How Long Does It Take to Become a Surgical Tech?

How Long Does It Take to Become a Surgical Tech?

Introduction to Surgical Technology

Surgical technology is a critical aspect of modern healthcare, playing a vital role in the operating room. Surgical technicians, commonly referred to as surgical techs, are skilled professionals who assist surgeons and other healthcare professionals during surgical procedures. They ensure that the operating room functions smoothly, equipment is properly sterilized, and patients are safely positioned for surgery.

Training and Education

Becoming a surgical tech typically requires a combination of formal education, certification, and on-the-job training. Most employers prefer candidates with a postsecondary certificate or associate degree in surgical technology. These programs cover essential topics such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and surgical procedures. Additionally, aspiring surgical techs must complete clinical training to gain hands-on experience in the operating room.

Duration of Training Programs

The length of training programs for surgical techs can vary depending on the institution and the type of program. Academic programs typically range from 9 months to 2 years, while clinical training may last an additional 6 months to a year. Accelerated programs may offer a shorter timeline for completion but require intense study and dedication.

Factors Influencing Time to Become a Surgical Tech

Several factors can influence the time it takes to become a surgical tech. Individuals with prior experience in healthcare may find it easier to transition into this role and may require less time for training. Additionally, enrolling in a full-time program can expedite the process compared to part-time enrollment. Some schools also offer accelerated programs that allow students to complete their training more quickly.

Overview of Certification Exams

After completing their education and training, aspiring surgical techs must pass a certification exam to become certified. The two main certification exams for surgical techs are the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam and the Tech in Surgery – Certified (TS-C) exam. Preparation for these exams typically involves self-study, review courses, and practice exams. The length of time needed to prepare varies depending on the individual’s study habits and knowledge base.

Average Time Frame to Become a Surgical Tech

On average, it can take anywhere from 1 to 2 years to become a surgical tech, including both education and certification. However, this timeline can vary depending on individual circumstances and the specific requirements of the program. Some individuals may complete their training more quickly through accelerated programs, while others may take longer if they choose part-time enrollment or require additional time for exam preparation.

Career Outlook and Opportunities

The demand for surgical techs is expected to grow in the coming years, driven by an aging population and advances in medical technology. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of surgical technologists is projected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. Additionally, surgical techs may have opportunities for advancement by specializing in specific areas of surgery or pursuing further education and training.


Becoming a surgical tech requires dedication, hard work, and a commitment to lifelong learning. While the path to becoming certified may vary for each individual, the reward of making a difference in patients’ lives and playing a crucial role in the operating room makes it a fulfilling career choice.