a dark blue TraitLab logo
Sign up

Have an account? Sign in

Career profile Surgical Technician

Also known as Certified Surgical Tech/First Assistant, Certified Surgical Technician, Certified Surgical Technologist (CST), Operating Room Surgical Technician (OR St), Operating Room Technician (OR Tech), Operating Room Technologist (OR Tech), Surgical Scrub Technician, Surgical Scrub Technologist (Surgical Scrub Tech), Surgical Technician, Surgical Technologist (Surgical Tech)

Surgical Technician

Also known as Certified Surgical Tech/First Assistant, Certified Surgical Technician, Certified Surgical Technologist (CST)

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Social
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$34,120 - $73,110 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Monitoring
  • Active Listening
  • Operations Monitoring
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Education and Training
Core tasks
  • Maintain a proper sterile field during surgical procedures.
  • Count sponges, needles, and instruments before and after operation.
  • Scrub arms and hands and assist the surgical team to scrub and put on gloves, masks, and surgical clothing.
Is Surgical Technician the right career path for you?

Would Surgical Technician be a good fit for you?

Explore how your personality fits with Surgical Technician and hundreds of other career paths.

Create your free account

What does a Surgical Technician do?

Surgical Technicians assist in operations, under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, or other surgical personnel.

In addition, Surgical Technicians may help set up operating room, prepare and transport patients for surgery, adjust lights and equipment, pass instruments and other supplies to surgeons and surgeons' assistants, hold retractors, cut sutures, and help count sponges, needles, supplies, and instruments.

What kind of tasks does a Surgical Technician perform regularly?

Surgical Technicians are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Maintain a proper sterile field during surgical procedures.
  • Count sponges, needles, and instruments before and after operation.
  • Scrub arms and hands and assist the surgical team to scrub and put on gloves, masks, and surgical clothing.
  • Provide technical assistance to surgeons, surgical nurses, or anesthesiologists.
  • Prepare patients for surgery, including positioning patients on the operating table and covering them with sterile surgical drapes to prevent exposure.
  • Hand instruments and supplies to surgeons and surgeons' assistants, hold retractors and cut sutures, and perform other tasks as directed by surgeon during operation.
  • Wash and sterilize equipment, using germicides and sterilizers.
  • Monitor and continually assess operating room conditions, including patient and surgical team needs.
  • Prepare, care for, and dispose of tissue specimens taken for laboratory analysis.
  • Prepare dressings or bandages and apply or assist with their application following surgery.
  • Operate, assemble, adjust, or monitor sterilizers, lights, suction machines, or diagnostic equipment to ensure proper operation.
  • Clean and restock operating room, gathering and placing equipment and supplies and arranging instruments according to instructions, such as a preference card.
  • Order surgical supplies.
  • Observe patients' vital signs to assess physical condition.

The above responsibilities are specific to Surgical Technicians. More generally, Surgical Technicians are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.

What is a Surgical Technician salary?

The median salary for a Surgical Technician is $49,710, and the average salary is $51,510. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Surgical Technician salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Surgical Technicians earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Surgical Technicians earn less than $34,120 per year, 25% earn less than $41,010, 75% earn less than $60,980, and 90% earn less than $73,110.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Surgical Technicians is expected to change by 8.7%, and there should be roughly 9,000 open positions for Surgical Technicians every year.

Median annual salary
$49,710
Typical salary range
$34,120 - $73,110
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
8.7%

What personality traits are common among Surgical Technicians?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Surgical Technician are usually higher in their Realistic, Social, and Conventional interests.

Surgical Technicians typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Surgical Technicians typically have strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Lastly, Surgical Technicians typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Surgical Technician tend to value Support, Relationships, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Surgical Technicians very strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Surgical Technicians very strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Surgical Technicians moderately value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Surgical Technicians must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, dependability, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Surgical Technicians, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

What education and training do Surgical Technicians need?

Surgical Technicians often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Surgical Technicians usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Surgical Technicians

  • 1.2% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 12.2% completed high school or secondary school
  • 32.7% completed some college coursework
  • 40.5% earned a Associate's degree
  • 11.9% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 1.1% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.5% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Surgical Technicians

Surgical Technicians may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, medicine and dentistry, or education and training knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Surgical Technicians might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Medicine and Dentistry
Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Psychology
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

Important Abilities needed by Surgical Technicians

Surgical Technicians must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Surgical Technicians need abilities such as oral comprehension, near vision, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Surgical Technicians, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Speech Recognition
The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
Arm-Hand Steadiness
The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.

Critical Skills needed by Surgical Technicians

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Surgical Technicians frequently use skills like monitoring, active listening, and operations monitoring to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Surgical Technicians, ranked by their relative importance.

Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Time Management
Managing one's own time and the time of others.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.