How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Alabama

A surgical technologist is a member of a surgical team who works closely with the surgeon, surgical nurse and other members of the team before, during and after procedures. They may also be referred to as a surgical tech, scrub tech or operating room (OR) tech.

Some of the duties of a surgical tech include:

  • Preparing the OR with surgical equipment and supplies
  • Preparing patients for surgery
  • Assisting the surgeon during surgery by handing the doctor medical instruments
  • Monitoring the instrument count throughout surgery
  • Transporting patients to and from the OR
  • Re-stocking the OR after the last surgery

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Surgical technology is not a regulated profession, meaning there are no laws nationally or statewide for becoming a surgical technologist. Therefore, it is left up to the employers to determine the requirements for working as a surgical technologist.

There are certifications that can be taken for surgical technology. Holding certification is not required to work as a surgical tech in Alabama, but many employers prefer that surgical techs be certified. The minimum education requirement to work as a surgical tech in the state is a high school diploma or equivalent. Completing a surgical technologist certificate or degree program at a technical or community college is not required, but it is a requirement to take certification exams, and it gives students clinical experience as well.

Surgical Technology Programs in Alabama

To take the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) exam to become a certified surgical technologist (CST), you must first take a formal surgical technology program that is accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). In Alabama, eight colleges offer programs that are CAAHEP accredited, and seven offer ABHES-accredited programs. Below, you will find information about some of these programs.

  • Southern Union State Community College. The Opelika campus of Southern Union State Community College offers both an Occupational Certificate in Surgical Operating Room Technology and an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) Degree in Technology. There is limited space in this program, but applications are accepted until all spots are filled. Students are advised to complete the general education courses prior to applying to the program. The certificate program can be completed in three semesters (between 36-49 credit hours), and the AAS degree can be completed in five semesters (between 64-73 credit hours). You must meet all the general admission requirements for Southern Union as well as meet the surgical technology program admission requirements. These requirements include:
    • Attending a Health Sciences Information Session
    • If already a student at Southern Union, having a minimum 2.0 GPA
    • If a transfer student, having a minimum 2.0 GPA
    • Submitting all high school and post-secondary transcripts prior to admission
    • Passing English 101, Math 100 and the college reading requirement
    • Applying to the Surgical Technology Program
    • Meeting the conditions of the policies addressed in the student handbook
    • Meeting all health requirements addressed in the Surgical Tech student handbook

Upon completion of either the certificate or AAS degree program, the NBSTSA CST exam can be taken by the student at the Southern Union campus.

  • Calhoun Community College. The Decatur campus of Calhoun Community College offers a surgical technology certificate program that can be taken in four semesters (approximately two years). This program includes classroom, lab and clinical instruction. Calhoun Community College also has the option of completing an AAS in surgical technology. To complete this program, students must take 18 general education credit hours in addition to the credit hours taken in the certificate program.You must apply for admission to the college itself at least a month before applying to the surgical technology program. Transcripts from previous schools must be received prior to applying to the program as well. Admission requirements to the surgical tech program also include:
    • Meeting all Calhoun Community College admission requirements
    • Applying online to the surgery technology program
    • Enrolling in or having completed English Composition 1, Intermediate College Algebra and Medical Terminology with a C or higher average in each (For an AAS degree, these classes must be completed before the surgical tech classes can be taken.)
    • Attending a program information session
    • Completing a Manual Dexterity Exam while attending fall classes

    Students completing either program are qualified to take the NBSTSA CST exam.

  • Bevill State Community College. The Sumiton campus of Bevill State Community College offers a short-term certificate program in surgical technology that can be completed in a year. This is a competitive program and class size is limited. To apply to the program, students must meet the following requirements:
    • Have a high school diploma or GED
    • Completed the general admission requirements to Bevill State
    • Completed the COMPASS placement exam with acceptable math, reading and writing scores or scored a minimum compound 16 on the ACT

    While in the program, students must complete a minimum of 120 clinical cases, and 30 of those cases must be in general surgery. The remaining 90 cases can be any other surgical specialty; however, only 15 cases can be completed in a specific specialty other than general. Upon completion of the program the student will be ready to take the NBSTSA CST exam.

  • Surgical Technologist Certification in Alabama

    In the United States, the NBSTSA is the nationally accepted certification program for surgical technologists. A CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited surgical technology education program must be completed prior to taking the NBSTSA certification exam. This certification exam is not mandatory, but it would be a wise choice to take it and become a CST. More job opportunities and a higher salary may be available to those who are certified.

    In Alabama, you can find testing locations to take the NBSTSA exam in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery. To pass the exam, you must answer 119 of the 200 questions on the exam correctly. The exam fee is $190 for Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) members and $290 for non-AST members. Certification must be renewed every four years. You can renew this certification by one of two methods: by renewing through continued education or by retaking and passing the certification exam every four years. To renew through continued education, you must take at least 60 education credits during the four years between certifications. Most people choose to renew through continued education, because retaking the exam means paying the exam fee again every four years in addition to the renewal fee.

    Another certification that is not required but is recommended is basic life support (BLS) for health care providers, including training in CPR and AED. These classes can usually be taken locally.

    Job Outlook and Salary Expectations

    In 2019, there were 1,890 surgical technologists employed in the state of Alabama, according to data supplied by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The number of surgical techs working in the state is predicted to increase by 7.5 percent by the year 2026. The highest concentration of jobs for surgical technologists in Alabama can be found in the cities of Anniston, Jacksonville and Oxford.

    As of May 2019, surgical technologists in the state of Alabama were earning an average of $18.31 hourly and $38,090 annually. Surgical Technologists in the state who are certified and have more educational and work experience can potentially earn as much as $51,790 per year.

    Working as a Surgical Technologist in Alabama

    Surgical technologists in Alabama are most often found working in the surgical wing of hospitals. Other settings where surgical techs may find work include children’s hospitals, cosmetic surgery centers and specialty clinics that may perform surgical procedures.

    Most surgical technologists assist with various types of surgery. However, after working as a surgical tech for a while, you may decide that you are more comfortable in one area of surgery. Just as surgeons pick a specialty, a surgical tech may pick a specialty as well. Some specialties include general surgery, ob/gyn, urology, plastics and neurology.

    In Alabama, surgical technologists can find work in hospitals in cities such as Birmingham, Cullman, Mobile, Montgomery and Phenix City. However, even most rural towns have a hospital nearby. Even if you choose to complete a formal training program and become nationally certified, you can still be ready to work at hospitals or clinics in the state as a surgical technologist within two years or less.

    College Programs

    Birmingham-Hoover, AL Area

    Bevill State Community College

    1411 Indiana Avenue, Jasper, Alabama 35501
    (205) 387-0511
    Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

    The Certificate program in Surgical Technology at Bevill State Community College is offered at their campus in the town of Jasper. This public college has roughly 3,619 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally about $4,410 and for students from other states approximately $7,920 annually, while study materials may cost around $1,200, depending on the program.

    Virginia College-Birmingham

    488 Palisades Blvd., Birmingham, Alabama 35209
    (205) 802-1200
    Surgical Technology – Associate Program

    Virginia College’s Associate-level Surgical Technology program is offered at their Birmingham campus in the city of Birmingham, AL. Of the 2,138 students, about 3% are postgraduates. Fees for tuition are about $14,632 annually.

    Gadsden, AL Area

    Gadsden State Community College

    1001 George Wallace Dr, Gadsden, Alabama 35903
    (256) 549-8200
    Surgical/Operating Room Technician – Certificate Program

    The Certificate program in Surgical/Operating Room Technician at Gadsden State Community College is based at their campus in the city of Gadsden, AL. This public college has in the region of 5,018 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is roughly in the order of $3,264 and for students from outside the state around $6,072 for each academic year. Study materials can cost roughly $1,500, depending on the program chosen.

    Huntsville, AL Area

    John C Calhoun State Community College

    6250 U S Highway 31 N, Tanner, Alabama 35671
    (256) 306-2500
    Surgical Technology – Associate Program, Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

    John C Calhoun State Community College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are taught at their campus in Tanner in Limestone County, Alabama. The majority of of the school’s 9,985 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for in-state students is in the order of $4,460 and for students from outside the state in the order of $7,970 per year, while books and supplies may cost in the order of $1,500, although this varies from program to program.

    Mobile, AL Area

    Virginia College-Mobile

    3725 Airport Blvd, Suite 165, Mobile, Alabama 36608
    (251) 343-7227
    Surgical Technology – Associate Program

    Virginia College’s Associate program in Surgical Technology is offered at their Mobile campus in the city of Mobile. This private, for-profit college has roughly 418 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The cost of tuition is in the order of $14,632 per year.

    Montgomery, AL Area

    Virginia College-Montgomery

    6200 Atlanta Highway, Montgomery, Alabama 36117-2800
    (334) 551-1500
    Surgical Technology – Associate Program

    Virginia College’s Associate program is offered at their Montgomery campus in the city of Montgomery, AL. The majority of of the school’s 469 students are on 2-year programs. The cost of tuition is likely to be in the order of $14,632 per year.

    Northeast Alabama Nonmetropolitan Area Area

    Southern Union State Community College

    750 Roberts St, Wadley, Alabama 36276
    (256) 395-2211
    Surgical Technology – Associate Program, Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

    Southern Union State Community College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and two Certificate programs. Classes are taken at their campus in Wadley in Randolph County. This public college has around 4,716 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is roughly around $4,352 and for out-of-state students around $8,096 for each academic year. Study materials can cost roughly $1,400, depending on the program chosen.

    Southeast Alabama Nonmetropolitan Area Area

    Lurleen B Wallace Community College

    1000 Dannelly Blvd., Andalusia, Alabama 36420-1418
    (334) 222-6591
    Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

    The Certificate program in Surgical Technology at Lurleen B Wallace Community College is based at their campus in Andalusia in Covington County. The majority of of the school’s 1,732 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually in the order of $4,380 and for students from outside the state in the order of $7,890 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,192, although this will vary with the program.

    Southwest Alabama Nonmetropolitan Area Area

    Coastal Alabama Community College

    1900 US Hwy 31 S, Bay Minette, Alabama 36507-2698
    (251) 580-2100
    Surgical Technology – Associate Program, Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

    Coastal Alabama Community College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are based at their campus in the town of Bay Minette. This public college has round 4,580 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition for in-state students are likely to be about $4,380 and for students from other states likely to be about $7,890 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $1,500, although this will vary with the program.

    * Tuition fees and accredition status are correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm with college before applying.

    Neighbor States

    See options in Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.