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Surgical Technician

 

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Education & Preparation 

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Employment & Outlook 

 

Sources of Additional Information 

 

 

Surgical Technicians, often called Operating Room Technicians, perform a variety of duties in an operating room before, during, and after surgery to provide technical support to the surgical team. These tasks ensure a sterile, safe, and surgical environment. 

 


JOB DUTIES 

 

Surgical Technicians may: 

 

Help the surgical team scrub and put on gloves, masks, and surgical clothing 

 

Set up sterile supplies, equipment, instruments, and linen for the operation 

Prepare patient by washing, shaving, and disinfecting area of the body to undergo surgery 

Assist the surgical nurse as needed 

Assist in positioning patient for surgery 

Assist the anesthesiologist during administration of anesthetic 

Pass instruments, sponges, sutures, and needles to surgeons or their assistants 

Hold retractors and cut sutures 

Operate lights, sterilizers, suction machines, and diagnostic equipment, as well as handle drugs 

Maintain specified supplies of fluids, such as plasma and blood 

Help with application of bandages 

Transfer patient to the recovery room 

Prepare specimens for laboratory analysis 

Clean operating theater following surgery 

Wash and sterilize used equipment 

Count sponges, needles, and instruments used during an operation 

To see Surgical Technicians and Technologists at work click here. 

The tools, equipment, and materials used may include: 

Surgical Technicians may pass to the surgeon or assistant such items as: 

* Surgical instruments 

* Sponges 

* Sutures 

* Needles 

* Retractors 

* Staplers 

Surgical Technicians may use: 

* Suction machines 

* Diagnostic equipment 

* Lighting equipment 

* Sterilization equipment 

* Medical terminology 

* Sterile clothing, gloves & masks 

Technology used in this occupation: 

* Word Processing Software 

* Photo Imaging Software 

* Medical Software 

* Electronic E-mail Software 

* Database User Interface and Query Software 

* Computers (with Internet access)   


OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTIES 

079.374-022 SURGICAL TECHNICIANS, often called Operating Room Technicians, perform a variety of duties in an operating room before, during, and after surgery to provide technical support to the surgical team. These tasks ensure a sterile, safe, surgical environment. 

There are two kinds of surgical technicians. Scrub Technicians assist in the surgery and set up sterile instruments. Circulations Technicians deal with non-sterile items and equipment brought from outside and used in surgery so that the sterile team members do not come into contact with any substance that might destroy the aseptic environment. 

Technicians might also specialize in a particular area such as neurosurgery or plastic surgery. 

In addition to learning about these specialties, you may also find it helpful to explore the following Career Exploration Scripts: 

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WORKING CONDITIONS AND REQUIREMENTS 

Surgical Technicians are supervised by operating room supervisors and physicians. They work as part of a team of nurses, surgeons, assistants, and anesthesiologists. Surgical Technicians usually work in hospitals, but can be employed also in other institutions that have operating, emergency, or delivery rooms. A few Surgical Technicians are employed by one or more physicians. 

Surgical Technicians spend most of their time in an operating room. Operating rooms are cool, well lighted, and very clean. As a member of the surgical team, Surgical Technicians must wear sterilized gowns, caps, gloves, and gauze masks. They are often on their feet for long periods of time. 

The operating room can be a stressful place. An emergency may require instant response. Certain anesthetics used in the operating room are explosive but, because of the safety measures used, are controlled. 

Although Surgical Technicians usually work a 5-day, 40-hour week, they may be required to work on call (available on short notice to work any shift). Some are required to work rotating shifts. Surgical Technicians may belong to the Association of Surgical Technologists and pay periodic dues. 

You Should Prefer: 

Activities dealing with things and objects 

Activities providing services to benefit and help others 

Activities involving special techniques, processes, or methods 

You Should Be Able To: 

Respect individual rights and confidentiality of information 

Keep calm and work under stress 

Work as part of a team 

Understand medical terminology 

Learn the names of drugs and solutions used in surgery 

Work under supervision 

Perform a variety of duties 

Rate information using measurable standards 

Use step-by-step procedures in work (required in surgical operations) 

Math Problem You Should Be Able to Solve: 

An I.V. is to be administered which contains sugar and water. If the percentage of sugar to water is 1%, how much sugar do you put in a solution that has 1 liter of water? 

Reading Example You Should Be Able to Read and Comprehend: 

The most common side effect of aspirin and the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory is gastrointestinal irritation. 

Writing Example You Should Be Able to Produce: 

You should be able the write an explanation of any problems that might have occurred during the surgery for the patient. 

Thinking Skill You Should Be Able to Demonstrate: 

You should be able to use good judgment in analyzing what the doctor means with the instructions that he gives to you. 

Surgical Technicians may be certified by passing a comprehensive examination given by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting . 

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EDUCATION AND PREPARATION OPPORTUNITIES 

NOTE: On-The-Job Training provided by the employer or a High School Diploma or Equivalent or a Certificate (program of up to one year of study beyond High School) or an Associate Degree (Two years of study beyond High School) may qualify a person for this occupation. 

The following education and preparation opportunities are helpful in preparing for occupations in this Career Exploration Script: 

***SCHOOL SUBJECTS*** 

0700 CAREERS , 0900 COMMUNICATIONS , 1800 HEALTH & HEALTH CAREERS , 2200 MATH , 2900 SCIENCE , 3300 TECHNOLOGY 

***VOCATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS*** 

There are no Vocational Education Programs related to this Career Exploration Script. 

Students should obtain the local Education & Training Opportunities for information on what happens to students who successfully complete a program. This information is available at each high school or career/technical center. 

***POSTSECONDARY PROGRAMS*** 

166 SURGICAL TECHNOLOGY 

Programs in Surgical Technology provide opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills needed to perform a variety of duties assisting the surgical team in an operating room. The Surgical Technician helps in preparing patients for surgery, operating surgical equipment, and passing instruments to the surgeon. 

Courses vary from school to school but may include: 

Anatomy 

Clinical Practice 

Physiology 

General Surgical Procedures 

Microbiology 

Surgical Specialty Procedures 

Medical Terminology 

Operating Room Techniques 

  Search for a College and/or Instructional Program 

***APPRENTICESHIP OPPORTUNITIES*** 

There are no Apprenticeships related to this Career Exploration Script. 

***MILITARY TRAINING PROGRAMS*** 

Please check the Military web site at http://www.myfuture.com/ . 

MEDICAL CARE TECHNICIANS 

The military provides medical care to all men and women in the services. Medical care technicians work with teams of physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals to provide treatment to patients. They help give patients the care and treatment required to help them recover from illness or injury. They also prepare rooms, equipment, and supplies in hospitals and medical clinics. 

What They Do 

Medical care technicians in the military perform some or all of the following duties: 

Provide bedside care in hospitals, including taking the body temperature, pulse, and respiration rate of patients 

Feed, bathe and dress patients 

Prepare patients, operating rooms, equipment, and supplies for surgery 

Make casts, traction devices, and splints according to physicians' instructions 

Give medication to patients under the direction of physicians and nurses 

Physical Demands 

Some specialties in this area require sufficient strength to lift and move patients, and some require a normal skin condition to guard against infection. 

Helpful Attributes 

Helpful school subjects include general science, biology, and psychology. Helpful attributes include: 

Interest in helping others 

Ability to work under stressful or emergency conditions 

Ability to follow directions precisely 

Work Environment 

Medical care technicians work in hospitals and clinics on land or aboard ships. In combat situations, they may work in mobile field hospitals. 

Training Provided 

Job training consists of classroom instruction, including practice in patient care. Training length varies depending on specialty. Course content typically includes: 

Patient care techniques 

Emergency medical techniques 

Methods of sterilizing surgical equipment 

Plaster casting techniques 

Further training occurs on the job and through advanced courses. 

Civilian Counterparts 

Civilian medical care technicians work in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, psychiatric hospitals, or physicians' offices. They perform similar duties to those performed in the military. They may be called nurses aides, orderlies, operating room technicians, orthopedic assistants, or practical nurses. 

Opportunities 

The services need new medical care technicians each year. After job training, new technicians are assigned to hospitals or medical units where they work under close supervision. In time, they may advance to supervisory positions and help train others. 

  E-Learning Courses and Programs 

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OPPORTUNITIES FOR EXPERIENCE AND METHODS OF ENTRY 

Many Surgical Technicians are trained on the job. Experience may be gained through postsecondary programs in surgical technology. The military also provides training opportunities. 

School-to-Work opportunities include: 

informal apprenticeships 

mentorships 

job shadowing experiences 

touring a local Surgical Technician employer 

internships 

volunteer work with a Surgical Technician employer 

community service work with an agency 

To obtain a job as a Surgical Technician, you should apply directly to employers such as hospitals, surgeons' offices, and clinics. Employment opportunities may be listed in professional publications, such as the "Surgical Technologist", and newspaper want ads. Schools and hospital training programs often have placement services to help graduates find employment. Assistance may be obtained from a local office of Michigan Works! In addition, you should access and search the Internet's on-line employment services sites such as: 

Association of Surgical Technologists Career Center 

Michigan Jobs & Career Portal 

Michigan Talent Bank 

simplyhired.com 

Indeed | one search. all jobs. 

Jobster 

MONSTER.COM 

CareerBuilder 

You should also enter an electronic resume on these on-line services. 

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EARNINGS AND ADVANCEMENT   

Graduates of hospital training programs, community college programs, or Technicians certified by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting often earn higher salaries than Technicians without formal training or certification do. Salaries may vary also by individual education, experience, and geographic location. 

Nationally, annual salaries (mid 2009) for Surgical Technicians employed by hospitals and related institutions ranged between $35,200 and $42,000, with an average of $39,000.  The median yearly earnings of "all" workers in the U.S. were $37,544 in 2008. 

Surgical Technicians employed by the federal government started at $24,156 per year in 2009. The salaries of these federal government workers may be higher in some urban areas. 

In Michigan hospitals, Surgical Technicians had the following annual salaries (mid 2009): 

AREA 

AVG. MIN. 

AVG. MAX. 

AVERAGE 

State-wide 

$35,090 

$43,035 

$38,979 

Southeast 

$37,814 

$43,410 

$40,498 

South West 

$36,338 

$43,909 

 $39,790 

West Central 

$33,550 

$39,208 

$36,109 

Upper Peninsula 

$30,326 

$34,757 

$32,885 

Surgical Technicians may receive additional pay for being on call. 

Depending on the employer, Surgical Technicians receive paid vacations and holidays; life, disability, and hospitalization insurance; retirement plans; and sick pay. Hospital employees may also receive dental or optical insurance. 

Most Surgical Technicians are trained in hospitals, vocational- technical schools, and community colleges. Most training programs last from 9 months to 1 year. On-the-job training programs in many hospitals include classroom instruction and vary from 6 weeks to 1 year in length, depending on the trainee's qualifications. There is no formal line of promotion for surgical technicians. 

Advancement for most Surgical Technicians means an increase in pay which comes with additional experience, training, or certification. Some may advance to operating room supervisors, directing other technicians, or become assistant operating room administrators who order supplies and arrange work schedules among other administrative duties. They may advance to become Surgical First Assistants.  With additional education and training, Surgical Technicians may advance to become registered nurses or physician's assistants. 

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EMPLOYMENT AND OUTLOOK 

Nationally, there were approximately 86,200 Surgical Technicians employed in 2006. Employment is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2016. The number of surgeries is expected to continue to increase because of such factors as population growth, technological advances that permit surgical intervention for more medical conditions, and widespread insurance coverage for surgical care. The industry distribution for Surgical Technicians looked like this: 

NAICS Code 

NAICS Industry Title 

% Employed 

622100 

General medical and surgical hospitals, public and private 

70.3 

6211-3 

Offices of health practitioners 

16.0 

621459 

Outpatient, laboratory, and other ambulatory care services 

7.5 

561300 

Employment services 

1.6 

622300 

Specialty (except psychiatric and substance abuse) hospitals, public and private 

1.4 

-- 

Others 

3.2 

To find employers, click Employer/Business Locator. 

There are about 2,725 Surgical Technicians employed in Michigan. The majority work in hospitals. Others are employed in nursing homes, clinics, mental institutions, doctors' offices, and university health centers. 

Employment of Surgical Technicians in Michigan is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2016. An average of 130 annual openings is expected, with 50 due to growth and 80 to replacement of Technicians who retire, die, or leave the labor force for other reasons. Additional openings will occur as workers change jobs or occupations. 

Surgical practice is experiencing a shift to more outpatient settings. Laser technology, fiber optics, and advances in anesthesia permit surgery on outpatients. All these measures are requiring more Surgical Technicians. 

MICHIGAN 'S AREA EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK TO 2016 

EMPLOYMENT 

NUMBER 

PERCENT 

PROJECTED YEARLY 

REGION 

EMPLOYED 

GROWTH 

JOB OPENINGS 

 

 

 

 

Michigan - State-wide 

2,725 

19.5 

130 

Ann Arbor Area 

155 

22.6 

9 

Benton Harbor Area 

55 

24.1 

3 

Central Michigan 

145 

25.0 

8 

Detroit Area 

1,120 

16.3 

52 

Flint Area 

155 

19.1 

8 

Grand Rapids Area 

180 

26.5 

11 

Jackson Area 

90 

18.2 

5 

Kalamazoo Area 

120 

18.3 

6 

Lansing MSA* 

170 

20.2 

8 

Muskegon Area 

60 

25.9 

4 

NorthEast Lower Peninsula 

65 

31.8 

4 

NorthWest Lower Peninsula 

80 

28.0 

5 

Saginaw Area 

200 

22.4 

11 

Thumb Area 

30 

22.6 

2 

Upper Peninsula 

115 

22.8 

7 

West Central Michigan 

25 

20.8 

2 

 

 

 

 

Note:   Areas may not add up to state-wide total due to rounding,
sampling, statistical error or omission due to confidentiality issues.
 

 

  * MSA designates a Metropolitan Statistical Area. 

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SOURCES OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION 

Michigan Health & Hospital Association 
6215 W. St. Joseph Highway 
Lansing, MI 48917 
(517) 323-3443 

Association of Surgical
Technologists, Inc.
 

6 West Dry Creek Circle, Suite 200
Littleton, CO 80120-8031
(303) 694-9130 or (800) 637-7433
 

American Hospital Association 
One N. Franklin 
Chicago, IL 60606 
(312) 422-3000 

National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting 
6 West Dry Creek Circle, Suite 100 
Littleton, CO 80120 
(800) 707-0057 

Federal, State and Local
Civil Service Offices 
 

Local Military Recruiters 

Local Hospitals and Clinics 

School and College
Placement Offices
 

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 Copyright © 2009 Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth 

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