University of Wisconsin–Madison

Surgical Technologist (ST)/Certified Surgical Technologist (CST)

Work Activities/Work Locations

  • Surgical technologists sometimes referred to as Operating Room Technicians become an integral member of the surgical team. They provide patient care before, during, and after surgery with a primary responsibility for maintaining the sterile field.
  • They work in an operating room setting, under the direct supervision of registered nurses and surgeons.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Surgical technologists enjoy their jobs because they are interesting and challenging and they are helping people as well.
  • They should possess manual dexterity and good fine motor coordination, be able to perform accurately and efficiently under pressure, function well as a team member, and possess a strong sense of responsibility.
  • Surgical technologists work in clean, well-lighted, cool environments.
  • They must stand for long periods and remain alert during operations.
  • At times they may be exposed to communicable diseases and unpleasant sights, odors, and materials.

Getting Started

  • High School Courses
    • Students should take a college preparatory curriculum.
    • NTC requires one year of high school biology. Other suggested courses would include algebra, anatomy & physiology, chemistry, and medical terminology.
  • Education and Training
    • Individuals may receive training at an accredited technical college.
    • Programs provide classroom education and supervised clinical experience.
    • Northcentral College (NTC) offers a 3-semester Technical Degree Program. Coursework includes classes on oral/interpersonal communication, anatomy & physiology, medical terminology, microbiology, instruction on instrument handling and sterilization, and infection control. Other studies may include the care and safety of patients during surgery, aseptic techniques, and surgical procedures.
    • Students who have successfully completed a formal training program may earn certification as a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) after passing a national certification exam.
    • Technologists may obtain voluntary professional certification from the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist by graduating from a CAAHEP-accredited program (NTC) and passing a national certification examination. They may then use the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) designation.
    • Continuing education or reexamination is required to maintain certification, which must be renewed every 4 years.

    Educational Institutions

    Chippewa Valley Technical College
    Gateway Technical College
    Madison Area Technical College
    Mid-State Technical College
    Milwaukee Area Technical College
    Milwaukee Career College
    Moraine Park Technical College – Fond du Lac
    Northcentral Technical College
    Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
    Waukesha County Technical College 
    Western Technical College

    Hospitals with Associated Educational Programs

    Agnesian Healthcare, Fond du Lac

  • Method of Entry
    • A high school diploma or equivalent is required for entry into training programs.
    • Must complete an accredited program in surgical technology.
    • Entrance into this program at technical colleges is delayed, as there are many applicants. An annual Petition Process has been established to deal with the long waiting lists. Check with the individual colleges for specifics.
  • Professional Organizations

    Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting
    6 W. Dry Creek Circle, Suite 110
    Littleton, CO, 80120-8031
    303/694-9262
    www.arcst.org/

    Association of Surgical Technologists
    6 W. Dry Creek Circle, Suite 200
    Littleton, CO, 80120-8031
    303/694-9130 or 800/637-7433
    www.ast.org

    Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
    1361 Park St.
    Clearwater, FL, 33756
    727/210-2350
    www.caahep.org/

    National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting
    : 6 West Dry Creek Circle, Suite 100
    Littleton, CO, 80120
    800/707-0057
    nbstsa.org/examinations-cst.html

Career Outlook

Number Employed in 2014 (Wisconsin): 2,640
Number Employed in 2014 (U.S.): 99,800
Expected Employment in 2024 (U.S.): 114,500
Percent Employment Growth (2014-2024): 15%
Expected Annual Openings: 2,460
Median Salary in 2014 (Wisconsin): $48,956

Salary information is located at Career One Stop

Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Information Center provides the most current salary information available from CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop will have a lapse between when the information is gathered and when it is released.

 

  • Surgical technologists usually work 40 hours a week.
  • They may work rotating shifts during these times.
  • They may work overtime, nights, weekends, and holidays.
  • Usually, Surgical Technologist must be ready to work anytime while on call.
  • Surgical Technologists usually receive pay raises as they become more experienced.
  • They usually receive more money when they become certified.
  • Potential careers include Scrub Surgical Technologist, Circulating Surgical Technologist, Second Assisting Technologist, and Central Supply Technician.