How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Minnesota

A surgical technologist is an allied healthcare professional who works side-by-side with surgeons and nurses in the operating room. They prepare and sterilize the room and instruments, make sure equipment works and lend an extra hand during procedures. They play an active and important role in making surgeries safer for patients. If you think this could be your new career, learn more about what it takes to become a surgical tech in Minnesota. [En Español]

Difference between Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting

The first thing to know is that there are two distinct professions related to the operating room: surgical technologist (ST) and surgical assistant (SA). Surgical technologists prepare the room, instruments, and supplies for surgery, while a surgical assistant works directly with the surgeon during a procedure. In Minnesota, you need specific education and certification for each.

Education Requirements for Surgical Technology in Minnesota

In the state of Minnesota, prospective surgical technologists must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent before enrolling in an accredited program. In addition to completing a program at a community college, technical school, or university, students also need to obtain certification from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

Surgical technologist programs in Minnesota typically last one to two years and include courses like anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, surgical procedures, pharmacology, infection control, and patient care. Students must also complete supervised clinical experiences as part of their program.

Requirements for Working as a Surgical Tech in Minnesota

The state of Minnesota is like many other states in that it does not regulate surgical technology. The state government has not set any minimum standards for education or training and has left it up to employers to decide what skills, education, and experience job candidates should have to be hired. Many employers will only hire surgical techs that have completed an accredited post-secondary program. Others will also require that candidates are certified surgical technologists, a certification that is given through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

NBSTSA Certification for Surgical Technologists

Many employers will only hire certified surgical technologists, or CSTs because certification ensures that an individual has the skills and knowledge needed to do the job. NBSTSA offers this certification through an exam. You can become a CST if you pass the exam, but to be eligible to take it you must first complete an education program with Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) accreditation. Certification must be renewed every four years by showing proof of having completed 15 credit hours of continuing education per year.

Surgical Technology Programs in Minnesota

Although there are no state standards for surgical technologists, individuals are encouraged to complete a course of study and pursue national certification to become a CST. This will give you the best start in this career and ensure you are a good candidate for jobs. Some of the accredited programs available in Minnesota include:

  • St. Cloud Technical and Community College, St. Cloud. At St. Cloud, students can choose between a 49-credit diploma program and a 60-credit associate degree program in surgical technology. Program graduates are prepared to pass the CST exam. The program has a 100 percent success rate in placing graduates in jobs.
  • Minnesota West Community and Technical College, multiple campuses. There are several locations for students to choose from and to complete Minnesota West’s two-year associate degree program in surgical technology. The job placement rate for graduates of this program is 90 percent, and the CST pass rate is 100 percent.
  • Rochester Community and Technical College, Rochester. Also in an associate degree program, Rochester students take 60 credits of coursework, including general studies and surgical tech coursework. Students also participate in hands-on work experience in clinical settings, including the Mayo Clinic hospitals.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

If you pursue a career as a surgical technologist in Minnesota, you can look forward to job security. According to BLS, there is great demand for qualified professionals in this field, and the state is expecting more than 6 percent growth between 2020 and 2030. The number of jobs for surgical techs is projected to increase by 190 during that period.

You can also expect to earn a good income in this career. Average salaries for surgical techs in Minnesota are higher than the national average. In 2021, the average hourly rate in the state was $29.22, and the average annual salary was $60,780. Compare this to the national average income for surgical technologists of $48,530, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Working as a Surgical Technologist in Minnesota

As a surgical tech, you will most likely be hired to work with surgeons in a hospital, either in one specialty area or in general surgeries. However, you may also find a job in a doctor’s office or a dental office, if they do procedures, or in ambulatory surgery centers.

You will find the greatest opportunities for jobs in and around Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Rochester, the largest cities in the state. The largest hospitals in the state provide great opportunities, and these include the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis. Start your new career in surgical technology with an educational program and you will be ready to start working within two years or less.

Neighbor States

Residents of Minnesota may also wish to review their options in Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.

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