub technicians, also known as surgical technologists, are responsible for assisting surgeons, physicians, and other medical staff in surgical procedures. They play a variety of roles throughout the process from before the surgery begins until after its completion. In the table below, you'll find the education requirements, available certifications, projected job growth, and median income for all surgical technologists.

Education Required Postsecondary diploma, certificate or associate's degree
Education Field of Study Surgical technology
Certification Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) or Tech in Surgery; CPR and life support certifications typically required as well
Key Skills Stress-management skills, physical stamina, dexterity, and detail-oriented
Job Growth (2018-2028) 9% (for all surgical technologists)*
Median Income (2018) $47,300 (for all surgical technologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Certified Scrub Technician Do?

Certified scrub technicians assist a larger team of medical staff in the successful completion of surgical procedures. They are responsible for preparing the operating room for surgery by ensuring that all equipment is available and has been sterilized. During the procedures, certified scrub technicians assist surgeons by providing them with the necessary surgical equipment when called upon, holding internal organs in place, and for setting up advanced surgical equipment. After surgeries have been completed, certified scrub technicians are also responsible for applying bandages to a patient and for transferring necessary information or specimens to different medical departments for analyses. They are also responsible for ensuring that operating rooms are cleaned and restocked properly post-surgery.

What Type of Education or Training Is Required for Scrub Technicians?

In order to become a certified scrub technician, individuals must successfully complete a post-secondary education program or an associate's degree program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). These surgical technology programs can be done through medical facilities, vocational schools, community colleges, or universities and can range in length from several months to two years. The coursework consists of both formal classroom education as well as supervised clinical experience in order for students to gain applied work experience. Coursework in these programs typically includes medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, patient care and safety, and advanced medical equipment usage, among others.

What Are The Options for Certification?

Certification is not mandatory but can provide an advantage when finding a job in the medical field. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting offers a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) certification. In order to achieve this certification, candidates must prove that they have successfully completed a CAAHEP-accredited education program or a military training program and must pass a written exam. Likewise, The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) offers a Tech in Surgery - Certified certification. The eligibility requirements for this type of certification include formal education, military training, or satisfactory work experience. A passing score on a written exam that tests an individual's surgical care and other skills is also required. Both certifications require that candidates maintain their certifications through continued education coursework. It is also common that employers request that certified scrub technicians obtain their CPR and Basic Life Support certifications as well.

What Skills Are Important for This Role?

It is important for certified scrub technicians to have stress-management skills due to the stressful nature of working in an operating room during high-risk and complex surgeries. During these surgeries, certified scrub technicians are required to stand for long periods of time and must be able to hold and reach for specific tools. Thus, physical stamina and dexterity are both required in their daily work. Because the work they do can directly affect a patient's health or a surgeon's abilities, it is important that every decision is made carefully. Being detail-oriented is essential for certified scrub technicians.

How Much Does a Certified Scrub Technician Make?

As of May 2018, surgical technologists earned a median annual income of $47,300, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. For certified scrub technicians that work in hospitals, hours in surgery can be long. Oftentimes, they are required to be available to work long shifts on nights, weekends, and holidays. The BLS projected that between 2018 and 2028, employment for surgical technologists would increase by 9%. As the U.S. population continues to age, the number of required surgeries is projected to grow. Thus, certified scrub technicians will be needed to accompany surgeons and other medical staff in such procedures.