Surgical techs are allied health professionals that work in the operating room. The operating room is a demanding environment, requiring careful planning and attention to both the surgeon and the patient, which is why surgical techs are such a vital part of the team. They are primarily focused on maintaining a sterile, organized environment as well as ensuring patient safety, however, they also perform a variety of tasks before, during, and after medical procedures. These often include cleaning and preparing the OR for surgery, transporting patients, administering medications, and suturing and dressing wounds.
Unlike many healthcare careers, those interested in becoming a surgical technologist can enter the field quickly and job opportunities are on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists a projected growth in employment of 9% for surgical techs through 2028. Surgical techs enjoy above-average earning potential and since they mostly work in hospitals, employment opportunities abound nationwide.
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Surgical Technologist salary
Surgical technologists are in-demand among allied professionals and can earn a competitive salary. According to BLS data, surgical techs in staff positions earned an average annual salary of $48,300 in 2019. This works out to about $929 per week and $23.22 per hour in a 40-hour workweek. According to NurseFly data on thousands of travel jobs in healthcare, travel surgical techs earned an average gross weekly salary of $1,270 during the same year.
Travel allied health professionals may also receive housing allowances and per diems for meals or incidentals in addition to a base salary as part of their compensation package. These stipends are often tax-free, which is why travel surgical techs can expect to earn more than equivalent staff positions in many cases.
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Surgical Tech FAQs
What are the best agencies for Surgical Tech jobs?
The agencies on NurseFly that currently have the most Surgical Tech jobs are MedPro Healthcare Allied Staffing (276), Cross Country Allied (156), and KPG Allied (122).
How Much Do Surgical Tech Jobs Pay?
For jobs available on NurseFly as of Friday, October 30th 2020, the average weekly pay for Surgical Tech jobs is $1,381, but can pay up to $2,360 per week. In 2020, Certified Surgical Technologists jobs on Nursefly paid a gross average weekly pay of $1,344 per week working an average of 36 hours per week. This includes non-taxable compensation like living stipends, meal stipends, and housing which add up to an average value of $1,179 per week.
- min - $555
- avg - $1,381
- max - $2,360
Where do Surgical Technologists work?
Most surgical technologists work in hospitals, about 72% of them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The OR provides a fast-paced environment that requires quick thinking and constant vigilance to be prepared for anything. In this setting, surgical techs must learn to anticipate both the doctor’s and patient’s needs. This requires a strong understanding of the medical procedure being administered but also the ability to navigate the operating room, quickly locate supplies, and efficiently move between tasks.
Surgical techs may also work in outpatient care centers or ambulatory surgical centers, and at physicians’ offices or dental offices where outpatient surgeries are performed. Many surgical techs work in general surgery, but some opt to work in a specific surgical specialty. Commonly chosen surgical fields include cardiology, neurosurgery, obstetrics and gynecology, reconstructive surgery, and more.
How to Become a Travel Surgical Tech?
Unlike many health care professionals, surgical techs have the unique capability to work in an operating room without a medical degree. Typically, surgical technologists need a diploma, certificate, or associate degree from a surgical technology program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Many community colleges and vocational schools, and some universities and hospitals, offer accredited programs ranging from several months to two years.
Currently, 10 states have passed laws regarding the education and certification of surgical technologists. For example, in Indiana where there is growing demand for surgical techs, operating room technicians must either complete a CAAHEP-accredited program or satisfy the National Board of Surgical Technologists and Surgical Assistants (NBSTSA) requirements for Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) certification.
Surgical techs can also earn a Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C) certification through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). Hospitals are more likely to hire trained, experienced surgical techs, but having certification allows individuals to be more competitive earlier in their career.
What do Surgical Techs do?
Surgical techs have a wide range of duties that are split into the three phases of a surgical operation: before (preoperative), during (intraoperative), and after (postoperative). They work alongside physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers to ensure a surgical operation goes smoothly, handling much of the preparation, sterilization, and organization of the instruments and equipment involved. They may also play a hands-on role during the surgery itself, suctioning an incision site, positioning the patient, or applying bandages and dressings.
These are common tasks a Surgical Tech will own at each stage of an operation:
Sterilize operating room, equipment, and instruments
Gather, count, and arrange surgical instruments and equipment
Prep patients for surgery by cleaning and disinfecting incision areas
Position patients on the table and cover them with sterile drapes
Hand instruments and supplies to surgical team members
Hold organs in place or use retractors during the procedure
Adjust positioning or settings of medical equipment
Handle specimens required for laboratory analysis
Apply dressing to wounds at the surgical site
Confirm correct ending count of instruments used during the procedure
Transfer patients to recovery rooms
Restock the operating room
What Skills that make a good Surgical Tech
Vital technical skills include expert knowledge of surgical procedures, sterilization techniques, patient care, CPR, and basic life support. Surgical techs should have good physical stamina to endure standing for extended periods as well as an eye for precision; for example, the ability to hold instruments in place, adjust a patient’s positioning, and delicately suture a wound. Remaining attentive and being able to coordinate well with other staff is critical to ensure positive outcomes for the patient and a smooth process overall.
What other names do surgical techs go by?
Surgical Techs are often referred to by various names, including surgical technologists, surgical technicians, surgery techs, operating room technicians, or scrub techs