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Surgical Technologist Salary Factsheet
Schools & Colleges
Education & Training
Surgical Technologist Courses - A Student's Guide
Interested in starting a career as a surgical technician? This article will provide you some helpful guidelines that you can use in deciding which course or program to take. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recognizes Surgical Technology as one of the fastest-growing professions in medicine today. Education is the first step to joining this profession, and this guide will give you a quick rundown of what to look for before signing up for a surgical technician course as well as its basic educational requirements.
Scouting for Surgical Technologist Courses
Many educational institutions recognize the growing demand for surgical technologists. You can find surgical technology courses in any of the following:
- Junior/Community Colleges
- Technical – Vocational Schools
- Hospitals that offer structured programs in surgical technology
- Online Programs / Open Universities
According to the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST), there are two basic programs under surgical technology that can you can choose from:
Diploma or Certificate in Surgical Technology – duration varies between 9 to 15 months; and
Associate’s Degree in Surgical Technology (i.e. Associate of Science Degree) – takes two years of education and training.
What to Look Out for in Surgical Technology Courses
While there are hundreds of schools and online programs in surgical technology, students are strongly advised to enroll only in those schools, online programs, and hospitals that are accredited by any of the following:
- Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA)
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- Accrediting Bureau of Health Educational Schools (ABHES)
While accreditation of surgical technology courses is not mandatory as of press time, graduating from an accredited course/program is required to qualify for the National Certifying Examination given by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Certified Surgical Technologists (CSTs) have better employment and career advancement opportunities than those who have no national certification.
There are two ways to check if the program you wish to sign up for is duly accredited to offer surgical technician courses:
There should be two components to the program: didactic education (i.e., classes, modules, lectures, exams delivered in classrooms or online) and clinical training/experience with proper supervision. This is true regardless of the type of program (diploma/certificate, associate’s degree) and the course provider (school, online course, hospital, etc.).
You can visit the ARC/STSA, CAAHEP, or ABHES websites for their list of accredited programs and schools.
How About Online Surgical Technician Courses?
Taking up online classes has its advantages over traditional on-site training, but it would all depend on the institution offering the online course. For accredited online courses, the per-credit cost is relatively similar to what on-site programs offer. However, online courses are still more cost-effective for the following reasons:
Online courses eliminate logistical costs such as room and board, transportation, etc.;
Online courses allow flexibility in schedule – an advantage for working students; and
Online courses do not charge premium costs for out-of-state students.
However, you have to make sure that the online program satisfies the clinical experience required by the AST. Check the online training provider’s accreditation before signing up, and inquire about how clinical trainings are conducted.
With a higher-than-average industry growth rate and a projected increase in the number of surgical procedures in the years to come, the demand for surgical technologists is growing and will continue to grow. Now is the time to invest in your education to become a Certified Surgical Technologist.
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