Associate of Surgical Technology: Degree Overview

Oct 20, 2021

Essential Information

In a surgical technology associate's program, students learn to identify surgical equipment, sterilize patients' skin before incisions, dress and suture surgery sites, and take tissue samples. This 2-year degree can help students prepare to enter the workforce or transfer to 4-year degree programs.

Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED; math and science courses are recommended. Some programs require applicants to obtain experience shadowing in an operating room.

Associate's Degree in Surgical Technology

The curriculum offers theoretical instruction and supervised clinical work including exposure to common procedures, practices, and terminology. Course requirements usually include:

  • Pharmacology
  • Medical terminology
  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Pathology

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual salary for surgical technologists was $49,710 in 2020 ( According to the BLS, employment for surgical technologists is expected to grow 7% from 2019-2029 (faster than average). This growth may be attributed to advances in surgical technology, which may broaden surgical options and an aging population.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Individuals may obtain the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential by passing an examination administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) also offers certification. This 5-year certification gives successful candidates Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C) status. Technologists often have better career opportunities when they specialize in certain areas of surgery.

Graduates may join the workforce immediately after graduation or may pursue bachelor's degree programs. Surgical technology programs may not be available at a higher level of education, but students may transfer relevant coursework to related fields of study, including technology management or health science.

Students interested in becoming surgical technologists can start by earning an associate's degree in the field. Graduates will have mastered the required medical terminology and knowledge of surgical tools. They can also pursue certification, which isn't always mandatory, but is valued by employers. Bachelor's programs are available for students seeking additional education.

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