The operating room is a high-stakes environment, and it takes a tightly coordinated team effort to ensure that everything goes according to plan. The vital support role played by surgical technologists is an indispensable part of a smoothly run operation.

Surgical technologists support surgical teams in a number of ways. Tasks can differ for various positions and procedures, but general surgical technologist duties tend to include some variation on the following:

  • Preparing patients and operating rooms before surgery begins
  • Sterilizing instruments and ensuring adequate equipment supply
  • Assisting surgeons by passing them tools and supplies
  • Maintaining a sterile environment before, during and after an operation

Most surgical technologists work in hospitals, but some hold positions in outpatient care centers or the offices of physicians and dentists. A good bedside manner is a major plus, as are strong attention to detail and excellent stress-management skills.

How to become a surgical technologist

The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) indicates that approximately two in five surgical technologists enter the workforce with an associate degree. O*NET also reports that about 31 percent of workers in the field attend accredited surgical technologist schools for their training and earn a postsecondary certificate.

While it may be possible to find surgical technologist training online, there is typically a hands-on clinical component to the curriculum. Students can expect to complete at least a portion of their training at a local school, affiliated clinic or teaching hospital.

Surgical technologist salary and job outlook

Here's an idea of the type of job growth and salary for surgical technologists that might be expected in the coming years:

CareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Surgical Technologists109,000$50,110
2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Employing industry and geographical location certainly factor into salary expectations, but education and experience are tried-and-true ways to bolster your earning potential. Learn more about local and online surgical technologist schools and degree programs and find out how they can help you find a rewarding career in the healthcare field.


Cost of Living Data Series: First Quarter 2014, Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, Missouri Department of Economic Development,

Long Term Occupational Projections for Surgical Technologists, Projections Central,

Occupational Employment and Wages: Surgical Technologists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2013,

Surgical Technologists, "Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,


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