How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Iowa

Do you have a strong stomach and thick skin? These are two qualities that may best describe someone who could have a successful career in surgical technology. You must also be meticulous, have the ability to make critical decisions quickly and enjoy working as part of a team. Lead surgeons will benefit from surgical techs and assistants who are collaborative, efficient and dedicated to the craft. Patients will be comforted by surgical techs who are compassionate and reassuring before, during and after the surgical process. You can expect to be responsible for preparing patients for surgery, handling medical tools during surgery, and sterilizing the operating room after a procedure is completed. [En Español]

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Requirements for Becoming a Surgical Technologist in Iowa

Throughout the U.S., there are a small number of states that currently have legislation to regulate the surgical technology profession. Iowa is not included in this list, instead allowing individual employers to determine what level of expertise is necessary for aspiring surgical techs.

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) are two of the most trusted organizations accrediting surgical technology training programs across the nation. If you want to advance in this career, your best choice would be to enroll in an educational program accredited by either of these organizations.

To enroll in a post-secondary education program in surgical technology, you will need to provide proof of a high school diploma or GED. If you want to be proactive, find a local internship or medical professional offering hands-on training while you are completing your coursework. This real-world experience makes you a valuable candidate to potential employers, reassuring them that you already have a foundation of knowledge within the trade.

Iowa Schools for Surgical Technologists

Iowa is home to a number of colleges that offer surgical technology training programs accredited by the CAAHEP. Some of them are listed below:

  • Iowa Lakes Community College offers both a diploma and an AAS degree program in surgical technology, which will take one or two years to complete, respectively. The cost of tuition is about $5,300 per year, and campuses are located in Algona, Emmetsburg, Estherville, Spencer and Spirit Lake.
  • Iowa Western Community College offers an AAS degree in surgical technology and can be completed with either a part-time or full-time commitment. The program length is four semesters and one summer, and the campus is located in the city of Council Bluffs. The current cost of tuition is $5,216 per year.
  • Kirkwood Community College offers a one-year diploma in surgical technology, which is designed to be completed in three semesters. Tuition is approximately $5,000 per year, and the campus is located in the city of Cedar Rapids.

National Certification for Surgical Technologists

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offers the exam to become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST). Depending upon your employer, this certification may or may not be mandatory. Either way, it is in your best interest to pursue this national certification, as it will be recognized throughout the country. This certification shows that you have the expertise needed to function in your role independently.

The exam fee is $290. To sit for this exam, you will have to provide official documentation of your completion of a NBSTSA-recognized surgical technology program. All surgical technology programs accredited by either the CAAHEP or the ABHES will be recognized by the NBSTSA. Proof of completion of a military training program in surgical technology is also acceptable. To remain a CST, you will need to retake this exam every four years or provide proof of 60 credit hours of continued education during the four-year period between exams.

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations

In 2016, the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) reported that there were 700 people employed as surgical technologists in Iowa. By 2026, PMP estimates that there will be a total of 770 people working in this field.

The highest paid surgical techs in Iowa earn $54,370 annually, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from May 2019. The average hourly wage for surgical techs in this state is $20.49, which equals an annual average income of about $42,620.

Working as a Surgical Technologist in Iowa

Aspiring surgical technologists can look forward to a 12 percent national expansion in the job market during the 10-year period from 2016 to 2026, according to the BLS. If you’re interested in the areas where surgical techs receive the highest pay in Iowa, you should look for employment in cities like Ankeny, Des Moines and Urbandale.

You can expect to find employment in hospitals, surgical clinics, outpatient facilities or other professional environments where delicate medical tools and equipment are handled. Specializing in a particular area of surgery can also bring you greater fulfillment within the trade. These possible areas of specialization include cosmetic surgery, bone surgery, heart surgery and more. Decide if surgical technology is the right field for you and choose to get started right away.

College Programs

Cedar Rapids, IA Area

Kirkwood Community College

6301 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52406-2068
(319) 398-5411
Surgical Technology – Associate Program, Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Kirkwood Community College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are offered at their campus in the city of Cedar Rapids, IA. This public college has round 14,368 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Tuition fees for in-state students are around $4,362 and for out-of-state students approximately $5,202 annually. Learning materials may cost around $2,500, although this will vary with the program.

Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL Area

Eastern Iowa Community College District

306 W River Dr, Davenport, Iowa 52801-1221
(563) 336-3300
Surgical Technologist – Associate Program, Surgical Technologist – Certificate Program

Eastern Iowa Community College District offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and two Certificate programs. All programs are offered at their campus in the city of Davenport, Iowa. The majority of of the school’s 8,383 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Fees for tuition for in-state students are about $4,570 and for students from other states likely to be about $6,912 yearly, while study materials may cost about $1,600, depending on the program.

Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA Area

Des Moines Area Community College

2006 Ankeny Blvd, Ankeny, Iowa 50023-3993
(515) 964-6241
Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Des Moines Area Community College’s Certificate program in Surgical Technology is based at their campus in Ankeny in Polk County, Iowa. This public college has around 22,298 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Tuition fees for in-state students are around $4,410 and for out-of-state students approximately $8,820 annually, while books and supplies may cost around $1,526, although this varies from program to program.

Mercy College of Health Sciences

928 Sixth Ave, Des Moines, Iowa 50309-1239
(515) 643-3180
Surgical Technology – Associate Program, Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Mercy College of Health Sciences offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are offered at their campus in the city of Des Moines, Iowa. This private, not-for-profit college, which has a Roman Catholic religious affiliation, has roughly 789 students in total, with the majority of students on 4-year programs. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. The cost of tuition is broadly in the order of $16,920 yearly, while study materials may cost about $1,528, depending on the program.

Northwest Iowa Nonmetropolitan Area Area

Iowa Lakes Community College

19 S 7th St, Estherville, Iowa 51334-2295
(712) 362-2601
Surgical Technology – Associate Program, Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Iowa Lakes Community College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are offered at their campus in the town of Estherville, IA. The majority of of the school’s 2,315 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally about $5,900 and for students from other states approximately $6,252 annually, while study materials may cost around $1,300, depending on the program.

Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA Area

Iowa Western Community College

2700 College Rd, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51503-1057
(712) 325-3200
Surgical Technology – Associate Program, Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Iowa Western Community College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and two Certificate programs. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Council Bluffs. This public college has approximately 6,472 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Fees for tuition for in-state students are likely to be about $5,472 and for students from other states likely to be about $5,632 yearly, while books and supplies may cost about $1,253, although this varies from program to program.

Sioux City, IA-NE-SD Area

Western Iowa Tech Community College

4647 Stone Ave, Sioux City, Iowa 51102-5199
(712) 274-6400
Surgical Technology – Associate Program, Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Western Iowa Tech Community College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. All programs are taught at their campus in the city of Sioux City, Iowa. This public college has round 6,152 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Fees for tuition for in-state students are likely to be in the order of $4,200 and for students from outside the state likely to be about $4,224 yearly, while books and supplies may cost about $1,224, although this varies from program to 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 the neighboring states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota.