Surgical techs are key contributors in a host of different healthcare work environments — from hospitals to physicians’ offices, outpatient care centers to dentists’ offices. For anyone who wants to pursue a career on the front lines of health — and to make tangible difference in the lives of patients — this is a great specialization to consider. Better yet, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 7 percent growth in the coming years, which is faster than the average for all occupations. So there should be no shortage of growth opportunities.
Today’s top surgical techs — they’re also sometimes called “surgical technologists,” “surgical technicians” or “operating room assistants” on various job boards — tend to wear a lot of hats, even though they’re in the middle of fast-paced work environments. Indeed, you’ll see that clearly reflected in their day-to-day responsibilities, which typically include:
- diligently sterilizing equipment, instruments, materials or supplies that will be used in a surgical procedure
- assisting in preparing operating rooms and related spaces in advance of surgical procedures
- helping prep patients before surgeries
- inventorying supplies on an ongoing basis and ensuring adequate levels of inventory at all times
- maintaining critical records, documentation, reporting and paperwork
- ensuring broad-scope compliance with a host of regulatory and health and safety requirements
- appropriately processing or disposing of specimens or samples taken in the lab
how do you become a surgical tech?
Are you an aspiring surgical tech eager to land the ideal opportunity? If so, there are two boxes to check — the first is a requirement, the second merely an added bonus on the job market. Namely:
- an associate degree, diploma or certificate specifically in surgical technology (these usually take anywhere from several months to two years to complete)
- certification from The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) or another licensed and accredited educational program
Besides those two boxes, if you want to add new skills to your wheelhouse, there are plenty of great resources out there for you to take advantage of. Check out all of the relevant medical-surgical training courses available on Udemy, our learning partner, if you aren’t sure where or how to get started.
what are the key skills of a surgical tech?
We’ve touched on the core academic requirements, but make no mistake — it takes more than that to truly thrive in this high-stakes role. The following abilities can be critical differentiators for aspiring surgical techs in today’s competitive marketplace:
- advanced listening skills
- strong verbal communication
- attentiveness to detail
- collaboration- and teamwork-oriented
- critical thinking and problem-solving aptitude
- the ability to handle stressful situations
- time management and organizational skills
- baseline physical stamina
how much does a surgical tech make?
Looking at the most recent compensation data, average hourly wages for surgical techs can be effectively bucketed into three tiers, depending on a number of factors, such as your location, market, responsibilities and level of expertise. Those three tiers?
Average national salaries can be broken down in similar fashion:
If, on the other hand, you’re looking to get much more detailed information about compensation across locations or markets, take advantage of our free salary comparison tool. It’ll give you all the inside intelligence about compensation you could possibly need.
By now, we've covered all of the relevant ins and outs of daily work for your average surgical tech in some detail. Hopefully, you have a pretty clear idea of what to expect in the role, as well as the next steps to pursue if you're looking to break into this exciting and dynamic field.
For a quick recap, we've covered:
- what surgical techs do
- training, experience and core requirements frequently associated with the role
- essential skills for success
- salary expectations for surgical techs
- … and a whole lot more!
What happens next is up to you, of course, but if you feel like you’re ready to make the next step in your career, why not search for surgical tech jobs with Randstad right now?