Surgical technologists work directly at the center of life-saving and life-changing action. They perform important jobs like preparing patients for operation, keeping operating rooms stocked/sanitized, and providing technical support to surgeons and perioperative nurses. (See our full breakdown of the role in our “Day in the Life of a Surgical Technologist” post.)
If you’re planning on becoming a surgical tech, you’re probably excited to arrive on your first day on the job — but to get to your destination, you need a road map! In this installment of our healthcare career guides, we look at the steps that are needed for becoming a surgical technologist in California, including educational requirements, clinical training, and certification.
What education is required to be a surgical tech in California?
How long does it take to become a surgical tech?
Do you have to be certified to be a surgical tech in California?
What are the CST Exam eligibility requirements?
What is on the CST Exam?
Why should I become a certified surgical technologist?
What will I learn in a surgical technology program?
Get started on your journey to becoming a certified surgical technologist!
According to the California Employment Development Department’s (EDD’s) Occupational Profile on surgical technologists in California, employers typically prefer surgical technologists who have completed a post-secondary vocational training program. There are many different types of programs available, including certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs.
There may be employers who do not require the completion of a formal surgical technology program (in these cases, surgical techs gain their knowledge and skills through on-the-job training). However, completing a program can help maximize employment opportunities for candidates.
It typically takes anywhere from several months to two years to complete a formal surgical technologist program, with the duration varying by program. Associate degree programs will generally take longer than diploma or certification programs to complete.
You can earn your associate degree in as little as 20 months in the Surgical Technology program at American Career College.
No, certification is not required to work as a surgical technologist in California. However, passing he national Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) Exam administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) can help to formally demonstrate yourknowledge and skill within your field. This can help open the door to more job opportunities, as some employers may prefer or require certification.
If you want to become a CST, you will need to complete a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and/or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES). Once you finish your program, you will be eligible to sit for the CST Exam.
You could also choose an alternative certification option such as certification through the National Center for Competency Testing. This certification gives you the title of “Tech in Surgery - Certified” or TS-C. You can qualify to take this certification exam through formal education, military training, or work experience.
To sign up to take your certification examination, you will need to meet the following < ahref="https://www.nbstsa.org/cst-first-timeretake-applicants">CST Exam criteria:
You must have completed a program that was accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES during the time of your enrollment. You must also submit one of the following forms of documentation:
practitioner login page on the NBSTSA website. Mail-in applications are also accepted but may cause delays.
The format of the Certified Surgical Technologist Exam consists of 175 questions, of which 150 are scored. The questions cover the most frequent and important tasks that are performed by CSTs across the nation, which are determined through regularly scheduled job analysis surveys.
In order to pass the CST Exam, you must get 98 of the 150 scored questions correct.
Available at Los Angeles, Ontario and Anaheim
Choosing whether or not to pursue certification is a personal choice that each individual must determine based on their own goals and circumstances. However, a couple reasons people choose to become certified surgical technologists include the following:
Surgical technology is a great career path for individuals who thrive in fast-paced work environments and enjoy working in close-knit teams.
In a surgical technology associate degree program, students will take general education courses along with courses that teach subject matter and skills specific to the job of a surgical tech. Examples of topics that will be covered in the core courses of a surgical technology program include:
Most surgical technology programs require both traditional coursework as well as a certain number of clinical practice hours.
The surgical technology associate degree program at American Career College requires students to complete over 540 hours of clinicals prior to graduation. The program also gives students the opportunity to practice their skills in mock surgery labs on campus.
Ready to begin the process of becoming a surgical tech? It all starts with your education!
The ABHES-accredited Surgical Technology program at ACC can help put you on the path to becoming a certified surgical technologist, as you are required to take the CST Exam at the end of your program as part of your curriculum requirements.
The program is offered in a blended format, which means it combines online classes with in-person labs at one of ACC’s campuses in Los Angeles, Ontario, or Anaheim.
Learn more about the Surgical Technology program at ACC and apply today!
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