How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Washington, D.C.

There is little margin for error inside the operating room while a surgery is taking place. Surgical technologists play a vital role in ensuring each operation is completed with precision, paying close attention to detail and to the directions of the lead surgeon. Surgical techs oversee the use of medical instruments and equipment, ensuring these items are properly sterilized and in the appropriate places as surgery is underway. Lead surgeons will benefit from surgical techs who take direction well and ensure that all medical instruments are available for ease of use during the operating process. [En Español]

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Requirements for Becoming a Surgical Technologist in Washington, D.C.

Some U.S. states have laws in place to regulate the practice of surgical technology; however, Washington D.C. does not. Individual employers will decide the specific skills and education level you’ll need in order to join their surgical teams.

Excelling in any career field means learning as much as possible. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) are two accrediting organizations trusted by the medical field to set high standards for health science education across the country. Attending a school from one of these lists is a great idea, because these organizations confirm that the programs listed will prepare you for a successful career in the field. In order to sit for the voluntary exam to become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST), you will also need to attend a school from either of these lists.

Completing an internship while taking surgical technology classes will surely add to your level of expertise. This additional experience will further qualify you for employment when you begin your job hunt. It will also prepare you for the national CST exam, should you choose to take it.

Washington, D.C. Schools for Surgical Technologists

Both the CAAHEP and the ABHES currently list no accredited schools for surgical technology in Washington, D.C. However, both organizations list accredited schools in Maryland and Virginia, the two states that border the District of Columbia. The schools closest in distance to Washington, D.C. are:

  • Montgomery College. Montgomery College has a campus in Takoma Park, which is located about 30 minutes from Washington, D.C. This school offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in surgical technology, which can be completed in less than two years. Tuition is currently about $9,000 per year.
  • ECPI University. ECPI is located in Manassas, Virginia, about one hour from Washington, D.C. Students will learn aseptic techniques, sterile barriers, physiology, basic surgical anatomy and more. The Associate of Applied Science degree will take about two years to complete, and tuition is about $8,000 per year.

National Certification for Surgical Technologists

Although there are currently no regulations for surgical technology in Washington D.C., many employers will prefer applicants to have the CST credential to be hired. This certification could lead to higher pay in states where it is not required, and having this credential will be convenient if you decide to relocate to a state that requires surgical techs to be certified before practicing.

The CST exam is offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) and carries an exam fee of $290. Completing your surgical technology coursework at a CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited school, or through a military program, will make you eligible to sit for this exam.

You can expect to recertify as a CST every four years by either retaking the exam or submitting documentation that you’ve completed at least 60 credit hours of surgical technology coursework over the four-year period between exams.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

During the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026, Washington D.C. is expected to see 5.3 percent growth in the surgical tech job market, according to data presented by the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP). In 2019, about 260 surgical techs were employed in this state, and there are expected to be 300 people working in this field by 2026.

In Washington D.C., surgical techs earn an hourly average of $29.20, or $60,740 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The same data shows that surgical techs in D.C. are among some of the highest paid in the country, with the top 10 percent earning $89,700 annually.

Working as a Surgical Technologist in Washington, D.C.

Surgical technologists can expect to see 12 percent national expansion in the job market by 2026, according to BLS data. Employment will be available in the operating rooms of local hospitals or private practices, among other facilities where surgical procedures are performed. Becoming a specialized surgical tech will enable you to choose to take part in certain types of surgeries. These could include gastric bypass surgery, brain surgery, heart surgery, labor and delivery surgery, and more. OB/GYN clinics or outpatient facilities will also be environments where surgical technologists can find employment. If this sounds exciting to you, and you know that you’re capable of the technical skills and soft skills necessary to excel in this field, you should begin your journey in the career of surgical technology today.

Neighbor States

Residents of District of Columbia may also wish to review their options in Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and New York.