|2015 Median Pay||$44,330 per year / $21.31 per hour|
|Entry Level Education||Associate's degree or diploma|
|Number of Jobs, 2014||99,800|
|Job growth, 2014-24||15% (much faster than average)|
Nature of the Work
Surgical technologists assist in surgical operations under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, or other surgical personnel. Surgical technologists are members of operating room teams, which most commonly include surgeons, anesthesiologists, and circulating nurses. Surgical technologists are trained to maintain the sterile field, preventing the risk of infection during surgery. Before an operation, surgical technologists help prepare the operating room by setting up the sterile field with surgical instruments and equipment, drapes, medication, and supplies. Technologists also help the surgical team put on sterile gowns and gloves.
During surgery, technologists anticipate the needs of the surgeon by passing instruments; holding retractors; preparing sutures; counting instruments, sponges, and sharps; and helping apply dressings. After surgery, surgical technologists assist with room turn-over procedures in order to prepare for the next patient. They also decontaminate and prepare surgical instruments for sterilization.
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.
Surgical technologists held about 99,800 jobs in 2014. About 70 percent of jobs for surgical technologists were in hospitals, mainly in operating and delivery rooms. Other jobs were in offices of physicians or dentists who perform outpatient surgery and in outpatient care centers, including ambulatory surgical centers. A few technologists, known as private scrubs or first assistants, are employed directly by surgeons.
Employment of surgical technologists is expected to grow 15 percent between 2014 and 2024. The number of surgical procedures is expected to continue to rise as the population grows and ages. In addition, technological advances, such as fiber optics, robotics, and laser technology, have permitted an increasing number of new surgical procedures to be performed and also have allowed surgical technologists to assist with a greater number of procedures. Job opportunities will be best for technologists who are certified and for those who are willing to relocate.
Median annual wages of wage-and-salary surgical technologists were $44,330 in May 2015. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,410 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $63,410. Wages of surgical technologists vary with experience and education, the responsibilities of the position, the working hours, and the economy of a given region of the country.