How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Alaska
If you are familiar with the surgery process, you know that it is very particular and requires intense levels of focus. Everything must be handled with care, to the point that only select individuals are allowed into the operating room. Included among these individuals are surgical technologists, who are key to the success of each procedure. Surgical technologists take special care in handing instruments to the lead surgeon, ensuring proper placement of all equipment and materials, and working as a member of the surgical team for the most precise outcome of each procedure. You may also be responsible for working directly with patients before and after surgery. [En Español]
Requirements for Becoming a Surgical Technologist in Alaska
There is a small number of states that require surgical technologists to follow certain regulations before becoming employed, but Alaska is not one of them. While this may make the process easier, you will still need some formal training or education in order to find a job as a surgical technologist. Enrolling in a school or program accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) will be your best choice. This is because these are two of the most trusted organizations that accredit medical schools throughout the U.S. Keep in mind that you will most likely need to provide at least a high school diploma or GED before being accepted into one of these accredited training programs, so be sure to have that documentation available.
While you are completing coursework in surgical technology, it is highly recommended that you seek an internship to gain real-world experience within your trade. This will further prepare you for a rewarding career and show employers that you are serious about progressing in this field. Additionally, this hands-on training will help prepare you for the voluntary national exam to become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST).
Alaska Schools for Surgical Technologists
Neither the CAAHEP nor the ABHES currently list any accredited surgical technology programs in Alaska. Additionally, there is also no surgical technology program entirely based online that is accredited by either organization. However, both organizations list accredited programs for medical assistants in the state, which is a degree or certification that can get you started on your path to becoming a surgical technologist.
- University of Alaska Fairbanks offers both a certificate and an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting. The certificate can be completed in one year, while the AAS degree will take two years to complete.
- University of Alaska Southeast offers a certificate program in medical assisting. The program will take one year to complete. The school is located in Juneau, Alaska.
- Charter College offers a certificate program in medical assisting which can be completed in less than one year. The program includes a 180-hour externship at a local clinic or physicians hospital to prepare you for professional work in the field.
Although the accredited schools in Alaska do not offer degrees in surgical technology specifically, their certificate and degree programs in medical assisting will still help you gain experience in the medical field and can build your familiarity with the surgical technology trade.
National Certification for Surgical Technologists in Alaska
The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) is the organization responsible for the examination and certification of surgical technologists. Individual employers will determine if this certification is necessary; however, taking the initiative to receive your certification before seeking employment should make your job hunt much easier.
To sit for this exam, you will need to provide documentation of your completion of a NBSTSA-recognized surgical technology program. Programs accredited by both the CAAHEP and the ABHES will be recognized by the NBSTSA. Since neither of these organizations have accredited surgical tech programs in Alaska, you may have to travel outside of the state to get the education needed to become a CST. Alternatively, you can provide proof that you’ve completed a military training program in surgical technology. The exam fee is $290, and you will need to recertify by either retaking the exam every four years or providing proof of continued education with at least 60 completed credit hours over the four years between exams.
You will still be able to work as a surgical tech without this certification. Many employers in Alaska are willing to accept experience in place of your national certification.
During May 2019, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that surgical technologists in Alaska were making an average of $32.53 per hour, or $67,660 annually. The highest paid surgical technologists in this state earned more than $82,110 in 2019.
Data from the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) show that there were 200 people working as surgical technologists in Alaska during 2016. By 2026, that number is expected to jump to 250.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in Alaska
According to PMP data, surgical technologists in Alaska can look forward to a 23.8 percent increase in jobs in the 10-year period from 2016 to 2026. You can likely expect to earn the highest pay in the cities of Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Employment will be available in hospitals, private practices or outpatient clinics. With opportunities on the rise, now is as good a time as any to start your career in surgical technology.