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Surgical Technologist

Career Overview: Surgical Technologist

Surgical technologists work in hospital operating rooms under the supervision of a registered nurse or a physician, assisting in the surgery. They are also called scrubs or operating room (OR) technicians, and act as part of the surgical team. They set up the operating room, preparing sterile areas and laying out surgical tools.

Surgical technologists also prepare the patient by cleaning and shaving the area where the surgical incision is to be made. They bring the patient to the operating room and position him or her on the table. The technologist will also chart the patient's vital signs and assist doctors and nurses with putting on sterile gowns and gloves.

Required Education

Surgical technology training programs last one to two years, resulting in certification, a diploma or an associates degree. There are over four hundred educational institutions certified to train surgical technologists.

There is a national exam for individual certification, which leads to recognition by the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist. This is the CST certification or designation, which is maintained by continuing education and renewed every four years.


In 2007 there were 86,000 surgical technologists working in the U.S. About three quarters of them worked in hospitals; the balance were employed in doctors' offices or ambulatory surgical centers.

Job Outlook

The number of surgical technologist jobs is expected to grow much faster than the overall national job increase. Surgical procedures are expected to increase due to the aging population and longer life spans.

Salary Range

Lowest 10%  $12.81  $26,650
Median Salary  $18.05  $37,540
Highest 10%  $25.27  $52,550

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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