How to Become a Surgical Technologist in South Carolina

According to South Carolina law, a surgical technologist is a professional who works under the supervision of surgeons and nurses in a surgical environment assisting with life-saving procedures. In many ways, surgical technologists are the backbone of any surgery, which means that becoming a surgical technologist is a very rewarding career choice.

As a surgical tech you will provide an array of pre-surgical, surgical and post-surgical duties as part of the operating room (OR) team, including but not limited to ensuring the OR is sanitary and that all surgical equipment is set up properly, preparing patients for surgery and taking them to recovery room post-op. Additionally, throughout the duration of the surgical procedure, surgical techs are responsible for handing instruments to the surgeon as needed. [En Español]

Requirements for Surgical Technologists in South Carolina

Not every state requires surgical technologists to become certified or obtain formal education, which means that it is not uncommon for employers to set their own guidelines and requirements for the surgical techs they hire. In order to practice as a surgical technologist in South Carolina, you will need to become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST). However, this certification requirement comes with some exceptions.

As a surgical tech working in South Carolina you will need to meet one of the following requirements:

  • Successfully complete an accredited education program for surgical technology and hold (and maintain) the Certified Surgical Technologist credential that is administered by the NBSTA
  • Complete an appropriate training program for surgical technology in the United States Armed Forces or the U.S. Public Health Service
  • Show previous employment as a surgical technologist in a healthcare facility in the state before January 1st, 2008
  • Be in the service of the Federal Government

In addition to the above, surgical techs in South Carolina must complete at least 15 hours of continuing education each year to remain qualified for employment and to maintain a valid certification. If you are a recent graduate from an accredited educational program for surgical technology, a healthcare facility may employ you from the date of graduation for a period of three months. If, however, you do not obtain your CST within those three months you will not be permitted to continue practicing surgical technology without showing documentation to your place of employment.

NBSTSA Certification

Unless you meet one of the four requirements noted above, you will need to go through the NBSTSA for your certification, which does require the completion of an accredited training program. Certification is awarded when you successfully complete a CAAHEP-accredited program or ABHES-accredited program, earning a certificate or an associate’s degree, and after you pass the certification exam.

Surgical Technology Programs in South Carolina

If you’re someone who looking to dive into this new, exciting and very rewarding career, you will need to attend an accredited surgical technology program in order to become certified through the NBSTSA and work as a surgical tech in South Carolina. While there are many surgical technology programs you will need to seek out a certification or a degree program that is accredited by The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

There are several schools in South Carolina that offer accredited surgical technology programs including:

  • Miller-Motte Technical College, Charleston. The surgical technology program at Miller-Motte Technical College is an Associate’s of Applied Science degree in Surgical Technology, which can be completed in as little as 18 months. This hands-on training helps provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge they need to obtain their CST through the NBSTSA. This program is also what the school considers to be a CampusFlex Track program, which means students can take classes on campus in a traditional group setting and also complete some coursework online.
  • Midlands Technical College, Columbia. For students who would prefer to obtain their certification more quickly than 18 months, Midlands Technical College in Columbia, South Carolina, offers a surgical technology diploma program that can be completed in as little as 12 months. This diploma program is certified through CAAHEP, so once students complete this program they will be eligible to sit for the Certified Surgical Technologist Exam. The last eight graduating classes of Midlands Technical College’s Surgical Technology program have had a 100 percent passing rate on this exam.
  • Piedmont Technical College, Greenwood. This accredited diploma program at Piedmont Technical College provides a hands-on surgery lab and three semesters of clinical experience to ensure that students gain essential hands-on surgical skills. Upon completion of this year-long program students will be eligible to sit for the NBSTSA exam.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

The number of positions for certified surgical technologists is growing rapidly throughout South Carolina and the United States, with the national job growth in the field being 12 percent. In South Carolina, the number of employed surgical techs is expected to rise considerably from 1,780 in 2016 to 2,050 in 2026, a growth rate of 15.5 percent.

If you are planning on becoming a certified surgical technologist in South Carolina you will have more than just job security and a great salary; you will also make a positive impact on people’s lives on a daily basis. The average hourly salary for certified surgical technologists in South Carolina in 2019 was $19.73, with an average annual salary of $41,030. This salary is expected to be higher as you gain more experience within the field, and working in certain locations, like in and around Charleston, offer a higher salary as well. Conditions in your area may vary.

Working as a Surgical Technologist in South Carolina

The greatest opportunities for employment for surgical technologists in South Carolina are often found in the cities of Charleston, Mount Pleasant and Greenville. Most surgical techs in the state are employed in hospitals, but it’s also very common for surgical technologists to work in outpatient surgical centers as well as physician or dental offices that perform minor surgical procedures. With less than a year of training (or more, if you decide to attend an associate’s degree program), you will be able to seek out employment, sit for the NBSTSA exam and begin working in this rewarding field.

Neighbor States

Residents of South Carolina may also wish to review their options in North Carolina and Georgia.

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