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Overview of Surgical Technology Associate Degree Program

Majors Overview March 4, 2014

Surgical technicians, also called surgical technologists, are part of the surgical team. Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree programs will prepare students for this career by training them to assist surgeons and preparing patients for procedures. Professional certifications are available after completing the program.

A.A. Programs in Surgical Technology

Students enrolled in Associate’s degree programs are trained to seek entry-level occupations as surgical technologists whose duties involve providing assistance to surgeons through preparation of the operating room for a surgical procedure. Though their main responsibility requires them to keep the environment sterile, surgical technologists are also required to have the proper equipment in place and ready the patient for surgery. Prospective surgical technologists should ensure that they enroll in programs that carry accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

Clinical rotations are included in surgical technology programs whereby students are placed in healthcare facilities to perform supervised work on the watch of licensed medical professionals. As the program advances, the intensity of the rotations increases and greater responsibilities are given to the students. A satisfactory level of performance can ensure the eligibility of students for the next subsequent rotation.

Educational Prerequisites

Typically, admission criteria in surgical technology programs require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Student may be required in some programs to complete science and math classes earning a satisfactory grade point average before they are allowed to begin core coursework. Students may also be required to pass a dexterity test.


Coursework within surgical technology programs includes classroom lectures in science and surgical procedures combined with laboratory studies. Psychology and microbiology are among common general education requirements that students need to satisfy. Coursework in a surgical technology program may include:

•Medical terminology
•Medical law and ethics
•Surgical technology equipment
•Anatomy and physiology
•Surgical pharmacology

Career Choices

There are many surgical technologists employed in hospitals within the United States, but these professionals can also seek job opportunities in outpatient care centers, dental offices and physicians’ offices. A far-better-than-average job growth rate of 30% has been predicted for surgical technologists during the decade from 2012 to 2022 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). In 2012, surgical technologists took home an average annual wage of $41,790.

Certification Choices

Although certification isn’t mandatory, surgical technologists may consider professional certification. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting offer both the Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) credentials and the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credentials. Passage of a qualifying exam and satisfaction of educational standards are required for both credentials. Minimum experience requirements have to be satisfied by candidates holding a CST who wish to earn the CSFA. Certification can be maintained through continuing education.

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