Facts and Fiction: What You Need to Know about Surgical Technology

February 19, 2019


Surgical technologists (also known as scrub techs) are an intrinsic part of any operating room team, and are relied upon to perform a wide variety of tasks. We’ve heard quite a few fallacies about this career, and as one of America’s leading allied healthcare training programs, we’d like to set the record straight about this exciting – and often misunderstood – career. 

Myth 1: All You Do Is Pass Tools to the Surgeon

Though they certainly hand surgical instruments over to surgeons during procedures, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to scrub techs’ responsibilities. 

These allied healthcare professionals work directly with patients – from positioning them on tables to disinfecting incision sites to transporting samples for analysis. Scrub techs often tend to be responsible for arranging and stocking operating theaters, and are considered an extra pair of capable hands in the OR. During certain procedures, they may even be asked to hold organs in place under the supervision of surgeons or nurses. 

Myth 2: Surgical Techs Are the Same as Nurses 

At times, the duties of nurses and surgical techs might overlap in the operating room – especially when it comes to providing patient care. There are, however, clear differences in their roles. 

Registered nurses (RNs) have a far greater range of specialized responsibilities, from providing medical advice to operating equipment. With the right training, RNs can administer anesthesia to patients as well. Surgical technologists might receive instructions from RNs during procedures. 

Myth 3: It Costs a Fortune to Get Certified

Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash 


The average cost of one year of medical school is more than $30,000, and these prices keep many prospective students from entering the field. Rather than spending a decade in med school, it’s possible obtain your surgical technologist certification by spending between $6,000 and $25,000. What’s more, your local training program may offer night courses, allowing you to raise a family or continue working full-time during the day. 

Kickstarting your future career with minimal debt is only one excellent reason to join this growing field. You’ll also be able to quickly learn whether the surgical field is a great fit for you. By gaining this insight (with minimal student loans and lucrative entry-level salaries), it’s not unheard of for scrub techs to go back to school to get their nursing or medical degree. 

Myth 4: Surgical Tech Training Courses Are Too Selective

It’s understandable to be apprehensive about applying to any allied healthcare training program, but don’t let it worry you: While surgical tech courses can be slightly competitive, quite a few factors tend to be taken into account. These can include:

  • Your highest level of completed education
  • GPA
  • Previous healthcare experience
  • Entrance exams 
  • School interviews

Myth 5: The Job Market Is Too Competitive 

Job security is not something that surgical technologists necessarily need to worry about. Over the next decade, there will be a massive demand for surgical tech jobs. Not only is this career anticipating an increased growth rate of 12%, but the national medical sector is expanding by leaps and bounds, too. 

A lot of this comes down to an aging elderly population. On average, senior citizens require more frequent surgeries, and (unlike previous generations) they’re far more likely to see a specialist who performs safer procedures. 

Myth 6: Scrub Tech Jobs Don’t Pay Well Enough 

We hear this a lot, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. As of 2017, the average annual salary for a surgical tech in the US was around $46,000 per year. That’s more than $22 an hour – one of the highest allied healthcare salaries out there. 

Many states require surgical techs to hold a nationally-recognized certification, with that number expected to rise as allied healthcare becomes more organized and competitive. Just like any career, people with better training can almost always count on better job offers and salaries. Clearly, certification is worth pursuing. 

Myth 7: Education Takes Too Long 

While it can take up to two years to obtain an associate degree, most surgical technologists certification programs require between 12 and 18 months. If you’re working full-time or raising a family, however, some programs offer evening course options (though they probably take a little longer to complete). 

As a surgical tech trainee, you’ll obviously need to complete a mix of classroom and clinical instruction. By combining coursework and real-world training, you’ll be prepared to sit for your certification exam(s). 

Kickstart Your Surgical Tech Career 

There’s literally never been a better time to join this growing allied healthcare field. Learn more about applying to the AIMS surgical technologist training program today!