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Surgical Technologist: Career Information

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Surgical technologist passing a cystotome needle for cataract surgery
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Job Description - Surgical Technologist:

A surgical technologist assists in surgery. He or she works under the supervision of surgeons and registered nurses as a member of the operating room team. A surgical technologist may also be called a surgical or operating room technician or a scrub tech.

Employment Facts - Surgical Technologist:

There were 91,500 surgical technologists employed in 2008.

Educational Requirements - Surgical Technologist:

To become a surgical technologist one must complete a formal program which consists of a combination of classroom instruction and clinical training. This usually takes between 9 and 12 months and results in one earning a certificate, diploma or associate degree. These formal training programs are offered by community and junior colleges, vocational schools, universities, hospitals and the military.

Other Requirements - Surgical Technologist:

Employers prefer job candidates who have been certified by the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist. To receive this certification one must graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and pass a written exam.

Advancement Opportunities - Surgical Technologist:

Surgical technologists advance by specializing in a particular area of surgery, such as neurosurgery or open-heart surgery.

Job Outlook - Surgical Technologist:

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job growth for surgical technologists will be much faster than the average for all occupations through 2018.

Earnings - Surgical Technologist:

Surgical technologists earned a median annual salary of $39,400 in 2009.

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much a surgical technologist currently earns in your city.

A Day in a Surgical Technologist's Life:

On a typical day a surgical technologist's tasks might include:

  • setting up surgical instruments and equipment, sterile drapes and sterile solutions in the operating room
  • assembling both sterile and nonsterile equipment
  • checking and adjusting surgical equipment to make sure it is working properly
  • preparing patients for surgery by washing, shaving and disinfecting incision sites
  • transporting patients to the operating room
  • positioning patients on the operating table and covering them with sterile surgical drapes
  • observing patients' vital signs and checking charts
  • handing instruments to surgeons and surgical assistants
  • holding retractors and cutting sutures
  • transfering patients to the recovery room

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Surgical Technologist, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos106.htm (visited January 20, 2010).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Surgical Technologist, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/29-2055.00 (visited December 7, 2010).

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