Surgical Tech Job Description

Surgical technologists are part of the surgical team.  A surgical tech is handing instruments to another team member.

Surgical technologists are part of the surgical team.  A surgical tech is handing instruments to another team member.

Surgical Tech Job Description: Surgical technologists, also called scrubs, surgical techs, or operating room technicians, assist in surgical operations under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, or other surgical personnel. Surgical techs are members of operating room teams, which most commonly include surgeons, anesthesiologists, circulating nurses, and other assistive personnel.

Surgical tech job descriptions include preparing the operating room by setting up surgical instruments and equipment, sterile drapes, and sterile solutions. They assemble both sterile and non-sterile equipment, as well as check and adjust it to ensure it is working properly.

Technologists also get patients ready for surgery by washing, shaving, and disinfecting incision sites. They transport patients to the operating room, help position them on the operating table, and cover them with sterile surgical drapes. They also observe patients’ vital signs, check charts, and help the surgical team put on sterile gowns and gloves.

During surgery, technologists pass instruments and other sterile supplies to surgeons and surgeon assistants. They may hold retractors, cut sutures, and help count sponges, needles, supplies, and instruments. Surgical technologists help prepare, care for, and dispose of specimens taken for laboratory analysis and help apply dressings. Some operate sterilizers, lights, or suction machines, and help operate diagnostic equipment.

Working Environment

Surgical technologists work in clean, well-lighted, cool environments. They must stand for long periods and remain alert during operations. At times, they may be exposed to communicable diseases and unpleasant sights, odors, and materials. Most surgical technologists work a regular 40-hour week, although they may be on call or work nights, weekends, and holidays on a rotating basis.

Training and Qualifications - to be a Surgical Tech

Training programs last 9 to 24 months and lead to a certificate, diploma, or associate degree. Professional certification can help in getting jobs and promotions.

Formal training programs are offered by vocational schools, universities and the military. Certification as a surgical tech is preferred by most employers and can be obtained by meeting the requirements as set forth by the Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist.

Licensing and Credentialing

Currently there are no licensing requirements to be a surgical tech. Most employers do prefer certification. The requirements for basic certification are to graduate from a certified program of surgical technologist training and pass a national exam.

Some states require registration to work in the state.  A registration works similar to a licensing process.  Applicants must pass a background check, verify educational requirements, and pay a fee to be registered to work as a registered surgical technician.


Significant Points of the Surgical Tech Job Description

Employment is expected to grow much faster than average.

Job opportunities will be best for technologists who are certified.

Training programs last 9 to 24 months and lead to a certificate, diploma, or associate degree.

Hospitals will continue to be the primary employer, although much faster employment growth is expected in other health care industries.

Career Progression

Technologists advance by specializing in a particular area of surgery, such as neurosurgery or open heart surgery. They also may work as circulating technologists. With additional training, some technologists advance to surgical first assistant.

Some surgical technologists manage central supply departments in hospitals, or take positions with insurance companies, sterile supply services, and operating equipment firms.

Resources for Surgical Technologist Job Description:

Surgical Technologist: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

Association of Surgical Technologists