Along with creating an organized and sterile environment that makes surgical operations possible, surgical technologists also work closely with doctors and other surgical team members by gathering and arranging equipment and surgical tools needed for the procedure.
And like most professions in healthcare, certification, and licensure are key factors anyone looking to pursue a career in the field must consider. Also, like most professions in the medical world, there are quite a few alternatives to consider in this case.
To make the decision much more straightforward, below is an in-depth guide on everything you need to know about certification and licensure for a surgical technologist.
Reasons to Get Certified
Surgical technologists, and many allied healthcare professionals, often get certified for several reasons, all of which are equally important. So, in most cases, even when only one of the reasons below applies, it is still advisable to get certified.
- State Mandate - Some states require surgical technologists to get certified before they are allowed to work in any medical establishment. It should be said, however, that not all states have these requirements. The majority don’t.
- Employment Opportunity - Employees hire surgical technologists with certification over those without. Certificate shows dedication, which employers are always on the lookout for.
- Display of Growth and Expertise - Along with dedication, certification also shows expertise. Additionally, thanks to renewal requirements that mandate continuing education, certified surgical technologists can keep growing and learning about their profession’s improvements.
Surgical Technologist Certification Prerequisites & Steps
So, as we’ve seen above, there are more than enough incentives for a surgical technologist to get certified. How exactly do they go about it, though? Well, certification requirements and steps to be taken differ depending on the certification body.
Generally, however, a surgical technologist is expected to fulfill the following requirements and go through these steps before they can sit for a certification examination:
- Graduate from an Accredited Program - The first step to getting certified is to ensure CAAHEP or another respected accreditation body accredits your graduating program. Finding a worthwhile certification exam to sit for without this prerequisite may be challenging.
- Apply for Certification with their Preferred Organization - Once you meet the program prerequisite, you may apply for a certification exam with your organization of choice. We have listed some of the best and most accepted certification bodies below, along with their unique requirements and application steps.
- Pass the Exam - Lastly, once enrolled, candidates must sit and pass their certification examination before they can be considered certified surgical technologists.
Surgical Technologist Certification Alternatives
There are a handful of alternatives to consider regarding the certification body and type of certification you’d like to get as a surgical technologist. Below are some of the popular and most prestigious of these options.
CST Certification - Certified Surgical Technologist
The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) administers the Certified Surgical Technologist certification. It is the most popular and prestigious certification a surgical technologist can have.
It aims to certify that a surgical technologist possesses a high level of expertise in pre-operative, intra-operative, and post-operative care, along with other vital skills and medical knowledge.
To be eligible to sit for the Certified Surgical Technologist exam, a candidate must fulfill one of the following conditions:
- Graduated from a CAAHEP-accredited surgical technology program.
- Graduated from a military surgical technology program (also accredited by CAAHEP).
- Already possess a Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C) certification.
The CST certification exam tests candidates in three major areas: pre-operative care, basic science, and additional studies. Candidates must contact the NBSTSA through the official website to prepare and schedule the exam.
Examination fees are expected to be paid through the same portal. Candidates can take the exam during the last month of their training or within a year of graduation.
Continuing education is mandatory.
To maintain their CST designation, a surgical technologist must renew their certified status every five years.
TSC Certification - Tech in Surgery-Certified
The National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT) administers the Tech in Surgery-Certified designation. It aims to certify that a surgical technologist possesses a high level of expertise in major surgical technology skill areas, safety regulations, and general science/medical topics.
To be eligible to sit for the Tech in Surgery-Certified exam, a candidate must fulfill one of the following conditions:
- Graduated from an NCCT-accredited surgical technology program within the last ten years. Must also possess relevant work experience.
- Graduated from a non-NCCT-accredited surgical program within the last two years. Must also possess at least one year of work experience.
- A surgical technologist with seven years of qualifying experience in the past ten years.
- MDs, LVNs, LPNs, and RNs with experience in surgical technology.
The TS-C certification exam focus topics include pharmacology, OSHA regulation, medical terminology, asepsis and infection control, surgical knowledge, and related career skills.
The organization provides review materials for candidates to prepare for the exam. Renewal is done every year through continuing education.
CORST Certification - Certified Operating Room and Surgical Technician
The Certified Operating Room and Surgical Technician certification is administered by the National Healthcare Association (NHA). It aims to show that a surgical technologist possesses the necessary general medical and surgical knowledge skills.
To be eligible to sit for the CORST certification exam, a candidate must fulfill all of the following conditions:
- Graduated from high school.
- Graduated from a surgical technology program or one year of work experience as a surgical technologist.
Candidates taking the CORST exam will be expected to answer 200 questions, with 101 dealing with surgical technology-related areas such as surgical and anatomical knowledge. The remaining 99 deal with general safety and general medical regions.