How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Pennsylvania

As a surgical technologist, it is important to have skills that will help you maintain positive and healthy relationships with other members of the surgical team and with patients. You’ll also need a strong stomach to succeed in this career—being easily upset by the sight of blood or organs won’t make you a good fit for surgical technology. Some surgeries are more intense than others and will require a great deal of stamina, focus and attentiveness.

You may be responsible for sterilizing operating rooms before and after surgeries, handing important medical instruments to the lead surgeon during surgery and transporting patients onto surgical tables before an operation begins. It is also likely that you’ll play a vital role in the post-operation process, assisting patients with recovery after a surgical procedure is complete. [En Español]

Requirements for Becoming a Surgical Technologist in Pennsylvania

There is currently a small number of states with laws in place regulating surgical technology, and this number is expanding slowly over time. In Pennsylvania, there are currently no laws in place to govern this practice; however, there is a bill pending, which, if passed, would require surgical techs to do the following before finding employment:

  • Graduate from an accredited surgical technology program
  • Earn and maintain the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

According to this bill, those who are already working as surgical technologists on or before a specific date will be allowed to continue working without meeting the above requirements. This date will be determined if/when the bill is passed. This bill would also require all surgical technologists to complete at least 15 hours of continuing education each year in order to work in this state. Those who maintain the CST credential will already have these hours covered as part of maintaining their CST license.

Lists of accredited surgical technology training programs can be found via the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). These organizations help ensure that medical students receive an education that will set them up for a successful, long-lasting career in this field.

Completing an internship while you are enrolled in a training program is optional but highly recommended, especially if your training program does not provide hands-on training as part of its curriculum. An internship will develop your skills before you find employment, ensuring you can do your job effectively. You can find an opportunity to do job-shadowing at a local hospital or private medical practice, or by networking with peers and healthcare professionals at your school. This additional experience could also lead to an increase in salary when you begin receiving job offers.

Pennsylvania Schools for Surgical Technologists

The ABHES currently lists no accredited schools for surgical technologists in Pennsylvania, but the CAAHEP lists several. Some of their options are included below:

  • Great Lakes Institute of Technology offers an Associate of Specialized Technology degree in surgical technology, which can be completed in just 17 months. The program’s curriculum includes an externship at a hospital or ambulatory center. Tuition for off-campus students totals out to $15,200, and books and supplies will cost an additional $3,415.
  • Lackawanna College offers an associate degree in surgical technology, which will take about two years to complete. The curriculum includes day, evening and Saturday courses, as well as clinical lab hours and summer classes. Tuition is currently about $35,000 for the entire program.
  • Montgomery County Community College allows students to complete their associate degree program in surgical technology in 16 months. The program is year-round and admits just 12 students per year. Tuition is about $9,000 per year.

National Certification for Surgical Technologists

Although there are currently no laws governing the practice of surgical technology in Pennsylvania, if the pending bill is passed there will be regulations in place. Either way, it is a great idea for you to become a CST through the exam offered by the NBSTSA. This certification will put you ahead of the game as it shows your existing skillset and expertise within the profession. Even in states where this certification is not required, many employers will choose to only hire surgical techs who are certified.

This exam requires a $290 exam fee and proof that you’ve completed a surgical technology training program accredited by either the CAAHEP or the ABHES. If your training program was completed in the military, you will also be eligible to sit for this exam.

To maintain your status as a CST, you will need to recertify every four years. Recertification will require you to either retake the exam or provide proof that you’ve completed at least 60 credit hours of coursework in surgical technology over the four years between exams.

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations

During the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026, Pennsylvania is expected to see an 11.4 percent increase in surgical technician jobs, according to data presented by the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP). Their research shows that 3,800 people were working as surgical technologists in 2016, and by 2026 there are expected to be 4,230 people employed within the field in this state.

The highest paid surgical technologists in Pennsylvania earned an annual average of $60,360 in 2019, according to data presented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The same data show that most surgical techs earned an hourly average of $21.87, or $45,480 annually.

Working as a Surgical Technologist in Pennsylvania

There will continue to be an increase in the number of jobs across the field of surgical technology. The BLS reports that there will be 12 percent national growth within this trade by 2026. Surgical techs in Pennsylvania are paid the most when working in cities like Doylestown, Levittown and Philadelphia.

You can expect to find work in hospital operating rooms, outpatient facilities, private medical and dental practices and more. If you want to see an increase in compensation, you might also consider becoming a specialized surgical tech, which essentially means you would participate in specific types of surgeries. These areas of specialization can include gastric bypass surgery, heart surgery, bone surgery, plastic surgery and many others. If you enjoy both working independently and taking direction as part of a team, consider starting your journey into surgical technology today.

College Programs

 

Erie, PA Area

Great Lakes Institute of Technology

5100 Peach Street, Erie, Pennsylvania 16509-2482
(814) 864-6666
Surgical Technologist – Associate Program

The Associate’s program in Surgical Technologist at Great Lakes Institute of Technology is based at their campus in Erie in Erie County. Most of the school’s 381 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. Tuition fees for the Surgical Technologist program are in the order of $27,661 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $2,750. Program completion is usually 17 months.

Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA Area

Harrisburg Area Community College-Harrisburg

1 HACC Dr., Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17110-2999
(717) 780-2300
Surgical Technology – Associate Program, Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Harrisburg Area Community College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their Harrisburg campus in the city of Harrisburg, PA. The college has round 19,121 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The cost of tuition for in-district students is usually in the order of $6,525 and are $7,785 and $9,225 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,728, although this will vary with the program.

Johnstown, PA Area

Mount Aloysius College

7373 Admiral Peary Hwy, Cresson, Pennsylvania 16630-1999
(814) 886-4131
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

Mount Aloysius College’s Associate program is based at their campus in the town of Cresson, PA. This is a full, 4-year private college with 1,877 students, of which 96% are undergraduates. The college is institutionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The cost of tuition is likely to be in the order of $21,850 per year. Study materials can cost around $2,500, depending on the program chosen.

University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

450 Schoolhouse Road, Johnstown, Pennsylvania 15904
(814) 269-7000
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

The University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown’s Associate program in Surgical Technology is offered at their Johnstown campus in Johnstown in Cambria County. This public college has in the order of 2,816 students in total, with most students on 4-year programs. The University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown has institutional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The retention rate of full-time students at this college is 82%. Tuition fees for in-state students are around $13,624 and for out-of-state students approximately $24,646 annually. Study materials can cost around $1,000, depending on the program chosen.

Lancaster, PA Area

Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences

850 Greenfield Road, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17601
(800) 622-5443
Surgical Technology – Associate Program, Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Lancaster. This is a full, 4-year private college with 1,377 students, of which 97% are undergraduates. The college is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Tuition fees are usually around $25,510 annually. Study materials can cost around $2,497, depending on the program chosen.

Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan Division Area

Delaware County Community College

901 S Media Line Rd, Media, Pennsylvania 19063-1094
(610) 359-5000
Surgical Technology – Associate Program, Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Delaware County Community College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Media in Delaware County. The college has in the order of 11,742 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Tuition fees for in-district students are generally around $4,960 and are $8,530 and $12,160 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Study materials can cost around $1,750, depending on the program chosen.

Montgomery County Community College

340 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania 19422-0796
(215) 641-6300
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

Montgomery County Community College’s Associate-level Surgical Technology program is offered at their campus in Blue Bell in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Most of the school’s 12,372 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Tuition fees for in-district students are generally around $5,610 and are $10,230 and $14,850 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Study materials can cost around $1,300, depending on the program chosen.

Pittsburgh, PA Area

Community College of Allegheny County

800 Allegheny Ave, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15233-1895
(412) 323-2323
Surgical Technologist – Associate Program, Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Community College of Allegheny County offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Pittsburgh, PA. The college has in the order of 16,737 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Fees for tuition for in-district students are usually about $4,131 and are $7,520 and $10,751 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively, while books and supplies may cost in the order of $1,200, although this varies from program to program.

Pittsburgh Career Institute

421 Seventh Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219-1907
(412) 281-2600
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

Pittsburgh Career Institute’s Associate program in Surgical Technology is taught at their campus in the city of Pittsburgh, PA. Most of the school’s 171 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. The retention rate of full-time students at this college is 100%. Fees for tuition are, as a rough guide, about $24,919 per year, while books and supplies may cost in the order of $2,293, although this varies from program to program.

Pittsburgh Technical College

1111 McKee Road, Oakdale, Pennsylvania 15071
(412) 809-5100
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

Pittsburgh Technical College’s Associate program in Surgical Technology is taught at their campus in Oakdale in Allegheny County, PA. Most of the school’s 1,936 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Fees for tuition are about $16,415 per year, while books and supplies may cost in the order of $1,350, although this varies from program to program.

Reading, PA Area

Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences

1025 Old Wyomissing Road, Reading, Pennsylvania 19611
(484) 628-0100
Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

The Surgical Technology Certificate program in Surgical Technology at Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences is based at their campus in the city of Reading, PA. Most of the school’s 362 students are on 2-year programs. Fees for tuition are about $9,825 per year, while books and supplies may cost in the order of $1,455, although this varies from program to program.

Scranton–Wilkes-Barre, PA Area

Lackawanna College

501 Vine St, Scranton, Pennsylvania 18509-3206
(570) 961-7810
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

Lackawanna College’s Associate-level Surgical Technology program is based at their campus in the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania. The majority of of the school’s 1,629 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Fees for tuition are about $14,580 per year, while books and supplies may cost in the order of $1,500, although this varies from program to program.

Luzerne County Community College

1333 South Prospect Street, Nanticoke, Pennsylvania 18634-3899
(570) 740-0200
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

The Associate’s program in Surgical Technology at Luzerne County Community College is taught at their campus in Nanticoke in Luzerne County. The college has in the region of 5,788 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The cost of tuition for in-district students is likely to be in the order of $5,040 and are $9,120 and $13,200 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Learning materials may cost about $2,000, although this will vary with the program.

Williamsport, PA Area

Pennsylvania College of Technology

One College Ave, Williamsport, Pennsylvania 17701-5799
(570) 326-3761
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

The Associate’s program in Surgical Technology at Pennsylvania College of Technology is taught at their campus in the city of Williamsport, PA. The majority of of the school’s 5,514 students are on 4-year programs. The college is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Fees for tuition for in-state students are likely to be in the order of $16,080 and for students from outside the state likely to be about $22,890 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $1,400, although this will vary with 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 Pennsylvania may also wish to review their options in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio.