How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Montana

If you want to be a surgical technologist, you will need a particular skillset and level of expertise. Since you’ll be interacting with patients on a regular basis, you must be attentive, empathetic and able to maintain a calm demeanor. It will also help if you’re good at encouraging others and making them feel comfortable. Additionally, you’ll need to keep your energy levels high, so you can maintain focus for extended periods of time. Some surgical procedures will last longer than others, so be prepared to remain observant. You must also work well on teams. You’ll be responsible for the proper handling and placement of all medical instruments during surgery, sterilizing operating rooms and materials before and after operations, and following the specific directions of the lead surgeon during surgery. [En Español]

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Requirements for Becoming a Surgical Technologist in Montana

Each year, a number of states may consider legislation to regulate the practice of surgical technology. While some states have successfully passed laws governing this profession, others do not currently have laws in place for surgical technologists. Montana is one of many states that does not require surgical technologists to follow certain regulations before becoming employed.

Being successful at this career will require you to be proactive. If you take the initiative to receive quality education, you will set yourself up for a career that has longevity. To maintain high educational standards within the medical profession, there are two trusted U.S. organizations that accredit medical schools throughout the nation. These organizations are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Attending a school on either of these lists will be a wise decision to help you excel as a surgical technologist. The voluntary national exam that will make you a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) also requires that you attend a school from either of these lists.

While you are completing coursework, it is a great idea to enroll in an internship program at a local hospital or private practice. Being able to shadow other surgical technologists and gaining hands-on experience will make it easier to find employment when you graduate. Some schools will require you to gain this experience as part of their curriculum, but if your school does not set this requirement, you can take things into your own hands by reaching out to medical professionals and finding available opportunities to shadow or intern.

Montana Schools for Surgical Technologists

Attending an accredited school will open many doors within the medical profession. While the ABHES currently lists no accredited schools for surgical technology in Montana, the CAAHEP lists three:

  • Flathead Valley Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology, which can be completed in two years. Requirements for admission include an interview, an essay and evidence of CPR certification. The program tuition will be between $8,000-$10,000 for in-state students and about $18,000 for out-of-state students.
  • University of Montana also offers an Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology. Core classes must be passed with a minimum “C” grade, and tuition is currently about $7,000 for in-state students and $25,000 for out-of-state students. The program can be completed in two years.
  • Great Falls College – Montana State University allows students to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology. The program can be completed in two years, and tuition costs about $12,409. The core curriculum also requires students to become CSTs before graduating.

National Certification for Surgical Technologists

While the state of Montana does not have legislative requirements for surgical technologists, at least one of the accredited programs available in this state will require you to sit for the national exam to become a CST before graduating. There are states that will require you to have this certification before finding employment, so if you decide to attend a school that does not require you to sit for this exam before graduating, it is still in your best interest to do so. This certification will allow you to practice in any state and will exemplify your existing level of expertise to potential employers.

The exam and certification process to become a CST is handled by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). To sit for this exam, you must pay an exam fee of $290 and provide proof that you’ve completed a surgical tech training program accredited by either the CAAHEP or the ABHES. If you’ve taken a surgical tech training program in the military, you will also be eligible to sit for this exam. You can expect to recertify with the NBSTSA every four years by either retaking the exam or providing proof that you’ve completed at least 60 additional credit hours in coursework over the four-year period between exams.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

In Montana, there were about 460 people working as surgical techs during 2016, according to Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) data. By 2026, we can expect to see an additional 90 jobs added to the field in this state, signifying a 19.2 percent expansion in the job market during the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026.

Surgical techs in this state earned an average of $24.64 per hour, or $51,260 annually, in 2017 according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Top earners in the field in Montana earned an annual average of $66,780 during the same year.

Working as a Surgical Technologist in Montana

Surgical technology is expected to continue to flourish as a career for at least the next several years. The BLS estimates that this job market will see 12 percent growth nationally by 2026.

To make the most out of your career, it is a great idea to become a specialized surgical technologist so you can do the work you most enjoy. Becoming specialized simply means that you would participate mainly in certain types of surgeries, like orthopedic surgery, bone surgery or heart surgery. You can expect to find employment in private practices for cosmetic surgery, outpatient clinics or other specialized surgical facilities.

In Montana, you will likely earn the most as a surgical tech in cities like Billings, Kalispell and Great Falls.

If you enjoy being a team player and playing a significant role in the lives of surgical patients, this could very well be the career of your dreams.

College Programs

Great Falls, MT Area

Great Falls College Montana State University

2100 16th Ave S, Great Falls, Montana 59405
(406) 771-4300
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

The Surgical Technology Associate’s program in Surgical Technology at Great Falls College Montana State University is offered at their campus in the city of Great Falls. Most of the school’s 1,657 students are on 2-year programs. The university is institutionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally about $3,130 and for students from other states approximately $9,382 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,400, although this will depend on the program.

Missoula, MT Area

The University of Montana

Missoula, Montana, Missoula, Montana 59812
(406) 243-0211
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

The University of Montana’s Associate-level Surgical Technology program is offered at their campus in the city of Missoula. This is a full, 4-year public college with 13,044 students, of which 83% are undergraduates. The university is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally around $6,238 and for out-of-state students approximately $23,764 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,400, although this will depend on the program.

Western Montana Nonmetropolitan Area Area

Flathead Valley Community College

777 Grandview Dr, Kalispell, Montana 59901
(406) 756-3822
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

The Associate’s program in Surgical Technology at Flathead Valley Community College is taught at their campus in Kalispell in Flathead County, MT. Most of the school’s 2,169 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Tuition fees for in-district students are likely to be about $4,112 and are $5,486 and $11,254 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively, while study materials may cost about $1,000, depending on the 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

Residents of Montana may also wish to review their options in Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota.