How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Maryland
Becoming a surgical technologist is an exciting and important career, as you will be responsible for keeping things running smoothly in the operating room, and assisting the surgeon and other members of the surgical team. Surgical technologists, or ‘surgical techs’ as they are often called, also ensure the operating room is sanitary and that all surgical equipment is set up properly, prepare patients for surgery and take them to the recovery room post-op. Throughout the procedure, surgical techs will be responsible for handing instruments to the surgeon as they are needed. [En Español]
There are only a few states in the U.S. that require surgical techs to be registered and nine states that set minimum standards for the education and certification of surgical technologists. Maryland is not one of these states. However, because there is such a need for surgical techs in Maryland and throughout the United States, becoming a certified surgical technologist is a good idea. To become certified surgical technologists you will need to complete a training program that is accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
Surgical Technology Programs in Maryland
With the ever-growing need for surgical technologists in Maryland, there are quite a few accredited surgical tech program options throughout the state. While some employers in Maryland do not require formal schooling, earning a certificate or degree in surgical technology will prepare you to take the national exam and provide you with work experience in the field, since most surgical tech programs include surgical externships. To qualify for admission to any surgical tech school in Maryland you will need to supply the following:
- High school diploma or GED
- Criminal background check without any convictions that disqualify you from working in healthcare
- Proof of citizenship or legal residency
- Physical exam
- Negative TB test
- Proof of immunizations
- Negative drug test
If hired as a surgical technologist before completing your full schooling, many employers will offer tuition reimbursement.
Below are a few accredited choices for surgical technology programs in Maryland:
- Community College of Baltimore County. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, CCBC offers a Continuing Education Certificate program for those interested in becoming certified surgical technologists. Within this 13- to 18-month program, students will learn medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology, basic math for healthcare workers, surgical pathology, and surgical technology, among others. Program requirements can be found here.
- Frederick Community College. Located in Frederick, Maryland, FCC offers both an associate’s degree and a certificate in Surgical Technology, accredited by the CAAHEP. Enrollment for the certificate program is limited to 20 students per period, and it is a selective admissions program, which means that students will need to meet all of the minimum pre-requisites to be considered for the program including BI 103, BI 103, and medical terminology as well as a communication course. Students must also obtain a “C” or higher average in each course. The 60- to 65-credit Surgical Technology A.A.S. degree program is also a selective admission program. Students who are not accepted into the program on the first go-round should begin with the Pre-Health Professionals Pre-Surgical Technology Pathway.
- Anne Arundel Community College. AACC in Arnold, Maryland, offers an associate’s degree program in Surgical Technology that can be completed in as little as two years. This degree program is accredited by the CAAHEP, and upon completion, students will be eligible to sit for the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) exam. Additionally, students will have the skills necessary to obtain a job in a hospital or surgical center.
Allied Health Education Programs in Maryland
The majority of Maryland’s community colleges offer allied health education programs, some being a little more comprehensive than others. It’s important to research your options thoroughly before enrolling in any program to ensure that you are getting the most out of it and that your degree will be recognized when seeking employment.
Below is a list of some of the accredited allied health education programs offered at various Maryland community colleges:
Frederick Community College. FCC offers a variety of certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees in allied health fields such as Medical Coding, Rehabilitation Services, Diagnostic Imaging Technology, Clinical Laboratory Science Technology, Veterinary Technology, and more.
Hagerstown Community College. HCC offers certificates and associate degrees in allied health programs such as Medical Assisting, Radiologic Technology, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, and Veterinary Science.
Montgomery College. Located in Rockville, Maryland, Montgomery College has a large selection of certificates and degree programs for those interested in the allied health field including Health Information Management, Physical Therapy Assistant, Medical Coding & Billing, Veterinary Technology, and more.
Surgical Technologist Certification in Maryland
Upon completion of a surgical technology program that is either CAAHEP or ABHES accredited, you will be eligible to sit for the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) exam.
Before taking the test you will need to provide ONE of the following:
- A notarized letter (on institutional letterhead) from the Program Director which states your name, date of graduation, and type of degree awarded
- A copy of your graduation certificate
- Transcript (Transcripts do not have to be official; however, NBSTSA reserves the right to request an official transcript.)
Once you take and pass the NBSTSA exam you will hold the title of Certified Surgical Technologist or CST. Before taking the test, you will need to pay the exam fees. If you are a member of the AST, the NBSTSA exam fee is $190. Non-AST members must pay $290. Upon receiving your certification, it will need to be renewed every four years by taking 60 continued education hours throughout the four years or by retaking and passing the NBSTSA exam. If you opt to retake the exam you will need to pay the exam fees.
Job Outlook and Salary Expectations
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maryland offers a high employment growth rate for surgical technologists, with the Baltimore, Columbia, and Towson areas having the most plentiful job opportunities. If one lives in the Columbia or Towson area it is not a difficult option to hop on the metro to Washington, D.C. for an employment opportunity, since the District of Columbia is the fourth top-paying state for this occupation. In 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Maryland employed 2,660 surgical technologists. Employment is expected to rise by 16 percent in the ten years to 2030.
With the average salary for surgical technologists in Maryland at $23.78 per hour, many surgical techs make over $35.70 an hour. Depending on location and experience, surgical technologists in Maryland can expect to earn anywhere from $37,660 to as much as $78,460 per year in metropolitan areas such as Washington-Arlington-Alexandria. The highest earners in the state make more than $78,460 as surgical techs. This salary information is based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in Maryland
Since there are many metropolitan hubs in Maryland such as Towson, Baltimore, Columbia, Frederick, Silver Spring, Rockville, and even the District and Columbia, there are a wide variety of opportunities for employment as a surgical technologist throughout the state. In Maryland, a surgical tech can be found working in a variety of different locations including hospitals, outpatient surgery clinics, birthing centers, oral surgery clinics as well as plastic surgery offices and clinics.
If, as a surgical technologist, you decide you’d prefer to work in a hospital, you will have the opportunity to focus on a specialty such as thoracic surgery, colon and rectal, obstetrics and gynecology, neurological, oral, orthopedic, vascular, urology and more. As you can see, there is a range of specialties to choose from, but if you’d prefer to be a “floater” who works in many areas, that is also an option.
If you’re ready to begin your career as a surgical technologist in Maryland, now is the ideal time to get started. Not only is this a rewarding career that will also provide a financially stable future, but the growth rate for the field also continues to increase, and training does not take long to complete.