Becoming a surgical technologist can be a fast-paced career that is a great option to pursue for those looking to help patients get the best surgical outcomes possible. Many young people are now pursuing this job due to the rewarding feeling of making a difference in the operating room without the lengthy education process of becoming a surgeon. In this article, we’ll be helping you understand more about what to expect for a surgical tech salary, what educational requirements you need to get hired, and what personal qualities are most important to help you excel in this position.
We’ll also be looking at the employment numbers of this field by analyzing the statistics surrounding job opportunities. We will also explain what a prospective employer would expect from you before and after becoming hired, and how to meet those expectations.
Some facilities can also refer to a surgical tech as an operating room technician. In this role, you would help perform surgeries by assisting the surgeon before, during, and after the procedure. Most positions would require you to prepare the operating rooms by assembling and organizing the needed equipment and assisting the surgeon throughout the surgical procedure.
Before an Operation
Sterilization of equipment and incision areas is an important task for this role and making sure the supplies the surgeon will need are easily available plays a key role in this position. Not only will you prepare the operating room but also the patient may need to get prepared by shaving the incision area to allow for a clean incision, or disinfecting the area by washing and sterilizing it.
Even helping the surgeon put on their gloves can be a part of maintaining a sterile operating room. Some positions may require you to help position the patient on the table and cover the patient with sterile drapes after the anesthesiologist has administered general anesthesia.
Besides preparing instruments and the patient for surgery, you may need to prepare medications or solutions needed during the operation so they can access them quickly when needed. Sometimes, robotic equipment needs to get set up or prepared for the procedure which would also be your responsibility.
During an Operation
It is also common for a surgical tech to hand the surgeon the specific tool or instrument they will use throughout the procedure, so being able to take directions and the knowledge of all operating room instruments are important skills to have. This may include creating an inventory for certain items to ensure the proper amount of supplies are present in the operating room.
You may need to take a hands-on role by holding retractors or even internal organs in place while the surgeon performs the procedure. You may need to apply suction for the surgeon, or even apply sutures to the incision area. Surgical techs can also need to handle the specimens that get taken from the patients to analyze in a lab setting.
After an Operation
Once the surgeon completes the operation, the surgical tech will dress the incision site with bandages or other dressings. The surgical tech may also need to help move the patient to their recovery room and ensure the operating room is stocked with supplies after the surgeon completes the procedure.
A Focus on Teamwork
In this position, you will need to work with many other healthcare professionals as a team to complete the surgery, so having good interpersonal communication skills will help you greatly. An operating room can be a fast-paced, tense place to work so having the ability to stay calm in high-pressure situations can be a helpful trait to assist you in your work.
Education & Certifications
In most cases, surgical techs will need a post-secondary education to qualify for a position easily. Surgical techs will need to understand the processes before, during and after surgical operations and have a deep knowledge of human anatomy. Many programs that train surgical techs are about 2 years long and cover topics such as anatomy, pharmacology, biology, physiology, medical terminology, and many other topics related to the medical field. Many of these educational programs will require the student to work in a clinical setting under supervision to get hands-on experience before being able to graduate.
Many medical facilities will provide you with basic training for facility-specific procedures after being formally hired for the position. Surgical tech can also receive training in the following areas: best practices for the safety of patients, advanced sterilization procedures, setting up medical robotic equipment, and treating infections if they occur.
Licenses and Certification
State governments will not require surgical techs to receive any specific licensing in their state of operation, but gaining certification can help the applicant in securing sought-after positions in the industry.
There are certifications job seekers can receive by completing specialized training programs provided by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting or the National Center for Competency Testing.
Some positions may require the applicant to get formally trained in CPR techniques besides other educational requirements.
Some advanced positions will require applicants to have prior experience as a surgical tech, but if you have the education or licensing, you could be a good candidate for a competitive surgical tech salary without a lot of prior experience.
Some Qualities That Will Help You
Attention To Details
When working as a surgical tech, the surgeon will need you to pay attention to operating procedures at all times. Having a keen eye for small details could be a life-saving quality to have in this line of work.
Surgical techs work primarily with their hands and rely on the dexterity of their movements to maintain a safe environment for both the surgical staff and the patient. Being able to produce the needed equipment quickly and without error is a key factor in your success as a surgical tech.
Strong Moral Integrity
Providing sterile supplies and a sterile environment is not only impossible to verify visually, but can be a repetitive process. Surgical techs must have a high level of ethics to ensure every procedure is complete every time.
Surgical technologists will need to stand for long periods of time during lengthy surgical procedures.
Calm, Cool, and Collected
In the fast-paced environment of an operating room, it is of high importance to keep calm under pressure and work harmoniously with the other members of your medical team.
Surgical Tech Salary Information
The average surgical tech salary is about $46,310 per year, which works out to be about $22.26 assuming you work a regular 40-hour work week and work all 52 weeks of the year. Keep in mind this is the median loan officer salary, which means half of all workers in this position earned more than that amount while half earned less.
Your surgical tech salary could be higher or lower depending on the surgical tech position you select for your career, and what type of facility you work in. Individuals who received the highest annual wages worked in the following facilities; outpatient care centers at $48,900 in annual income, offices of physicians at $45,980 in annual income, and offices of dentists at $44,760 in annual income.
It’s important to note that a surgical tech salary is a flat salary, meaning they get paid the same amount regardless of productivity or hours worked. Most surgical techs work full time, and some positions will expect you to stay on call during nights, weekends, and even holidays. Surgical techs can sometimes also expect to work shifts longer than 8 hours at a time.
The BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey is where the median wage data got sourced from. As of May 2017, the median annual wage for all American workers was $37,690. A surgical tech salary compares favorably against the average salary in America, making this a desirable position for those looking to make a salary that is higher than the national average.
The job outlook for this line of work is good. The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026 is 12% for this field, while the average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent, placing this position at a faster growth rate than the average. It’s estimated that there are about 107,700 jobs available as of 2016, and the projected number of jobs in 2026 is 120,300.
By becoming more educated about this prospective job, you can make a more educated decision regarding the path your career should take. In this article, we have helped you understand more about what a surgical tech salary looks like for the various positions available, explained the main factors for being a successful surgical tech, and what you can expect while working in this interesting career. By working ardently and choosing the right job opportunity for yourself, you can turn a position like being a surgical tech into a lifelong career that will be both exciting and monetarily fruitful.