Required Skills for Surgical Tech Certification

HealthcareNovember 14, 2013

American surgeons work wonders, but they need the support of a trained staff and available resources. The sophisticated equipment and instruments available in operating rooms required for many types of surgeries are available due to the skills of a qualified surgical tech. A surgical tech certification is the first step to a long career.

Between 2010 and 2020, the number of surgical tech jobs in the United States is predicted to increase by 19 percent, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The surge of aging baby boomers will coincide with a health care system facing rapid changes brought upon by the Affordable Care Act. As a result, that predicted percentage could be higher.


Learning basic human biology and anatomy are helpful, but an understanding of surgical instruments, how to prepare an operating room and patients for surgery and how to close an operating room will be your most vital clinical skills. Although only about one hundred different instruments are used for most surgeries, this knowledge should extend to both existing technology and the ability to learn new developments quickly.

You'll also need strong organizational skills to succeed both as a student and tech, which makes it a great field for detail-oriented people. If you believe that you top the list of organized people, know in advance that surgical tech work lends itself to a very particular kind of organization. Standardized tools dictated primarily by the type of surgery blend with enough flexibility to adapt to particular surgeons and unexpected events.

Excellent computer skills will not only go a long way in helping you learn these skills, but they are required for you to work in any modern surgical setting. Communicating with others and reading orders while simultaneously learning new techniques, policies and procedures are all dependent upon strong computer skills. A good training program will accomplish all of these, so knowing where to find one is your first crucial decision.  


Surgeons expect speed and accuracy, so you need to learn how to listen carefully. Similarly, you need to express yourself concisely both verbally and in writing. You should expect to learn and use a wide vocabulary of medical and technical terminology. The ability to read and comprehend textbooks, operators' manuals and diagrams are important elements in earning your surgical tech certification.

Personal Traits

The principal physical demand on a surgical tech is having good vision and hearing along with the ability to stand and stay in one place for extended periods. Effective surgical techs take few shortcuts, so they tend to be detail-oriented and plan things carefully. Since you will learn and work with other skilled professionals, being a good team player is an indispensable characteristic. You may also find yourself in a leadership role with other students, peers and trainees. Like anyone in the health care field, a strong dedication to providing excellent care to patients is essential.

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