How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Colorado
Colorado is one of few states that require individuals to register to work as surgical technologists. The requirements for registering include several steps and a fee, but for someone who has completed an educational program in surgical technology, the criteria are not hard to meet. If you were hoping to work in this exciting healthcare career in Colorado, start with a post-secondary program and earn a two-year degree or certificate. [En Español]
What is Surgical Technology?
Colorado requires that anyone performing the duties of a surgical technologist be registered. The state defines the role of a surgical tech by outlining those duties:
- Preparing the operating room
- Sterilizing equipment and instruments
- Ensuring operating equipment works and is maintained
- Passing supplies to a surgeon during a procedure
- Holding retractors
- Suctioning incisions
- Cutting sutures
- Keeping track of surgical supplies
Before enrolling in a surgical technology program, most colleges and universities require students to take some prerequisite courses. These often include biology, human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, physics, and chemistry.
Registering as a Surgical Technologist in Colorado
To work as a surgical technologist in the state you must register with the Department of Regulatory Agencies, Office of Surgical Assistant, and Surgical Technologist Registration. To become registered you have to apply with a $35 fee. The application must also include the results of a fingerprint and background check and an affidavit of eligibility to work in the U.S. Applicants must also answer a series of screening questions related to any criminal history. Finally, applicants for surgical tech registration must complete an online Healthcare Professions Profiling Program, which includes questions about working as a professional in a healthcare setting. Performing the duties of surgical technology in Colorado without being registered is considered a class 2 misdemeanor.
Certified Surgical Technologist
In addition to registering as a surgical technologist in Colorado, you can also earn the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. The certification is voluntary but beneficial when it comes to finding employment in the profession.
National Certification for Surgical Technologists
While Colorado does not require that surgical technologists be certified, many choose this option to prove the knowledge and skills necessary to be hired. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) certifies professionals who have completed an educational program accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
Completing an accredited program qualifies you to take the certification exam set by the NBSTSA. Certified individuals must renew the certification every four years. The renewal process includes proving that you have completed 15 or more credits of continuing education courses each year.
Surgical Technology Programs in Colorado
Although the state does not set any minimum education requirements, the best way to get into the field of surgical technology is to start with an educational program and get certified upon completion. There are several accredited surgical tech programs in Colorado:
- Pueblo Community College, Pueblo. Pueblo offers students an associate degree surgical tech program that runs full-time and takes five semesters to complete. In addition to traditional classroom learning, students work hands-on in clinical settings during the day, in the evenings, and on weekends.
- Aims Community College, Greeley. The Aims program is also a two-year associate degree program, and it includes both classroom work and actual hands-on work with patients in surgery centers and hospitals. Aims graduates are prepared to pass the national certification exam, and the pass rate in 2017 was 100 percent.
- Concorde Career College, Aurora. The Aurora campus outside of Denver offers students a degree program in surgical technology that can be finished in 15 months. There is clinical work as well as classroom learning, and Concorde offers students financial aid assistance as needed.
Allied Health Education Programs
Allied Health has a 10-month diploma in surgical technology program that includes supervised clinical practice in affiliated hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Graduates of this program are eligible to take the national certification exam.
Aspiring surgical techs must also keep in mind that many employers require at least one year of experience before hiring an applicant, so gaining experience through volunteer work and internships is essential. The more experience you have, the better your chances of becoming certified and obtaining a job in the field.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
The national outlook for surgical technology careers is positive, with an expected growth of nearly 6 percent. For Colorado, the growth is even stronger. From 2020 to 2030, the number of employed surgical technologists in the state is predicted to grow by over 190 positions, which is a growth rate of almost 26 percent. Anyone studying for this career now can expect to find work easily in the state and enjoy good job security.
Trained and registered surgical technologists in Colorado can also expect to earn a great living. In 2021, surgical techs in the state earned $28.78 per hour and $59,860 per year on average. This is higher than the national average for earnings in this field.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in Colorado
Surgical technologists most often work in hospitals, where surgeries are performed. They may also be hired to work in outpatient or ambulatory surgery centers and in physician or dental offices that perform minor surgeries and procedures.
The greatest opportunities for employment in the state are in the larger population centers, especially in and around Denver. The largest hospitals employ the most surgical techs, and these include Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver and Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs.
With just two years or fewer of education, you could be prepared to register with the state and work as a surgical tech in one of the many hospitals in Colorado.