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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree Program for Surgeon Technologists

Majors Overview June 14, 2014

Those interested in a career working with a team in the operating room may want to look into associate’s degree programs as surgeon technologists. This position involves assisting nurses and doctors during operations and preparing operating rooms for surgery.

Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree Programs for Surgeon Technologists

Students enrolled in a two-year associate’s degree program for surgeon technologists are trained to seek entry-level jobs relating to the surgical technology field. Students are taught the proper ways of setting up and testing operating room instruments and equipment, holding retractors, cutting sutures, and passing supplies and instruments during a surgical operation. Apart from learning to operate diagnostic equipment, students also will become adept at cleaning and restocking the operating room after surgeries are completed.

Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Prospective students may also have to submit to criminal background checks and drug screenings before they can begin the clinical training program.


Coursework is a combination of seminars, regular coursework, and lectures. Students are also usually expected to participate in supervised internships in order to gain practical experience working in operating rooms. Coursework may include an array of technological, surgical, and medical topic areas, such as the following:

•Anatomy and physiology
•Operating room procedures
•General surgical procedures
•Pathology and diseases
•Medical terminology
•Legal issues and regulations

Job and Wage Outlook

A high job growth of 25% has been predicted for surgical technologists during the period from 2008 to 2018 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). The optimistic projection is based on the assumption that an aging population will result in an increasing number of surgical operations (BLS). The most jobs will be found in physician offices and surgical care centers. In May 2012, surgical technologists earned an average annual wage of $41,790.

Continuing Education Choices

While professional certification is voluntary, most employers prefer it, and it can boost job opportunities. The Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential is offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA); passage of a written exam is required to achieve the credential, which is valid for four years and requires 60 hours of continuing education to maintain it. Alternatively, candidates may rewrite the exam after the certification expires.

Additionally, the Tech in Surgery–Certified (TS-C) credential is offered by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). Holding an accredited surgical tech degree will make a candidate eligible for the certification exam; alternatively, the individual may either have work experience of seven years in the field or have completed two years of hands-on training. Graduates of an associate’s degree program in surgical technology may enhance their career prospects through continuing education, work experience, or specialization in a particular aspect of surgery.

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