Surgical Technologists

Surgical Technologist Assists During Surgery

Surgical technologists, also called surgical technicians or operating room technicians, are members of the surgical team who work in the operating room with surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other personnel before, during, and after surgery. They ensure a safe and sterile environment. To prepare a patient for surgery, they may wash, shave, and disinfect the area where the incision will be made. They arrange the equipment, instruments, and supplies in the operating room according to the preference of the surgeons and nurses. During the operation, they adjust lights and other equipment as needed. They count sponges, needles, and instruments used during the operation, hand instruments and supplies to the surgeon, and hold retractors and cut sutures as directed. They maintain specified supplies of fluids (for example, saline, plasma, blood, and glucose), and may assist in administering these fluids. Following the operation, they may clean and restock the operating room and wash and sterilize the used equipment using germicides, autoclaves, and sterilizers, although in most larger hospitals these tasks are done by other central service personnel. There are approximately 100,270 surgical technologists employed in the United States.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Circulators, Operating Room Technicians, Private Scrubs, Scrub Persons, Surgical First Assistants, Surgical Technicians
Duties Prepare patients and the operating room (OR) for surgery, assist doctors and other health care professionals during surgical procedures, and prepare the OR after surgery for the next patient
Salary Range $25,000 to $75,000
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Nationwide; most opportunities available in major metropolitan areas
Minimum Education Level
  • High School Diploma
  • Some Postsecondary Training
School Subjects
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Health
Experience Supervised clinical experience required
Personality Traits
  • Helpful
  • Scientific
  • Technical
  • Mechanical/Manual Dexterity
  • Organizational
  • Scientific
Certification or Licensing Required
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Good
Advancement Prospects Good
Outlook Much Faster than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Central Service Manager, or Surgery Scheduler, or Materials Manager
  • Surgical First Assistant
  • Experienced Surgical Technologist
  • Entry-Level Surgical Technologist

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