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What Do Surgical Technologist Do?

Surgical Technologists bring a unique blend of sterilization protocol and operation procedures to operating rooms. Whether assisting during operations or preparing a sterile workspace, Surgical Technologists are vital to patient safety before, during, and after operations. Pursuing a career as Surgical Technologists is a great way to contribute to the healthcare field. 

Training to become a Surgical Technologist is a great way to quickly transition into and contribute to the healthcare industry. 

What is a Surgical Technologist?

A Surgical Technologist, sometimes called a Scrub Tech or Surg Tech, works closely with Surgeons and other members of a surgical team before, during, and after an operation. To help each operation run smoothly, Surgical Technologists prepare the appropriate supplies, medications, and instruments prior to surgery. They’re experts in sterilization and aseptic techniques, who strive to minimize the risk of infection for patients during surgery.

Scrub Techs are typically responsible for:

  • sterilizing patients for surgery
  • transporting patients to the operating room
  • preparing and sterilizing medical instruments for surgery
  • handing Surgeons the appropriate tools during surgery
  • counting supplies to ensure no foreign objects are left in the patient after surgery
  • disinfecting areas for incision and more

What Does a Surgical Tech Do?

While the specific tasks a Scrub Tech performs can vary based on where they work, there are some commonalities across each position. 

Scrub Techs prepare operating rooms by setting up the appropriate equipment and ensuring it’s working properly prior to surgery. They ensure the operating room is well-stocked with supplies, so the Surgeon has everything they need throughout the operation. Once they bring patients into the operating room, they disinfect incision sites and cover the patient with sterile drapes.   

During an operation, they stand alongside Surgeons to serve as a second pair of hands. They hand Surgeons the appropriate tools throughout an operation and hold surgical instruments or internal structures in place during an operation. 

Once a Surgeon has completed their task, Surgical Techs may dress or bandage a patient’s wound. They count surgical instruments after an operation to ensure no foreign bodies are left in the patient and clean and restock the operating room after each surgical procedure. While they may also escort patients to designated recovery areas, they don’t treat patients during recovery.

Where Can Surgical Techs Work?

71% of Surgical Technologists are employed at state, local, and private hospitals. They can also find work in physician’s offices and outpatient care centers. They can support Surgeons with both major and minor surgical procedures in a wide range of medical specialties. 

A Surg Tech’s work hours can vary depending on where they choose to work. Those working in physician’s offices may work eight-hour shifts throughout the week. Those working in a hospital may work longer shifts as well as on weekends and holidays. They may also be on call during nights or weekends. 

How Can You Become a Surgical Tech?

Those interested in becoming a Surgical Tech should first earn a high school diploma or its equivalent. After high school, they can begin training by completing an accredited Surgical Technology program at a postsecondary institution. While other institutions may award a certificate upon program completion, Miller-Motte College awards an Associate of Applied Science degree to graduates of our Surgical Technology program.

Some Surgical Technologists choose to earn their certification by taking the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam*. 


These postsecondary Surgical Technology programs are designed to help students learn anatomy, the disease process, the basics of safety care, sterilization techniques, infection control, and more. Students can practice their new skills and reinforce their understanding in hands-on simulation labs and clinical rotations. Under the guidance of industry-experienced instructors and professionals, they can gain confidence in their abilities and be better prepared for entry-level positions after graduation. 

Once they find work, Scrub Techs may be able to continue training on the job.

Do Surgical Techs Have to Be Certified?

Whether or not a Scrub Tech needs to be certified prior to working in the field depends on their state. In Tennessee, working Surgical Technologists must hold national certification from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) by passing the CST exam. 

Although earning certification isn’t mandatory in all states, doing so can speak to a Surgical Technologist’s expertise. This can improve a Scrub Tech’s employability and help improve their career opportunities. 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Surgical Tech?

How long it takes to become a Scrub Tech depends on a variety of factors such as:

  • being a full- or part-time student
  • Surgical Technology program length and award type
  • undergoing additional training for things like CPR or basic life support

Although most associate level Surgical Technology programs may be completed in less than two years, a part-time student may take longer to finish this program than a full-time student. Since most Surgical Technologist positions prefer employees certified in some form of basic life support, some Surg Techs may choose to earn these certifications independent of their programs. 

What is the Job Outlook for Surgical Technologists?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a five percent growth between 2022 and 2023 for Surgical Technologists. If these projections hold true, around 128,900 positions may seek qualified applicants to fill these openings. 

Start Training to Become a Surgical Technologist at Miller-Motte

Working alongside Surgeons and other surgical team members to ensure patient safety can bring personal and professional fulfillment. Before that can happen, it’s important to lay a strong foundation with an interactive program. 

The Miller-Motte College Surgical Technology Associate Degree program at the Chattanooga campus is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs ( upon the recommendation of the Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA).With our hands-on training and industry-experienced instructor led courses, we can help prepare our students for entry-level careers upon graduation.

Have questions about our Surgical Technology program that weren’t answered in our post? Give us a call at (800) 705-9182 or submit this form to request more information.


Blog Disclaimer: Information within this blog is for general information purposes only. STVT does not assume or guarantee certification/licensures, specific job/career positions, income earning potential or salary expectations based on the programs offered at STVT. Career and program information statements in this blog do not guarantee that programs or other information mentioned are offered at STVT.