How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Hawaii

Surgery is not performed by a surgeon alone; it takes a whole surgical team. All members of the surgical team, from the anesthesiologist to the surgeon to the surgical technologist, are essential. A surgical technologist is hard at work before surgery even begins, making sure that the operating room (OR) and prep rooms are stocked with sterile supplies and instruments and helping to prep the patient for surgery. During surgery, they pass instruments to the surgeon and keep track of the instruments and supplies being used. After surgery, the surgical tech transports the patient from the OR to the recovery area. They also sterilize and put away the surgical equipment and make sure that the OR is stocked for the next surgery. [En Español]

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As is the case for most states, there are no laws regarding certification or licensure for surgical technologists in the state of Hawaii. This means you can begin working as a surgical tech with very little education and experience. A high school diploma or GED and current basic life support (BLS) and CPR certification are generally required by most employers. Many hospitals and surgical centers also prefer to hire surgical techs who have completed a surgical technology program and hold certification. This is even required by some employers. Most programs take between one and two years to complete and provide students with classroom instruction that will help them on the job and give them hands-on training through clinical cases. Becoming certified will make you a more likely candidate for a job, and you will possibly earn a higher salary as well.

Hawaii Surgical Technology Programs

A post-secondary education is not a stipulation to working as a surgical tech in Hawaii; however, you can benefit from the extra training. If you wish to take the exam to become a certified surgical technologist (CST), you are required to complete a surgical technology certificate or degree program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Hawaii only has one college that offers an accredited program: Kapiolani Community College.

Located in Honolulu, Kapiolani Community College offers a non-credit certificate program in surgical technology. This simply means that the classes in this program do not count as credit hours but as clock hours instead. You still get credit for taking these classes and will receive a certificate if you graduate, but these hours are not transferable to other programs or degrees. Applications for this program are accepted between May 1-June 1, and students are accepted on a “most qualified” basis. This is a five-phase program taught over two semesters. In each phase, the student will receive up to 175 hours of lectures, labs and clinical practice. Tuition can be paid phase by phase, and you must pass a phase to move on to the next. Once you have completed and passed all five phases, you will receive a certificate of competence in surgical technology and will be ready to take the national certification exam. Graduates of this program have had an 83 percent pass rate when taking the certification exam.

You may find other surgical technology programs in Hawaii, but keep in mind that this is the only program that is accredited and that will allow you to take the certification exam.

Obtaining National Certification

Certification for surgical technologists within the U.S. is regulated by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). If you have graduated from a CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited surgical technology program, you are ready to take the NBSTSA exam to become a CST. If you have joined the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) the exam fee is $190. If you aren’t a member, the exam fee is $290. To pass the exam, you must correctly answer at least 119 of the 200 exam questions.

As with most certifications, this certification must be renewed to remain current. The renewal time for surgical technologist certification is every four years. There are two options for how you can renew your certification: you can retake and pass the NBSTSA exam every four years, or you can take 60 continued education credits over four years. Continued education can be earned by taking more classes or attending seminars. There is a renewal fee, and those who decide to retake the exam every four years will also have to pay the exam fee each time.

There are a few different locations in Hawaii where you can take the NBSTSA exam: the North Hawaii Research Center in Honokaa, Honolulu Community College in Honolulu, or the University of Hawaii Maui College in Kahului.

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations

Three hundred ten surgical technologists were employed in Hawaii in 2019, per data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also predicts that there will be 390 surgical technologists working in Hawaii by the year 2026, which is an 11.8 percent increase in that job field in the state. Considering that the overall national growth of this profession is expected to increase by 11.7 percent, and considering Hawaii’s size, this is good news for surgical technologists and those wanting to become surgical technologists in the state.

The average hourly salary for an entry-level surgical tech in Hawaii is $20.11, and the average yearly salary is $41,830. The mean hourly salary is $28.20, and the mean annual salary is $58,670. However, certified surgical technologists who are experienced can make as much as $79,460 per year in Hawaii. Surgical techs in the state have a higher annual salary than both paramedics and licensed practical nurses (LPNs).

Working as a Surgical Technologist in Hawaii

Most surgical technologists in Hawaii are women. Finding work may be a little different in Hawaii than in other states because of its size and the layout of the islands. You won’t find the various surgery centers and specialty clinics here that you would find in bigger states. There are still plenty of options, though. You can still expect to find work in hospitals and surgical centers in larger cities like Honolulu or Maui. If you live in some of the more secluded parts of the state, expect to travel for work. But, the need for healthcare workers in these parts of the state is high. With a steady growth rate and a continued need for healthcare services, if you are considering becoming a surgical technologist in Hawaii there is no time like the present.