Surgical Technician Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Surgical Technician, or Surgery Technician, is responsible for assisting with surgical procedures in an operating room. Their duties include gathering and organizing all surgical tools needed for a procedure, monitoring a patient’s vital signs throughout surgical procedures or assisting surgical teams by handing them tools and re-sterilizing the operating room post-surgery.

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Surgical Technician duties and responsibilities 

A Surgical Technician may perform any of the following duties with the goal of preparing the room and the patient for the surgical procedure:

  • Setting up the instruments and equipment that is required for the procedure
  • Sterilizing equipment and taking an inventory to ensure there are enough supplies for surgery
  • Preparing the patient for surgery
  • Passing the Surgeon instruments and sterile supplies throughout the operation
  • Taking a count of all surgical instruments and supplies prior to the operation 
  • Recounting surgical instruments and supplies at the end of the operation
  • Maintaining an overall sterile environment throughout the surgery
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What does a Surgical Technician do? 

Surgical Technicians typically work for hospitals or healthcare clinics to assist with various types of surgical procedures. They work closely with Nurses and other Surgical Technicians to communicate with patients before and after surgery and ensure their health throughout procedures. Their job is to provide support to surgical teams with whatever they need and notify Surgeons if a patient’s condition begins to deteriorate. They may also be responsible for assisting surgical teams by taking tissue samples and other specimens during surgery for further analysis.

Surgical Technician skills and qualifications 

Aside from the necessary education and training, here are some examples of good qualities to possess as a Surgical Technician:

  • Surgical Technicians require the ability to use their hands quickly and with precision. 
  • The ideal candidate must be an honest and ethical person in order to work in this position based on trust. 
  • Keeping operating rooms sterile requires a keen attention to detail.
  • Surgical Technicians need communication skills to adequately relay any and all relevant patient details to all members of the surgical team.
  • An effective Surgical Technician must have good listening skills in order to comprehend and quickly respond to the needs of the surgical team during a procedure. 
  • A good memory is necessary in order to avoid the repetition of lengthy explanations for tasks that need to be completed. 
  • A Surgical Technician will need physical endurance to stand for long periods of time. 
  • A successful Surgical Technician must be comfortable working under pressure.

Surgical Technician salary expectations 

A Surgical Technician makes $29.90 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Surgical Technician education and training requirements 

In order to become a Surgical Technician, candidates generally must possess either a certificate or an associate degree from an accredited surgical technology program. A certificate program typically takes one year, while a diploma generally takes around two years to complete. Generally, courses such as physiology, anatomy and microbiology will be required along with techniques for keeping the operating room sterile, introductions to surgical equipment and practical supervised experience.

Surgical Technician experience requirements 

There are generally few experience requirements for a Surgical Technician. However, this requirement varies depending on the needs of the employer. Surgical Technicians will often receive on-the-job training once they are hired. This can supplement the knowledge already gained from their formal education and increases their capacity to excel in their career or move on to specific areas of medicine.

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Frequently asked questions about Surgical Technician


What is the difference between a Surgical Technician and a Surgical Assistant?

The difference between a Surgical Technician and a Surgical Assistant is their level of education and subsequent job responsibilities. For example, Surgical Technicians usually have a high school diploma followed by on-site job training in a hospital or clinical setting. In contrast, Surgical Assistants typically need to earn an associate’s degree in nursing or surgical technology, followed by a few years of experience working in the OR. Because Surgical Assistants have additional education and work experience, they usually have a more hands-on role in the operating room.

Surgical Assistants help Surgeons primarily during surgery by inserting tubes, maintaining hematosis and participating in completing the actual procedure. In contrast, Surgical Technicians have more responsibilities before surgery by organizing and prepping the operating room or handing the surgical team tools during surgery.


What are the daily duties of a Surgical Technician?

On a typical day, a Surgical Technician starts by receiving their procedure schedule. Before each operation, they gather materials from the supply room, put on necessary gowns or other sanitary items and prepare the operating room for surgery. During each surgery, they hand tools to members of the surgical team, monitor a patient’s vital signs and assist the team in reposition a patient depending on their needs. After the patient goes to recovery, Surgical Technicians work with other staff, the clean and re-sterilize the operating room. 

They also take the time at the end of each shift to take inventory of supplies and communicate with medical administrators to place orders.


What qualities make a good Surgical Technician?

A good Surgical Technician has excellent verbal communication, enabling them to notify surgical teams of troubling vital signs during surgery. It also allows them to speak with patients before surgery in a way that reassures them and gives them clarity about their procedure. They value continued education and continually look for ways to advance their knowledge of surgical procedures and tools. Further, a good Surgical Technician is very attentive and focused, which allows them to respond quickly to requests during surgery for tools or patient information.


Who does a Surgical Technician report to?

A Surgical Technician usually reports to an OR Nurse before, during and after surgical procedures. These individuals provide Surgical Technicians with specific tasks to complete like checking on supply inventories and preparing patients for surgery. However, during surgical procedures, Surgical Technicians may also report directly to the Surgeon leading the procedure. At any point during the procedure, Surgeons may ask Surgical Technicians to hand them tools, place pressure on certain areas using gauze or hold open crevices to repair tissue or other anatomical parts.

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