How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Nebraska
Surgical technologists assist surgeons and nurses before, during, and after surgical procedures. They perform such tasks as preparing the operating room (OR), surgical equipment, and patients for surgery, handing the surgeon instruments during operation and keeping up with the instrument count, transporting patients to and from the OR, and taking any collected specimens to the lab. If this sounds like a career you might be interested in, you may want to consider becoming a surgical technologist in Nebraska. [En Español]
Requirements for Working as a Surgical Tech in Nebraska
Surgical technology is not currently regulated in the state of Nebraska. The Nebraska State Assembly of the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) is pushing to get legislation passed for surgical techs to be licensed within the state. At this time, however, education and certification requirements are left up to the employer.
Many healthcare providers in Nebraska prefer to hire surgical technologists who have completed an accredited surgical technology education program and have certification through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Basic life support (BLS) and/or CPR certification are required by most employers in the state.
NBSTSA Certification for Surgical Technologists
Most employers prefer surgical technologists who are experienced or at least have knowledge of job-related skills and have some education or training. Taking the NBSTSA exam will not only grant you the status of certified surgical technologist (CST) but completing an accredited surgical technology program is required to take the exam, so you will receive education and training as well. Certification must be renewed every four years by either taking the exam again or taking 15 continued education credit hours yearly over the four years. In Nebraska, the exam can be taken in Lincoln, North Platte, Omaha, Scottsbluff, and Western Nebraska Community College in Sidney.
Surgical Technology Programs in Nebraska
Completing a surgical technology program is not yet required to work as a surgical technologist in the state, but it may be required in the future. Should you choose to become certified, completing a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) is a prerequisite to taking the certification exam. There are not any schools that are ABHES accredited at this time, but there are a few that are CAAHEP accredited.
- Northeast Community College. The surgical technology program at Northeast Community College (NCC) in Norfolk is a partnership program with Southeast Community College (SCC) in Lincoln. This program is a combination of general education and surgical technology courses that are taught in class and online and clinical practice. The general ed courses are taken at the NCC campus, and the surgical tech courses can be completed through SCC online. Clinicals are completed at local Nebraska hospitals. Graduates of this program will receive an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. The entire program takes eight semesters (approximately two and a half years) to complete.
We strongly recommend that you review your course schedule with your advisor and consult the college catalog for specific program requirements.
- Southeast Community College. The AAS in Surgical Technology degree program at SCC offers students the ability to learn in the classroom as well as through clinical experience. Twenty-two local students and 16 distance (online) students are accepted into the program. In addition to general education prerequisites, to be considered for admission into the program you must:
- Have current Basic Life Support (BLS) certification
- Pass a criminal background check
- Pass a drug screening
Online students must live within 400 miles of Lincoln so that they may commute to Lincoln once every other week for the first two semesters for lab days. Final exams for online students will be monitored at a preapproved nearby location. Clinical practice will be completed locally to the student as well. This program can be completed in eight semesters, including the general education courses. Ninety-three percent of students who graduated from the program in 2017 found jobs or went on to continue their education.
- Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health. At Nebraska Methodist, students can obtain an Associate of Science (AS) degree in surgical technology. This program includes classroom instruction, hands-on teaching in on-site surgical suites and clinical practice in nearby Omaha hospitals. This program consists of 63 credit hours and can be completed in 22 months, or five semesters. In the final semester, students may take the NBSTSA exam. One hundred percent of 2017 graduates passed the certification exam and found employment within six months of completing the program.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Surgical technology is a job field that is continually growing. Nationally, the job field is expected to increase by 6 percent by the year 2030. In Nebraska, the field is looking at an 8 percent expected growth by 2030. The number of jobs for surgical technologists in the state is projected to increase by 90, from 1,070 to 1,160 positions.
Surgical technology is financially rewarding as well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average hourly salary for surgical technologists in Nebraska was $22.92 in 2021. The yearly average was $47,670. Salary will vary based on several factors, including location, certification, and experience. Entry-level surgical technologists generally make $17-$29 an hour. Surgical techs in Lincoln average around $47,670 annually. And those who are certified and have years of experience may make up to $61,230 annually.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in Nebraska
Surgical techs may find work in hospitals, physician or dental offices, or surgery centers. If you work in a hospital you may work in various areas of surgery or you might choose a specialty such as neurology or plastic surgery. The highest concentration of surgical technology jobs in Nebraska can be found in Omaha and Lincoln. Some of the larger hospitals in and around these areas are where you might expect to find work including Nebraska Heart Institute, Lincoln Surgical Hospital, Nebraska Medical Center, and NE Methodist Hospital.
By completing an accredited educational program and taking the certification exam, you can be ready to work in Nebraska as a certified surgical technologist in less than three years.