Are you interested in a surgical technologist career? Becoming a surgical technologist or operating room technician, as it is sometimes called, is an ideal choice for those interested in an exciting occupation in the medical career field. A surgical technologist is a critically important part of an operating room team. The job description is similar to that of a dental assistant, in that surgical technologists aid the doctors and nurses who perform surgeries. Some of their common duties include, but are not limited to, prepping patients for surgery, making sure all required instruments are at hand, checking equipment to ensure it is in proper working order, and participating in the surgery itself by, for example, holding retractors or operating a suction machine.
While most surgical technologists are employed by hospitals, which are clean and friendly work environments, the job itself can be fast-paced and intense, with possible exposure to communicable diseases, hair-raising sights, and unpleasant odors. Because this job also entails long periods of standing, it is best suited to individuals with a certain level of inner fortitude and physical fitness.
The prospects for growth and job security in this profession are well above average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, increasing by an estimated 25% in the next several years. This is a result of an increased volume of surgeries driven in large part by a continually aging population, technological progress leading to increased longevity, and demand for cosmetic and other elective procedures. A willingness to relocate can be a key factor in securing a position.
The educational and training requirements for a surgical technologist career vary, but generally an individual must be a high school graduate and complete a formal training program lasting between 9 and 24 months. These are offered by numerous community colleges, hospitals, and the military, culminating in the Certified Surgical Technologist examination, or CST. Passing the CST, which is a demanding and rigorous test of the skills necessary to effectively assist in operating room surgeries, is required for anyone hoping to have a career as a surgical technologist.
Pay varies as well, but an individual with the right aptitude and qualifications can expect to earn in the neighborhood of $30,000 to $50,000 a year for those working in specialty hospitals. Advancement is possible for those with expertise in particular areas, and some are hired by insurance or equipment companies. So, if you think you might be interested in a career that will challenge your knowledge and skills as an integral member of a surgical team, if you want to make a real difference by helping patients, and if you think you would thrive in an active work environment of controlled chaos that changes every day, then a surgical technologist career could be for you.