How to Become a Surgical Technologist in Washington

Surgical technologists, also called surgical techs or scrub techs, are responsible for patient care and assisting other members of the surgical team before, during and after surgery. Some examples of job duties for a surgical tech are making sure the operating room (OR) is clean, sterile and stocked for surgery, prepping the patient for surgery, transporting them to the OR and positioning them on the table for surgery, counting instruments and supplies and passing them to the surgeon or first assistant as needed during surgery, taking the patient to recovery after surgery, and cleaning, sterilizing and restocking the OR between surgeries. Surgical techs often report to the director of nursing at the hospital or clinic they work in. [En Español]

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In Washington, a surgical technology license or certification is not required to work, but surgical technologists do have to register with the Washington State Department of Health. Many employers in the state prefer to hire surgical technologists who are certified, and it is a requirement of some employers. Furthermore, basic life support (BLS) and CPR certification are required to work in most hospitals and clinics throughout Washington.

As for educational requirements, a high school diploma or its equivalent is a requirement to work most anywhere in the state. Completing a surgical technology program that is accredited is also a requirement if you are planning to become a certified surgical technologist (CST).

Surgical Technologist Registration and Certification in Washington

Before working as a surgical technologist in Washington, you must first register through the Washington State Department of Health. To apply to register, you must do the following:

  • Provide your social security number
  • Pass a background check
  • Pay the $70 application fee
  • List all states where you currently hold or have previously held credentials
  • Answer personal data questions
  • Complete HIV/AIDS training

Surgical technologists in Washington must renew their registration every year to remain current. There are no continued education requirements for renewal.

Certification is also not required, but many Washington healthcare providers prefer to hire certified surgical technologists (CSTs). To obtain certification you will need to take the exam administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Prior to taking the exam you will need to complete an accredited surgical technology program. Members of the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) pay a $190 fee to take the NBSTSA exam, while the exam fee for non-members is $290.

This certification must be renewed every four years by taking 60 credit hours of continued education before you apply for renewal or by retaking the exam. A renewal fee will apply, and if you choose to take the exam again you will have to pay to do that also. In Washington, the exam can be taken in Bellingham, East Wenatchee, Everett, Federal Way, Kennewick, Olympia, Seattle, Spokane, Vancouver and Yakima.

Surgical Technology Programs in Washington

Washington has 17 schools that offer either certificate or degree programs in surgical technology that are accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Graduating from one of these programs will enable you to take the NBSTSA exam.

  • Bellingham Technical College. The Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree program at Bellingham Tech takes in new students once a year in the fall semester. This program consists of 108 credit hours. Forty-eight of these hours consist of pre-requisite general education courses, and the remaining credit hours are program courses and clinical hours that are taken over three semesters. To be admitted to this program students must complete a Test of Essential Academic Skills exam with passing scores in reading, mathematics, science and English. They must also pass a placement test in Reading and Math. Other admission requirements include:
    • Completing a program application
    • Passing a background check and drug screen
    • Providing any transcripts and high school diploma and GED
    • Being 18 or older
    • Passing a physical exam and have current immunizations
    • Holding current BLS and CPR certification
    • Having current medical insurance

      This program has a 97 percent job placement rate after graduation, and 100 percent of students who take this program pass their NBSTSA exam.

  • Seattle Central College. Seattle Central College also offers an AAS degree program in surgical technology that can be completed in 15 months. Pre-requisite courses that must be taken and passed with a 2.0 GPA or higher before entering the surgical technology program are: Math, Statistics, Medical Terminology, Human Anatomy & Physiology, General Psychology, Lifespan Psychology and English.
  • Spokane Community College. Spokane Community College offers prospective surgical technologists an AAS degree program in surgical technology. This program consists of 92 credit hours, which can usually be completed in two years but must be completed in three years. A 2.0 GPA or higher must be maintained in program-specific courses before students can complete the next semester of the program. Students start in the fall semester and are accepted from a wait list. Other admission requirements to the program include:
    • High school diploma or equivalent
    • Passing a placement test in Math and English
    • Passing the prerequisite classes: Biology, Math and Computer Information
    • Passing a background check

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations

Job growth in the surgical technology field is steady across the country, and Washington is no exception. There is an expected growth increase of 20 percent in this field in the state of Washington. In 2016, 2,040 surgical technologists were employed in the state. With the predicted job field growth, at least 2,450 surgical techs should be working in Washington by the year 2026.

Surgical technologists in Washington make an average of $28.55 an hour, or $59,380 annually. Surgical techs who have a certificate or degree and are certified can potentially earn more than the annual average. The highest earners in this field in the state of Washington can make as much as $78,660 per year.

Salary Range for Surgical Technologists

Area10th percentile25th percentileMedian75th percentile90th percentile
Washington4202046680545006221071830

Salaries in Washington by Region

AreaTotal EmployedAverage Hourly WageAverage Annual Salary
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA30$26.34$54,790
Kennewick-Richland, WA50$25.40$52,830
Olympia-Tumwater, WA60$25.64$53,340
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA890$24.67$51,310
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA1,290$27.20$56,570
Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA270$26.37$54,850
Wenatchee, WA40$23.65$49,180
Yakima, WA60$24.13$50,200

Working as a Surgical Technologist in Washington

You will most often find surgical technologists working in the surgical wing of hospitals. However, they may also find work in surgery centers, birthing centers and plastic surgery clinics. In Washington, larger cities, such as Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, Spokane, Vancouver and Bellevue, are most likely to have more job openings. Some places you may consider for employment in Washington are Providence Health & Services, Swedish Medical Center and Aureus Medical Group.

If you are interested in working as a surgical technologist in Washington, now is the time while the growth rate is steadily climbing. In three years or less, you can complete a surgical technology program, sit for the NBSTSA exam, register as a surgical tech and be prepared to work anywhere within the state.

College Programs

Bellingham, WA Area

Bellingham Technical College

3028 Lindbergh Ave, Bellingham, Washington 98225-1599
(360) 752-7000
Surgery Technology – Associate Program

The Associate’s program in Surgery Technology at Bellingham Technical College is based at their campus in the city of Bellingham, WA. The majority of of the school’s 2,403 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually in the order of $3,394 and for students from outside the state in the order of $8,739 per year, while books and supplies may cost in the order of $1,080, although this varies from program to program.

Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, WA Area

Columbia Basin College

2600 N 20th Ave, Pasco, Washington 99301
(509) 547-0511
Surgical Technology – Associate Program, Operating Room Aide – Certificate Program

Columbia Basin College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Pasco in Franklin County, Washington. Most of the school’s 6,422 students are on 4-year programs. The college is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally in the order of $4,163 and for students from outside the state approximately $6,436 annually, while books and supplies may cost around $825, although this varies from program to program.

Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division Area

Renton Technical College

3000 NE Fourth St, Renton, Washington 98056-4123
(425) 235-2352
Surgical Technologist – Associate Program, Surgical Technologist – Certificate Program

Renton Technical College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Renton. This public college has about 3,961 students in total, with the majority of students on 4-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Fees for tuition are broadly about $4,836 for each academic year, while study materials may cost roughly $825, depending on the program.

Seattle Central College

1701 Broadway Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98122
(206) 934-3800
Surgical Technology – Associate Program, Surgical Technology – Certificate Program

Seattle Central College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program and a Certificate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Seattle, WA. This public college has approximately 6,574 students in total, with most students on 4-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Tuition fees for in-state students are in the order of $3,925 and for students from outside the state approximately $4,332 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $825, although this will depend on the program.

Spokane, WA Area

Spokane Community College

1810 North Greene Street, Spokane, Washington 99217-5399
(509) 533-8020
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

The Surgical Technology Associate’s degree program in Surgical Technology at Spokane Community College is offered at their campus in the city of Spokane, WA. The college has around 10,218 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally about $3,393 and for students from other states approximately $8,738 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,134, although this will depend on the program.

Tacoma, WA Metropolitan Division Area

Clover Park Technical College

4500 Steilacoom Blvd SW, Lakewood, Washington 98499-4004
(253) 589-5800
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

The Associate’s program in Surgical Technology at Clover Park Technical College is taught at their campus in the city of Lakewood, WA. This public college has around 3,650 students in total, with the majority of students on 4-year programs. The college is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Fees for tuition for in-state students are about $5,865 and for students from other states likely to be about $11,906 yearly. Study materials can cost about $825, depending on the program chosen.

Yakima, WA Area

Yakima Valley College

South 16th Ave. & Nob Hill Blvd., Yakima, Washington 98907-2520
(509) 574-4600
Surgical Technology – Associate Program

Yakima Valley College’s Associate program in Surgical Technology is taught at their campus in the city of Yakima. This public college has about 3,960 students in total, with most students on 4-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Fees for tuition for in-state students are about $4,230 and for students from other states likely to be about $4,637 yearly, while study materials may cost about $825, depending 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

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