The Fast-Growing Healthcare Field You’ve Probably Never Heard Of


By Published on July 12, 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that the surgical technician field is growing faster than average, not just in the healthcare industry, but compared to all available occupations! * There is currently a high demand for qualified surgical technicians to be present in every operating room and there is no cap in sight.

This is good news if you are thinking of entering this relatively unknown field, especially since you can get into this field with an associate’s degree!

Take a few minutes to find out what this fascinating career in healthcare is all about and if it’s something you may be interested in pursuing.

What Does a Surgical Technician Do?

In order to do their job well, surgeons need qualified, high-tech assistants in the operating room with them. Here’s a general rundown of the tasks that a surg tech performs before, during, and after a typical surgery:

  • Prepares the operating room for the procedure
  • Sterilizes the equipment
  • Ensures there are adequate supplies for surgery
  • Sets up robotic surgical equipment
  • Helps the surgeon put on gown and gloves
  • Helps by passing the surgeon the instruments and other sterile supplies
  • Holds retractors and internal organs in place during the procedure
  • Counts supplies, such as sponges, to make certain nothing is left inside the patient
  • Applies bandages and other dressings to the incision site
  • Handles specimens to be taken for laboratory analysis
  • Maintains a sterile environment
  • Restocks the operating room after the operation is over

As you can see, this is a very important, exciting, and hands-on job!

What Is the Work Environment Like?

Most surgical techs work in hospitals (about 71%) but others work at outpatient surgery centers. Scrubs are worn while in the operating room. This job requires you to be on your feet for hours at a time so sturdy, comfortable shoes are worn.

As far as work schedules go, most surgical techs work full-time and may also be on call during nights, weekends, and holidays. Shifts are usually scheduled to be 8 hours long but often go longer depending on the surgeries scheduled during the shift.

The work itself can be physically demanding. You will be moving patients around and lifting heavy trays of medical supplies. You also may be exposed to unpleasant sights, odors, and materials, as well as communicable diseases.

On top of the physical demands, this job is also mentally demanding due to the stress that can be experienced by the healthcare team during a patient’s medical care, especially if an emergency comes up.

What Is the Salary and Job Outlook?

Surgical techs usually enjoy a healthy salary, especially when you consider that this field doesn’t require an advanced degree. That means you could graduate quickly and get into a fulfilling career.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected the employment of surgical technicians and technologists to grow 12% * in just the next few years. This is faster than the average for all occupations, not just those in the healthcare industry.

This extreme growth is due to advances in medical technology that makes surgery a safer option, as well as the frequency of operations due to the many aging baby boomers. As this generation gets older, they are more willing than previous generations to seek medical treatment for improving their quality of life.

How Do You Become a Surgical Technician?

Future surgical techs can receive an associate’s degree from an accredited program which takes several months to two years to complete. During this time, courses will be taken in anatomy, physiology, biology, medical terminology, and pharmacology. The following knowledge and skills will be learned:

  • Patient care
  • Surgical asepsis
  • Surgical robotics and electronics
  • Sensory and plastic surgical procedures
  • Medical surgical nursing
  • And much more!

To be successful in this career, you must be detail-oriented, good at managing stress, and have high physical stamina.

All of this may sound like a lot, but keep in mind that on top of job growth and salary potential, this is a very rewarding career to be in. Every single day you’ll be helping patients to become healthier and improve their lives. You may end your shift tired, but you can also end it feeling pride and gratitude in what you have accomplished.

Does this sound like you and a career you’d be interested in pursuing? If so, request more information about the Surgical Technologist Associate of Occupational Studies degree program at the Stevens-Henager College West Haven (Ogden) campus!

For gainful employment information, including graduation rates, the median debt of graduates, and other data, see www.stevenshenager.edu/student-information.

* 12% according to https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/surgical-technologists.htm#tab-6. Job growth will vary by location and may be lower or higher than those listed.