How to Become a Surgical Technologist in North Carolina
A surgical technologist is a paraprofessional who assists surgeons and nurses in the operating room environment, supporting everything from minor to life-saving procedures. As a surgical tech, you will provide a wide range of pre-surgical, surgical, and post-op duties, making you a vital part of the surgical team. [En Español]
In many ways, surgical technologists are the backbone of any surgery. While it will be your responsibility to make sure the operating room is sanitary and that all surgical equipment is set up properly, surgical techs also prepare patients for surgery and take them to the recovery room afterward. In addition, surgical technologists are responsible for handing instruments to the surgeon as needed during a procedure.
Requirements for Surgical Technologists in North Carolina
North Carolina is one of many U.S. states that does not set minimum standards for the education and certification of surgical technologists. This means employers set their guidelines and requirements for the surgical techs they hire. That said, while it might not be a prerequisite for employment as a surgical technologist in North Carolina, becoming a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) will help you stand out from the competition and provide you with a boost in salary.
If you decide you’d like to become certified and sit for the CST Certification Exam, you will need to go through The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) for your certification, which does require the completion of an accredited training program. You can either choose to attend a diploma program or an Associate’s Degree program that is CAAHEP accredited or ABHES accredited. Once you become a CST you will need to complete at least 15 hours of continuing education each year for your certification to remain valid.
Surgical Technology Programs in North Carolina
While it is not a requirement for you to attend an education program for surgical technology to be eligible for hire in the state of North Carolina, excelling in any career field means learning as much as possible. Numerous schools in North Carolina offer CAAHEP- or ABHES-accredited surgical technology programs including:
- Miller-Motte College, Cary NC. The Surgical Technology program offered at Miller-Motte College in Cary, North Carolina, can be completed in as little as 18 months. This Associate of Applied Science degree is offered through the school’s CampusFlex track, which means students will have the opportunity to take classes on campus in a traditional group setting as well as online.
- College of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City. The Surgical Technology program offered at College of the Albemarle is CAAHEP-accredited, which means that upon completion of this associate’s degree program in as few as 18 months, students will be eligible to sit for the NBSTSA exam. Students will be may take the exam within the four weeks before or after graduation.
- Coastal Carolina Community College, Jacksonville (CCCC). Before applying to the Surgical Technology Diploma program at CCCC, students will need to meet or exceed minimum score requirements in reading, writing, and mathematics or have completed equivalent courses within the last three years. Placement tests can be taken at CCCC, and students must pass with a “C” grade or higher. Upon acceptance to the accredited Surgical Technology Diploma program, students can expect to complete the program in as little as three semesters.
Allied Health Education Programs in North Carolina
In addition to these surgical technology programs, there are a variety of other allied health education options available in North Carolina. These may include Ultrasound Technician Programs and Medical Assistant Programs. Ultimately, the decision you make regarding your future—which program to attend and what type of certification or degree you want to obtain – should be based on your own career aspirations. No matter which program you choose, completing a program from an accredited school will ensure that your future employers recognize the quality of your education and training.
In addition to attending an accredited educational institution in North Carolina, there are certain skills and abilities that employers look for when hiring surgical technologists in the state.
National Certification Exam
To become certified and sit for the CST Certification Exam from The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), you will need to complete an accredited training program. This exam is 3 hours long and consists of 170 multiple-choice questions. Topics covered include surgical anatomy, medical terminology, instrumentation, asepsis, pharmacology, and patient care. Upon passing the exam you will become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST).
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
The number of positions for certified surgical technologists is growing rapidly throughout North Carolina and the United States. In North Carolina, the number of employed surgical technologists is on the rise, from 2,810 in 2016 to 3,250 in 2026, an expected growth rate of 15.4 percent.
The career outlook for surgical technologists in North Carolina is fantastic. Not only will you have job security and a great paying annual salary, but you will also have the rare opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives daily. The average hourly salary for surgical technologists in North Carolina in 2017 was $21.26, with an average annual salary of $44,230. You can expect a higher paying salary as you gain more experience, and certain locations pay more than others, such as Durham, Charlotte, and Raleigh, North Carolina.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in North Carolina
The most numerous and varied opportunities for employment for surgical technologists in North Carolina are often found in the cities of Durham, Charlotte, and Raleigh. Most surgical techs are employed in hospitals, but it’s also very common for surgical technologists to work in outpatient surgical centers as well as physical or dental offices where minor procedures are performed. No matter where you would prefer to work as a surgical tech in North Carolina, employment opportunities are plentiful throughout the state.