Surgical tech certification is a way for trained surgical technicians to demonstrate their expertise in the knowledge areas related to the surgical technician job description. In general, surgical techs who are certified by one of the certifying organizations below are more attractive to employers and can demand higher salaries.
Surgical techs become certified by gaining one or more credentials described below.
The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offers a surgical tech certification called the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST). This certification demonstrates expertise in areas such as pre-operative, intra-operative and post-operative care, as well as other skill areas and medical knowledge.
Candidates for the CST certification must be one of the following:
The Certified Surgical Tech Examination
Once eligible, the surgical tech certification candidate completes a written exam. The exam covers three major areas: perioperative care, additional duties, and basic science. Certification candidates follow recommended steps to prepare for and schedule the exam and pay examination fees. Some surgical techs choose to take the exam within the last month of surgical tech training or within one year of graduation.
After passing the exam, a surgical tech is free to use the Certified Surgical Technologist designation. The certification requires continuing education and must be renewed every 5 years.
Another surgical tech certification is called the Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C), offered through the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). This surgical tech certification demonstrates knowledge in several science and medical topics, surgical technician skill areas, and safety regulations.
Candidates for the TS-C certification must be one of the following:
The Tech in Surgery-Certified Examination
The TS-C exam covers topics such as medical terminology, asepsis and infection control, pharmacology, OSHA regulations, surgical knowledge and other career skills. Candidates can prepare using NCCT review materials, and must pay exam fees.
After passing the exam and becoming certified, the TS-C surgical tech certification must be renewed each year through continuing education, some of which is offered by the NCCT.
The National Healthcare Association (NHA) offers the Certified Operating Room and Surgical Technician (CORST) surgical tech certification. This certification shows a surgical technician’s expertise in areas relating to general medical and surgical knowledge.
Candidates for the CORST surgical tech certification must meet both of the following requirements:
The Certified Operating Room and Surgical Technician Examination
The CORST exam contains 200 questions and covers 101 knowledge areas relating to work as a surgical technician, surgical and anatomical knowledge, and general safety. Study materials are available through the NHA.
One benefit to gaining surgical technician certification is the fact that a national certification is a prestigious credential showing the holder meets rigorous surgical tech knowledge standards. Certified individuals can be safely assumed to understand a wide range of surgical procedures, aseptic techniques and patient care. Because surgical tech certification is optional, passing an exam demonstrates ambition and dedication that is respected by health care professionals of all types.
Surgical techs who are certified are also more competitive in the job market, as most facilities prefer to hire surgical techs who are certified. Certain states are even considering legislation that will make surgical tech certification a basic requirement for employment. Certified surgical techs also have a higher earning potential in the long run, and can demand a higher surgical tech salary.
For more information on surgical tech certification, visit the websites of the certifying organizations below: