Surgical Technologist Career Information

The following information is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Surgical Technologists. Please visit the website for a more comprehensive breakdown of the data.



Surgical technologists assist with operations. They are also called operating room technicians. Surgical technologists prepare operating rooms, arrange equipment, and help doctors during surgeries. They have the important role of keeping an accurate count of the surgical supplies and keeping track of them so that none are accidentally left inside the patient during surgery.

Job Duties

  • Prepare operating rooms for surgery
  • Sterilize equipment and make sure there are adequate supplies for surgery
  • Ready patients for surgery, such as by washing and disinfecting incision sites
  • Assist surgeons during surgery by passing them instruments and other sterile supplies
  • Count and keep track of surgical supplies to ensure that foreign objects are not left inside patients

  • Maintain a sterile environment to prevent patient infection


National Average Annual Pay (2019): $50,110

Top 5 States

1. Alaska


2. Nevada


3. California


4. Minnesota


5. Washington


Bottom 5 States

50. West Virginia


49. Alabama


48. South Carolina


47. Vermont


46. Louisiana



To be a surgical technologist you must first be trained through a surgical technologist program. Depending on the program you may receive a certification, a non-degree award, or an associate’s degree. The typical length of time for a surgical technologist program is about 1 year. Upon completion of the program you will be eligible to take the National Certification Exam to become a certified surgical technologist.

In addition, some jobs may require you to be certified in CPR or basic life support.

  • 1. Enroll in a Surgical Technologist Program

    Program is typically about 1 year

  • 2. Take the National Certification Exam

    The exam is given by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

  • 3. Get a Job as Surgical Technologist

    Passing the National Certification Exam grants you a 2-year membership to the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) as a certified surgical technologist (CST).

  • 4. Advance Career to a Surgical First Assistant (CSFA)

    After several years of experience as a surgical technologist, you might consider taking the exam to be a surgical first assistant. A surgical first assistant works more closely with the surgeon and the surgical team, anticipating the needs of the team and being more involved with the surgery.



Surgical technologists must be able to communicate effectively to relay any issues that arise during surgery to the other members of the healthcare team.

Stress- Management Skills

Surgical technologists should work well under pressure since working in an operating room can be stressful.


Surgical technologists must be ethical and honest as they are trusted to provide sterile supplies and care for patients during surgery.

Listening Skills

Surgical technologists need to listen and respond to requests from surgeons and others on the surgical team during an operation.

Physical Stamina

Surgical technologists should be comfortable standing for extended periods.

Detail Oriented

Surgical technologists must pay close attention to their work. They need to provide the correct sterile equipment for surgeons during surgery and must keep track of all the equipment.


Surgical technologists should be comfortable working with their hands as they must provide needed equipment quickly.

Please click to geolocate button to change this value.