How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Texas
Surgical technologists are supportive healthcare professionals who work under the guidance of surgeons and operating room (OR) or scrub nurses. They have a lot of contact with patients as they help prepare them for surgery and then take them to recovery after surgery. Surgical technologists are also responsible for prepping the OR, making sure it is a sterile environment and that all equipment, supplies and instruments are working and sanitized.
They assist the surgical team in dressing for surgery by helping them into sterilized caps, gowns and gloves. During surgery, the surgical technologist will monitor the patient’s vitals, as well as the instruments and supplies and will hand the surgeon whatever tools they may need. If any specimens are collected during the procedure, the surgical tech may be responsible for taking them to the lab. [En Español]
Surgical technologists in Texas are required to hold national certification. Educational requirements for the state include a high school diploma or equivalent and completion of an accredited post-secondary surgical technology program. Current CPR certification is also required by most Texas employers.
Becoming a Certified Surgical Technologist in Texas
In Texas, surgical technology is regulated by the Texas State Assembly of Association of Surgical Technologists (AST). To work as a surgical technologist in Texas, you must complete a surgical technology program that is accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). You must also hold certification as a surgical technologist through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Assisting (NBSTSA) or the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT).
Students who have completed an accredited post-secondary surgical technology program are eligible to take the NBSTSA exam. The exam fee is $190 for AST members and $290 for non-AST members. There are several locations in which you can take the NBSTSA exam in Texas. These locations include:
- Anderson Square and Lacosta Corporate Park in Austin
- Corpus Christi
- Richardson-Collins Boulevard and One Empire in Dallas
- The Atrium in El Paso
- Fort Worth
- Northwest Freeway in Houston
- The Atrium in East Houston
- Greenbriar Place in North Houston
- Sam Houston Parkway in Southwest Houston
- Computer Drive and Park Ten Boulevard in San Antonio
- Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls
To keep certification current, NBSTSA certified surgical techs are required to renew their certification every four years. A renewal fee is required. You can renew your certification by either taking a total of 60 continued education credits or by taking the NBSTSA exam again every four years. Those who choose to retake the exam will be required to pay the exam fee again.
There are four different ways to be eligible to take the NCCT exam: be a current surgical technology student, a graduate of a surgical technology program, a practicing surgical technologist or an active military member who has completed surgical technology training. The exam fee is $155 for current students and graduates who take the exam within nine months of their graduation. The exam fee is $195 for those who take the test more than nine months after they have graduated. Practicing surgical technologists must have a high school diploma and three years of experience in the past five years. Military members must be high school graduates and have completed surgical technology training while in the military within the past five years. NCCT certification is up for renewal annually.
Graduates of an accredited surgical technology program may work in Texas without certification if they take a certification exam within 180 days of their graduation.
Surgical Technology Programs in Texas
Completion of a surgical technology program that is accredited by either the CAAHEP or ABHES is required to take the NBSTSA exam and to work as a surgical technologist in Texas. There are 58 colleges in Texas that offer accredited programs. Below are a few examples of these programs.
- Austin Community College has both a certificate program and an Associate in Science (AS) degree program in surgical technology. The AS degree consists of 60 credit hours of combined classroom instruction and clinical work. Prerequisites of the program, which are included in the total credit hours, are Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2, Mathematics, Essentials of Medical Terminology, Microbiology and Pharmacology. The certificate program consists of 51 credit hours and the same prerequisites as the AS degree. Both programs take approximately two years to complete. To be accepted into either program, students must have a physical exam, current immunizations, current health insurance, and pass a background check and drug test.
- Baptist School of Health Professions in San Antonio offers an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) Degree in Surgical Technology. It takes two years to complete this program. Prerequisite courses are three credit hours of any college-level English course. There is a current 100 percent pass rate for students who take the national certification exam after graduating from this program. Before being admitted into this program, students must complete a physical exam, have proof of current immunizations, pass a drug test and background check, and provide proof of health insurance and CPR certification.
- The Houston Northwest and San Antonio campuses of the College of Healthcare Professions offer an (AAS) degree in surgical technology. The program is a combination of classroom instruction and a clinical externship. The program is 80 weeks long (approximately two years) and consists of 91.5 credit hours. There is a 90 percent pass rate for graduates of this program who take the national certification exam.
Allied Health Education Programs in Texas
Allied Health education programs can be found in many colleges throughout Texas. These are short-term, non-degree certification programs for students who want to become certified as a surgical technologist without completing an accredited degree program. The cost of these programs varies, but the average cost is $3,000 to $5,000. These courses include instruction in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, surgical procedures, patient care and preparation for the NBSTSA certification exam. Many of these programs offer state-of-the-art simulation labs where students can gain experience in a simulated operating room environment. Graduates of these programs are eligible to take the NBSTSA exam for certification as a surgical technologist.
The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) is the organization that provides certification for surgical technologists in Texas. To be eligible to take the NBSTSA exam, candidates must have graduated from an accredited surgical technology program or completed an allied health education program. Candidates who have graduated from an accredited program will receive a Certificate of Completion, which must be submitted along with the application for the NBSTSA exam. Candidates who have completed an allied health education program must submit proof of their completion and a copy of their transcript in order to be eligible to take the exam. Once candidates pass the NBSTSA exam, they are certified as a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST).
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
There were 9,470 surgical technologists working in the state of Texas in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This job field is one that is steadily growing. The number of surgical technologists working across the United States is expected to see an overall growth of 11.7 percent by the year 2026. Texas ranks 2nd in the U.S. for the highest employment level of surgical technologists. Within the state, Dallas and Houston employ the most surgical techs.
As of May 2019, surgical technologists in Texas were making an average of $23.65 an hour, and $49,190 annually. Surgical techs may earn anywhere from $15.82 an hour for those just starting out, up to as much as $32.47 an hour for those who are more experienced. The top- earning surgical technologists in the state make an average of $67,530 annually. Salary may also vary depending on location. Surgical techs in Dallas make an average of $51,310 annually, and those in Houston make an average of $53,560.
Working as a Surgical Technologist in Texas
Surgical technologists may find work in places such as hospital operating rooms, outpatient surgical clinics, private practices, cardiac catheterization units, endoscopic departments or children’s hospitals. If you work in specialty clinics, you will most likely focus on one area of surgery. If you work in a hospital or outpatient clinic, you will probably help with various types of surgeries. Some of the larger hospitals you may consider when looking for work in Texas include Houston Methodist, South Austin Medical Center and Baptist Emergency Hospital. Besides Dallas and Houston, some other cities in Texas that have a high concentration of surgical technologists are Austin, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Lubbock, Plano and San Antonio.
Although completing a formal surgical technology program and becoming nationally certified are requirements to work as a surgical technologist in Texas, most surgical tech programs take just one to two years to complete. And some places will hire you between graduation and certification, if you have plans to become certified. This means that within the next couple of years, you can be ready to work anywhere within the state and be well on your way to becoming a top-earning surgical tech.