How to Become a Surgical Technologist in New Mexico
A surgical technologist is a healthcare professional who is skilled and knowledgeable in aseptic and sterile procedures. They are members of the surgical team and work with the other members of the team to provide surgical care to a patient. Surgical techs prepare the operating room (OR) and patient for surgery and assist during procedures by passing instruments to the surgeon and monitoring the patient’s vitals. Afterward, they clean and sterilize all equipment and instruments used and restock the OR for the next surgery. [En Español]
Currently, there are no statewide education or license requirements to working as a surgical technologist in New Mexico. However, some employers in the state do require that their employees have a certificate or degree from an accredited surgical technology program as well as national certification through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). A high school diploma or its equivalent and basic life support (BLS) and CPR certification are required by most employers in New Mexico as well.
Surgical Technology Programs in New Mexico
If you wish to become a certified surgical technologist (CST), you must first complete a surgical technology 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).
There are five accredited programs in New Mexico, including Central New Mexico Community College and San Juan Community College.
- Central New Mexico Community College. Central New Mexico Community College (CNMCC) has an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in surgical technology. This program includes classroom and lab instruction at the Albuquerque campus and clinical labs at local hospitals and surgery centers. It is comprised of 62-68 credit hours (including general education requirements) taken over five semesters. Clinical labs are given the final two semesters. Admission requirements to the program include:
- High school diploma or GED
- Passing a background check
- Completion of a math prerequisite course or equivalent math score on a placement test, ACT or SAT
- Completion of an English prerequisite course or equivalent reading/English score on a placement test, ACT or SAT
- Completion of a biology and chemistry prerequisite course or equivalent biology score on a placement test
- San Juan Community College. San Juan Community College (SJC) in Farmington has a partnership with New Mexico State University- Alamogordo (NMSU-A) to provide students the opportunity to earn an AAS degree in Surgical Technology. If prerequisites have already been taken, the program can be completed in one year. If they have not been taken, the program usually takes about two years. If prerequisites haven’t been taken they can be taken at NMSU-A, either on campus or online. Students can take the program courses either online or on campus at San Juan College. The lab courses can be taken at either campus. This is a limited space program, and students should be ready to take the certification exam after graduating from the program.
Surgical technologists who are certified through the NBSTSA are more likely to be hired in New Mexico, as many employers require certification. You qualify to take the exam after you have completed an accredited education program. Being a member of the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) would be beneficial, because AST members pay $190 to take the exam, while non-members must pay $290. In New Mexico, the exam can be taken in Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces, Roswell and Santa Fe.
Certification should be renewed every four years to remain active. Continued education through classes, seminars or workshops is required for renewal. Fifteen continued education hours must be taken yearly.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Surgical technology is a career that is high in demand throughout the state of New Mexico. There were 910 surgical technologists employed in the state in 2020. That number is expected to rise by 14 percent by 2030, meaning that at least 80 more job positions should be available in this field by then.
The salary for surgical technologists in New Mexico is good. The average hourly salary for surgical techs in the state was $22.32 in 2021. The average annual income that year was $46,420. This is slightly below the national average of $48,530; however, surgical technologists in New Mexico who have more experience and have been working longer can be potentially earn as much as $61,100 annually.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in New Mexico
The main employers of surgical technologists are hospitals. However, you may also find employment as a surgical technologist in other places such as outpatient surgery centers, birthing centers or physicians’ and dental offices where surgical procedures are performed. Surgical technologists are in higher demand in the larger cities in New Mexico, such as Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Some hospitals in the state where you may consider employment are Memorial Medical Center, Presbyterian Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital and St. Vincent Hospital.
This is a career that is hands-on, financially stable and comes with job security. You can begin looking for work as a surgical technologist in New Mexico without certification, but completing an educational training program and taking the NBSTSA is highly recommended.