The Pros and Cons of a Career in Surgical Technology

A surgical technologist is a trained healthcare professional that works in and around the operating room, preparing patients, sterilizing equipment, setting up for procedures, and doing anything else that will help surgeries go more smoothly and safely. This can be a rewarding, lucrative, and stable career, but it may not be right for everyone.

Pro: Growth in Jobs is Strong

One of the best benefits of getting into a career in nearly any area of healthcare is that job growth is strong. All kinds of health professionals are in demand, but allied healthcare workers are especially needed. These are the people who support the work of nurses and physicians, and include surgical techs.

Hospitals, medical centers, outpatient surgery centers, and physician offices all need trained and qualified surgical techs. The growth in surgical technology jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is 9 percent, faster than average job growth and amounting to thousands of new positions in the ten years to 2028.

Pro: Enjoy a Good Salary as a Surgical Tech

The median wage for surgical technologists in the U.S. in May of 2019 was $23.22 per hour or $48,300 per year. Those who earn the highest wages in the field make more than $71,400 per year. There are great opportunities to earn a good living as a surgical tech, to earn more with experience, and to enjoy benefits like health care in full time positions. (This information is based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.)

Pro: Minimal Education Requirements

This is one healthcare career that does not require a four-year degree. In most states there are no set requirements for education or training, but most employers will only hire surgical techs that have completed a one-year certificate or two-year associate degree program. You can also choose to become a certified surgical technologist, which could give you an advantage over other job candidates. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting offers certification. To become certified you must complete an appropriate educational program and then pass the examination.

Con: The Work is Physically Demanding

One downside that you may find in this career is that it can be exhausting. Surgical techs are on their feet for much or all of their shifts. They are sometimes moving around to prepare for surgery, but at other times they have to stand still during an operation, waiting and listening for the surgeon’s instructions. They also need to lift heavy equipment at times.

Con: Hours Can Be Long and Include On-Call Time

Another issue some may have with working as a surgical technologist is the hours required. Surgeries go on day and night, and depending on where you work you may need to be on-call or working night shifts and weekends. Most surgical techs work full time, which is great for earning a good salary, but it may mean working long shifts, of 12 hours or more, a few days a week.

Pro: Surgical Technologists Have Room for Advancement

Being trained in surgical technology and having the experience of working in an operating room alongside doctors and nurses puts you in a great position to advance your healthcare career. From this position you can train on the job to become a surgical first assistant, or you can go back to school and earn credits toward becoming a nurse.

Pro: Making a Difference for People Every Day

For many surgical technologists the greatest benefit of this career is the ability to work with people and to make surgeries safer for patients. As a surgical tech you will prepare patients for surgery and help them feel better about going in for a procedure. You will be responsible for making sure the environment and equipment is sterile and operating so that the surgeon can do the best job possible for patients. Helping people can make your work rewarding and meaningful.

If you’re ready to make a difference for patients, to have an impact in healthcare, and to enjoy a steady career with a great salary, consider beginning your training to become a surgical technologist.

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