How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Puerto Rico

A career in surgical technology is exciting and meaningful. No two days on the job will be the same, and you will have great opportunities to work with patients and to make a difference by improving the safety of surgeries. Surgical techs work alongside surgeons to prepare operating rooms, sanitize equipment, hand instruments to surgeons during procedures and perform other important tasks right in the operating room. [En Español]

If you want to become a surgical technologist in Puerto Rico, you can complete a post-secondary education program and begin looking for work in hospitals, surgery center, and physicians’ offices. It is an important career and one that you will find rewarding and fulfilling.

Requirements for Working as a Surgical Tech in Puerto Rico

The government of Puerto Rico does not have any minimum requirements for education and training of surgical technologists. There is also no requirement to be licensed or certified. Employers on the island decide who qualifies to work as a surgical tech. Most of these employers prefer to hire those candidates who have at least completed a certificate or degree program in surgical technology. Some may want to see that you have national certification through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

NBSTSA Certification for Surgical Technologists

NBSTSA certification is not a requirement to work as a surgical technologist in Puerto Rico, and getting this certification there is not easy. NBSTA certifies surgical techs by exam, but to qualify for the exam you must first graduate from a program that is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Unfortunately, there are currently no accredited programs on the island, so to qualify for the certification exam you would need to go to school somewhere else first.

Surgical Technology Programs in Puerto Rico

While there are no programs in Puerto Rico that are accredited by the institutions approved by the NBSTSA, there are several surgical technology programs on the island that will train you and prepare you to do this job and to be hired by hospitals and other employers:

  • Educational Technical College, Recinto de Coamo. This certificate program takes less than two years to complete for most students. It includes coursework in the classroom setting as well as hands-on training in a clinical setting. The program is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
  • Antilles College of Health, San Juan. In the capital and largest city on the island, students can complete a certificate program in surgical technology. Depending on whether you choose day or evening classes, the program takes 16 or 18 months to complete. There are classroom courses and clinical training and experiences, and the program’s costs are estimated to be about $14,000. The program is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.
  • Atenas College, Manati. The Atenas certificate program in surgical technology is accredited by the ACCSC. The program includes 46 credits of coursework, including at least 315 actual hours working in a clinical setting for hands-on experience.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

Not many careers are growing right now in Puerto Rico, but there remains a need for qualified health care professionals, and that includes surgical technologists. This is also a career that is easily transferable to other areas, including any of the 50 U.S. states. If you train to become a surgical tech but struggle to find a position on the island, there is greater demand in the states.

The income for a surgical technologist on Puerto Rico was $8.47 per hour and $17,610 per year on average in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This may be inaccurate, however, as the island has been under austerity measures, which has forced wages down. The actual salaries right now are likely to be lower than these calculated averages.

Working as a Surgical Technologist in Puerto Rico

Surgical technologists most often work in hospitals, because they are needed in operating rooms. However, they can also be hired in outpatient surgical centers and physicians’ offices that perform minor surgeries. Most job opportunities for surgical techs in Puerto Rico are in and near the largest cities of San Juan, Bayamón, Carolina, Ponce and Caguas.

Some of the larger hospitals in Puerto Rico are HIMA-San Pablo hospitals in Caguas and Bayamón and Auxilio Mutuo Hospital of Puerto Rico in Hato Rey. To get into this exciting career, start with one of the island’s certificate programs. Within two years or less you can be a working surgical technologist.

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