Best Surgical Tech Schools + Career Information – 2023

Surgical technologists make more than double the current federal minimum wage while only being required to complete a short educational program. People in this position are often referred to as operating room technicians, and you can expect to provide assistance to surgeons and other medical professionals when you pursue this career. The current rate of demand for surgical techs is increasing, which means that you can expect to easily find a position within your preferred healthcare field shortly after you complete your education. You can use our list of the 5 best surgical tech programs to begin planning the next step toward a lucrative career.


What is the Goal of a Surgical Technology Program?

A surgical technology educational program is designed to teach you the skills that you need to assist surgeons with patient care in operating rooms. As you work through the program, you will practice performing surgical tech duties such as setting up the operating room according to the surgeon’s preference card. You will also learn the concepts that you need to know to pass the certification exam such as how to recognize potential safety hazards and take action to eliminate them during a surgical procedure.

Program Cost

Hospitals and other medical facilities establish standard education requirements for surgical techs. While some only require a certificate, others require an associate’s degree. The type of program that you attend naturally affects the cost. On average, an associate’s degree costs more, but it can open the door to more potential positions.

Type Cost
Certificate / Diploma$2,390 - $41,740
Associate Degree$6,980 - $61,060

Program Length

Surgical tech schools sometimes offer fast track educational programs that allow you to receive your degree or certificate faster. Typically, these programs require you to attend longer classes each day or to attend weekend courses to get the credit hours in a shorter amount of time. However, you can expect that both types of programs will take about one to two years to finish.

Type Length
Certificate / Diploma
Associate Degree 2 Years

Can I Pursue This Program Online?

Surgical tech programs are usually offered as traditional classes that require you to come to the campus regularly for training. This is because training for this program requires hands-on experiences such as practicing how to prepare a sterile operating room. Although you do need to take most of your courses in a classroom or clinical setting, you may be able to complete basic educational requirements such as an entry-level biology course online.

Admission Requirements

You do not need prior college coursework to enter a surgical tech program. Instead, the majority of programs only require you to meet the following standards for admission.

• Possess a high school diploma or the equivalent
• Some programs require a specific GPA from high school


The curriculum in surgical tech educational programs is intensive. You will need to learn complicated medical terminology that is used in operating rooms. Coursework in biology along with human anatomy and physiology is also a general educational requirement in this type of program. You will also be trained on how to look out for the general safety of the patients in your care as well as the proper techniques and procedures for sterilizing surgical equipment and areas of the operating room. In addition to traditional classroom lectures and assignments, you can expect to receive hands-on training in a clinical setting.

What are the 10 Best Surgical Technology Programs Accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES in the Nation for 2023

1) Gwinnett Technical College - Lawrenceville, GA

2) Southwestern College - San Diego, CA

3) East Central Community College - Decatur, MS

4) Owens Community College - Toledo , OH

5) Skyline College - San Bruno, CA

6) Pearl River Community College - Hattiesburg, MS

7) Lord Fairfax Community College - Middletown, VA

8) Bevill State Community College - Sumiton, AL

9) Savannah Technical College - Savannah, GA

10) San Juan College - Farmington, NM

Why Attending a Program Accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES Makes a Difference?

Healthcare professions demand that anyone employed in a position that affects patients must complete rigorous courses of study that are based upon the latest research-based best practices for the medical field. Both of these organizations assess programs to ensure that they meet the regulations and standards that are currently in place. Employers look for educational programs with these accreditations during the hiring process.

Certification and Licensure Requirements to Work as a Surgical Technologist

State laws vary according to the requirements a person must meet to be legally allowed to work as a surgical technologist. Currently, most places only require a surgical technologist to complete an educational program and obtain certification. Organizations such as the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting offer certification programs. To apply, you must submit proof of your training such as a graduation certificate or transcript. You will then need to pass an exam that proves your competency.

The National Center for Competency also offers certifications under the title of Tech in Surgery. It follows a similar application process as the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. After submitting your documents to prove your eligibility, you can then take an exam to earn your certification. The exam takes approximately four hours and covers all of the critical job competency areas such as equipment sterilization and maintenance procedures.

Where Do Surgical Technologists Work?

Hospitals; State, Local, and Private:

Surgical techs are most commonly found in all types of hospitals where they serve as assistants in operating rooms.

Offices of Physicians:

Many physicians provide in-office minor surgical procedures. Surgical techs also help in these environments with establishing a sanitary environment.

Outpatient Care Centers:

These centers offer surgeries that allow patients to go home the same day. Surgical techs must still uphold the same standards for patient care as they do for hospital settings.

Offices of Dentists:

Oral surgery is a rapidly growing field that also requires surgical technologists to work alongside dentists to make sure every procedure goes smoothly.

Industry Employment
Number Percent
Hospitals; State, Local, And Private 76,77071%
Offices of Physicians 11,14010%
Outpatient Care Centers 10,86010%
Offices of Dentists 2,9803%
(Source: BLS)

Work Environment & Conditions

As a surgical tech, any environment that you work within requires your ability to maintain strict attention to the task at hand. Most positions require long hours of standing on your feet in an operating room environment. You may work alone or with other techs to set up a sterile operating room and the required equipment for a specific procedure. Once the surgery begins, you are expected to work quickly by handing equipment to the surgeon and removing items that are no longer needed. Although there is some risk involved due to the presence of bodily fluids during surgery, you are trained during your education program on how to minimize risks through wearing personal protection equipment and maintaining a sterile work environment.

What Starting Salary Can I Expect as a Surgical Technologist?

The surgical tech salary for people entering the profession is more than twice the amount of the current federal minimum wage. Annually, you can expect to make $34,120 a year, which is enough to live comfortably in most parts of the United States.

Type Salary
(Source: In-House Research)

How Much Will My Salary Grow with Experience?

With experience, your salary nearly doubles over twenty years, going from $34,120 annually to $60,980. Keep in mind that these are just the current figures, and salaries can increase over time due to demand in the medical field for people with this certification. Surgical techs who demonstrate their ability to excel in an operating room environment are rewarded with perks such as annual raises. You can also increase your salary by obtaining further continuing education credits or seeking certification as a first surgical assistant.

Level of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
1-4 years$16.40$2,840$34,120
5-9 years$19.72$3,420$41,010
10-19 years$23.90$4,140$49,710
20 years or more$29.32$5,080$60,980
(Source: BLS)

How Many Job Openings are there for Surgical Technology Graduates?

New Replacement Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
(Source: careeronestop)

10 Year Employment Outlook

There is a faster than average rate of growth projected for surgical tech positions over the next 10 years. This is partially due to the increase in aging adults who will need more surgical care over the upcoming decade. Recent advances in technology have also altered how surgical procedures are performed as well as what is available. For instance, many surgical procedures can now be performed on an outpatient basis, which has opened up more operating rooms in facilities that do not provide overnight care. The increase in oral surgeries due to the availability of dental implants has also led to a call for more surgical techs in dental care environments.

Employment Employment Growth, 2020-30
2020 2030 Number Percent
(Source: careeronestop)

State Wise Employment, Job Openings & Salary Breakdown

StateEmploymentAnnual Job Openings (New + Replacement)Annual Average Salary
New Hampshire43040$51,800
New Jersey2,090210$55,320
New Mexico81060$45,630
New York5,510660$59,380
North Carolina3,210330$45,490
North Dakota26030$50,760
Rhode Island19030$59,410
South Carolina2,300170$43,880
South Dakota73060$44,700
West Virginia890110$39,890
(Source: BLS & careeronestop)

Important Organizations & Associations

Association of Surgical Technologists (AST)

This organization is working to establish legislation that increases the safety of patients in operating rooms by requiring surgical techs to comply with standards for education and training.

National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA)

The NBSTSA provides certification opportunities to new surgical techs. They also provide certification verification services to employers.

Association of Surgical Assistants (ASA)

As a member of this association, you are put in contact with other members of your profession who all work together to improve standards and care for patients. Opportunities for recognizing surgical techs are also available to further enhance the benefits of working within this field.

Foundation for Surgical Technology

Scholarships are available through this organization that make paying for the required training more affordable for those who meet the requirements.

Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting

This organization provides reviews for accreditation to educational facilities that offer surgical tech programs. In addition to making sure that they meet the required standards, the council also provides scholarships to deserving applicants.

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