How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Florida
Surgical technologists are healthcare professionals who assist patients and surgical teams before, during, and after surgical procedures. Surgical technologists are also called surgical techs, scrub techs, or operating room techs. They are responsible for preparing patients, the operating room (OR), and surgical equipment for surgery. They also help the surgical team “scrub” for surgery by dressing them in sterile gowns and gloves. Another task they are responsible for is monitoring the patient’s vitals and surgical instruments and equipment during surgery. Finally, they transport patients from the OR to recovery. [En Español]
In Florida, surgical technology is not regulated statewide. License, certification, and education requirements are determined by each employer. A license is not required to work as a surgical technologist. No law requires surgical technologists in Florida to hold certification, but most employers within the state require their employees to be certified by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Basic life support (BLS) and CPR certification through the American Heart Association (AHA) are required by most employers as well.
Educational requirements in the state include being a high school graduate or having a GED. Completing an accredited surgical technology post-secondary program is not required statewide, but many employers throughout the state do require it. Not only will it help with work experience but, because most programs include working clinical cases, it will also help prepare you to take the NBSTSA exam.
Surgical Technology Programs in Florida
Completing a surgical technology program and becoming nationally certified will increase your chances of being hired as well as your earning potential. To take the NBSTSA exam to become a certified surgical technologist (CST), a surgical technology program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) must be completed. In Florida, there are more than 60 colleges that offer accredited programs. Here are a few to give you an idea of what to expect:
Daytona State College, Daytona Beach, FL. Daytona State College offers a certificate program in surgical technology. This program takes approximately three semesters (36 weeks) to complete. Students are required to take Medical Terminology and Basic Anatomy and Physiology for Health Careers before taking any of the program-specific courses. The program consists of 1,225 clock hours with 723 of these hours being clinical. Space in the program is limited. You can apply at any time, and applicants are reviewed in June to begin the program in August. At the end of the program, students may take the NBSTSA exam. The pass rate for the NBSTSA exam for graduates of this program is 80 percent.
Eastern Florida State College. At Eastern Florida State College in Cocoa, Florida, you can earn an Associate of Science degree in surgical services. A central sterile processing technologist college credit certificate is included in this degree program. This is a limited admissions program, so interested students should contact the school before applying. The program consists of 64 credit hours and should be completed within two years. The following courses are prerequisites to the program-specific courses:
- English Composition
- Intermediate Algebra
- General Psychology
- Fundamentals of Speech Communication
- Humanities class
- General Biology
- Human Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2
- Medical Terminology
The remaining 31 credit hours, which are surgical technology-related courses, can be taken in the second year. This includes clinical practice. Program graduates are eligible to sit for the NBSTSA exam.
Florida State College at Jacksonville. Florida State College at Jacksonville offers a surgical technology workforce certificate program. This is a limited-space program that can be completed in 10 months. There are 1,330 hours required for this program, and 782 of those hours are clinical. Graduates of the program are prepared to take the NBSTSA exam. In 2016, 84 percent of graduates who completed the program passed their NBSTSA exam. There is also a current 95 percent employment rate for graduates of this program.
Allied Health Programs in Florida
If you are looking for a more comprehensive education in surgical technology, there are also associate degree and bachelor degree programs available throughout the state of Florida. These may include other allied health courses such as medical assisting or dental hygiene. Here are some options to consider:
Pensacola State College. At Pensacola State College, you can earn an Associate of Science degree in surgical technology. The program consists of 64 credit hours with 36 hours being concentrated on general education courses and 28 hours being allocated to surgical technology-related courses. All clinical rotations are included, as well as a lecture series and on-campus lab classes. At the end of this program, graduates are prepared to take the NBSTSA exam and enter the field as certified surgical technologists.
Keiser University. At Keiser University in Fort Lauderdale, you can earn a Bachelor of Science degree in surgical technology. This program is composed of 128 credit hours with 91 being related to general education courses and 37 being allocated to specific courses for this major. In addition, there is a required clinical experience of 150 hours. Graduates of this program are eligible to take the NBSTSA exam and become certified CSTs.
Florida Southern College. At Florida Southern College in Lakeland, you can earn a Bachelor of Science degree in surgical technology. This program is composed of 120 credit hours with 83 being related to general education courses and 37 being allocated to specific courses for this major. In addition, there is a required clinical experience of 250 hours. All coursework is completed in the classroom as well as online. Graduates of this program are eligible to take the NBSTSA exam and become certified CSTs.
National Certification for Surgical Technologists
The NBSTSA is the nationally accepted exam for becoming a CST. Most states do not require this certification, but many employers prefer or require it for potential employees. Therefore, it is highly recommended to sit for this exam. You can take this exam after you have completed a program that has been accredited by either the CAAHEP or ABHES.
It would also be a good idea to join the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST). Not only will you be able to connect with other surgical technologists and keep up with the current training information, but members of the AST also pay only a $190 fee to take the NBSTSA exam. Non-members must pay $290.
To remain an active CST, you must earn 60 continued education credits every four years and renew your license every four years. A renewal fee will be required. This fee is discounted for AST members as well. You can also opt to retake the NBSTSA exam every four years, but you will have to repay the exam fee every time in addition to the renewal fee. Testing locations in Florida include Jacksonville, Miami Gardens, Miami, Ocala, Orlando, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Tampa, and West Palm Beach.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations for Surgical Technologists
Florida is ranked third-highest in the U.S. for employment of surgical technologists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2020 that 7,960 surgical technologists were working in the state. That number is anticipated to increase by 18 percent by the year 2030, suggesting there may be 9,360 more surgical techs will be working in Florida by then. The BLS further suggests this should mean around 750 job openings each year between job turnover and new positions.
According to the BLS, surgical technologists in Florida made an average of $22.60 an hour and $47,000 annually in 2021. However, CSTs with more educational and work experience could earn more than that. The top earners in the state make an average of $60,780.
Location is also a factor when determining salary. Surgical techs in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area made an average of $47,990 annually. Those employed in West Palm Beach averaged $48,210 annually. And finally, those in Jacksonville made an average of $46,690. Salary conditions in your area may vary.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in Florida
Orlando is the highest employed city for surgical technologists in Florida. The cities of Boca Raton, Daytona Beach, Gainesville, Hollywood, Jacksonville, Miami, Ocala, Pensacola, Tampa, and Tallahassee are also great places to consider looking for work as a surgical tech.
Surgical technologists most often find work in hospitals. They may also work in outpatient clinics or specialty surgery clinics like plastic surgery centers. Some places to consider working as a surgical technologist in Florida include Florida Physicians Medical Group, Adventist Health System, Memorial Healthcare System, Florida Hospital, North Florida Regional Medical Group, and JFK Medical Center.
The outlook for surgical technologists in Florida is positive. The growth rate for this field is very high, and it is also a financially beneficial career. There are plenty of places in the state to get an education as well as find employment. With formal training and certification, you can be well on your way to becoming a top-earning CST in the state of Florida.