How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Tennessee

Tennessee law defines a surgical technologist as a professional working under the supervision of physicians and nurses to support and make surgical procedures safer and more effective. A surgical tech is an allied healthcare worker who directly assists surgeons and others, before, during and after surgeries with real patients. This is a hands-on, important job that includes maintaining sterilization of instruments, setting up equipment and working in the operating room. It takes just a year or two of coursework to begin working in this exciting career in Tennessee. [En Español]

Requirements for Surgical Technologists in Tennessee

Most states do not have any specific training or certification requirements for people who work as surgical techs, but Tennessee is an exception. Here you must meet just one of the following requirements in order to work in this role:

As of 2013 Tennessee law also requires that employed surgical technologists complete 15 hours of continuing education coursework every year to remain eligible to hold that position.

NBSTSA Certification

Unless you served in the military and trained there as a surgical technologist, you will need to go through the NBSTSA for certification, which requires the completion of an accredited training program. Certification is awarded when you successfully complete a CAAHEP-accredited program, earning a certificate or an associate degree, and after you pass the certification exam.

In order to maintain valid NBSTSA certification, you need to complete approved continuing education courses. The certification must be renewed every four years, and for renewal to be accepted you must have completed 15 credits per year. To work as a surgical technologist in Tennessee through the certification requirement, you must show proof valid NBSTSA certification to your employer once a year.

Tennessee Schools for Surgical Technology

Certification through the NBSTSA is not strictly required to work as a surgical technologist in Tennessee. You can be eligible to work in the field after completing a program accredited by CAAHEP, with or without subsequent certification. There are several schools in the state that offer accredited programs:

  • Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Knoxville. The surgical technology program at TCAT Knoxville is a full-time load of courses that should take just 12 months to complete. It confers diplomas and prepares graduates to pass the certification exam. Students will spend six months in a clinical setting. The cost of tuition and fees for the program is $3,753, and the cost of books and supplies is $1,721.
  • Concorde Career College, Memphis. Students in Memphis can complete the 12-month surgical technology program at Concorde. The coursework includes classroom learning and training in patient care, sterilization of equipment and surgical assistance, as well as hands-on experience in a clinical setting.
  • Nashville State Community College, Nashville. This accredited program offers students the chance to earn a certificate and to be prepared to earn national certification in surgical technology. In addition to classes on campus, students will complete three courses in an externship, working hands-on with patients and medical professionals.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

The number of positions for qualified surgical technologists is growing rapidly, throughout the country and in Tennessee. National job growth in the field is 12 percent. In Tennessee, the number of employed surgical techs is expected to rise from 2,980 in 2016 to 3,460 in 2026, a growth rate of nearly 16 percent. Those new positions will need to be filled by the students training right now.

If you are hoping to become a surgical technologist in Tennessee, you have job security to look forward to and a good salary. The average hourly salary for these professionals in 2019 was $21.41, and the average annual income was $44,530. Salaries are higher for certified techs and those with more years of experience.

Working as a Surgical Technologist in Tennessee

The greatest opportunities for employment for surgical techs in the state are in the major population centers of Nashville and Memphis. Most surgical technologists are employed by hospitals, but other employers may include physician or dental offices that perform minor surgical procedures and ambulatory surgical centers. With just a year of training, and certification if you choose it, you can begin working in this rewarding career helping keep patients safer in operating rooms.

College Programs

Chattanooga, TN-GA Area

Miller-Motte Technical College-Chattanooga

6397 Lee Highway, Suite 100, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37421
(423) 510-9675 x200
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

The Surgical Technology Associate’s program in Surgical Technology at Miller-Motte College is offered at their Chattanooga campus in the city of Chattanooga. The majority of of the school’s 327 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Tuition fees are generally around $10,692 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,800, although this will depend on the program.

Jackson, TN Area

Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Jackson

2468 Technology Center Drive, Jackson, Tennessee 38301
(731) 424-0691 x114
Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

The Certificate program in Surgical Technology at Tennessee College of Applied Technology is based at their Jackson campus in Jackson in Madison County. This public college has around 420 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Fees for tuition are about $3,948 per year, while study materials may cost in the order of $2,400, depending on the program.

Knoxville, TN Area

Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Knoxville

1100 Liberty Street, Knoxville, Tennessee 37919
(865) 546-5567
Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Tennessee College of Applied Technology’s Certificate-level Surgical Technology program is taught at their Knoxville campus in the city of Knoxville, TN. Most of the school’s 1,108 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. The retention rate of full-time students at this college is 88%. Tuition fees for the Surgical Technology program are broadly about $3,555 per year, while study materials may cost in the order of $769. Usually, the program is completed in 12 months.

Memphis, TN-MS-AR Area

Concorde Career College-Memphis

5100 Poplar Avenue, Suite 132, Memphis, Tennessee 38137-0132
(901) 761-9494
Surgical Technology – Associate Program, Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Concorde Career College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their Memphis campus in the city of Memphis, TN. Most of the school’s 1,258 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Tuition fees for the Surgical Technology program are about $23,725 per year, while study materials may cost in the order of $2,357. Usually, the program is completed in 12 months.

Morristown, TN Area

Walters State Community College

500 South Davy Crockett Parkway, Morristown, Tennessee 37813-6899
(423) 585-2600
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

The Associate’s degree program in Surgical Technology at Walters State Community College is based at their campus in the city of Morristown, TN. This public college has in the region of 5,947 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually about $4,032 and for students from other states in the order of $15,696 per year, while study materials may cost in the order of $1,200, depending on the program.

Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Area

Fortis Institute-Nashville

3354 Perimeter Hill Drive, Suite 105, Nashville, Tennessee 37211
(615) 320-5917
0 – Certificate Program

Fortis Institute’s Certificate-level 0 program is taught at their Nashville campus in the city of Nashville. The majority of of the school’s 348 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. Fees for tuition are about $16,675 yearly, while study materials may cost about $835, depending on the program.

Meridian Institute of Surgical Assisting

1507 County Hospital Road, Nashville, Tennessee 37218
(615) 678-8196 x10
Surgical Assisting – Certificate Program

The Certificate program in Surgical Assisting at Meridian Institute of Surgical Assisting is taught at their campus in the city of Nashville, Tennessee. The majority of of the school’s 402 students are on diploma programs of under two years. The college is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools. Fees for tuition are broadly about $7,602 yearly, while study materials may cost about $1,313, depending on the program.

Nashville State Community College

120 White Bridge Rd, Nashville, Tennessee 37209-4515
(615) 353-3333
Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Nashville State Community College’s Certificate-level Surgical Technology program is taught at their campus in the city of Nashville, Tennessee. The college has in the region of 10,192 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition for in-state students are likely to be about $3,969 and for students from other states likely to be about $15,633 yearly, while study materials may cost about $1,512, depending on the program.

National College-Nashville

1638 Bell Road, Nashville, Tennessee 37211
(615) 333-3344
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

National College’s Associate program is taught at their Nashville campus in the city of Nashville. The majority of of the school’s 507 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Fees for tuition are about $11,466 yearly, while study materials may cost about $2,979, depending on the program.

Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Murfreesboro

1303 Old Fort Pky, Murfreesboro, Tennessee 37129-3311
(615) 898-8010
Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Tennessee College of Applied Technology’s Certificate-level Surgical Technology program is offered at their Murfreesboro campus in the city of Murfreesboro, TN. Most of the school’s 428 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Tuition fees for the Surgical Technology program are broadly about $3,426 yearly, while study materials may cost about $1,224. Usually, the program is completed in 12 months.

North Central Tennessee Nonmetropolitan Area Area

Fortis Institute-Cookeville

1025 Highway 111, Cookeville, Tennessee 38501-4305
(931) 526-3660
0 – Certificate Program

Fortis Institute’s Certificate-level 0 program is offered at their Cookeville campus in the town of Cookeville, TN. Most of the school’s 212 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Tuition fees are generally around $14,517 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,230, although this will depend on the program.

Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Crossville

910 Miller Avenue, Crossville, Tennessee 38555
(931) 484-7502
Surgical Technologist – Certificate Program

Tennessee College of Applied Technology offers various Certificate program options for future surgical tecnologists. Classes are taken at their Crossville campus in the town of Crossville. The college has about 397 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Tuition fees are around $3,948 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $2,890, although this will depend on the program.

South Central Tennessee Nonmetropolitan Area Area

Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Hohenwald

813 West Main, Hohenwald, Tennessee 38462-2201
(931) 796-5351
Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Tennessee College of Applied Technology’s Certificate-level Surgical Technology program is offered at their Hohenwald campus in Hohenwald in Lewis County, TN. The college has about 443 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Tuition fees are around $3,948 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $2,650, although this will depend on 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

See options in the neighboring states of Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri.