How to Become a Surgical Tech in Pennsylvania

How to Become a Surgical Tech in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the surgical team in the operating room is always prepared to respond, especially in emergency situations.

The team consists of various professionals, including:

  • Surgeons
  • Anesthesia specialist
  • Surgical nurse
  • Surgical technician

Their collaborative efforts begin prior to the commencement of surgery and continue after the surgical procedure concludes.

The last professionals in the list above are also known by other names, such as operating room (OR) techs and scrub techs.

Job Description and Responsibilities of a Surgical Technologist

Surgical technologists in Pennsylvania have a diverse range of responsibilities during their shifts, which may include:

  • Preparing patients for surgery
  • Transporting patients to and from the OR
  • Preparing the OR with surgical equipment and supplies
  • Monitoring the instrument count throughout surgery
  • Handing the surgeon medical instruments
  • Closing wounds and bandaging patients

It’s important to note that this list represents only a portion of the duties of a medical professional in this field.

Training and Education for Surgical Technologists in Pennsylvania

Surgical technologists in Pennsylvania are primarily governed by their employing institutions rather than a centralized authority.

However, the path to becoming a surgical technologist is not without its challenges.

Here’s an overview of the educational and training process!

The journey toward becoming a surgical technologist in Pennsylvania typically starts with a high school diploma or GED.

Aspiring surgical technologists should enroll in a specialized training program designed for this occupation.

This program usually combines classroom education with clinical training.

While different institutions may have slightly varying requirements, common course subjects include:

  • Microbiology,
  • Pathophysiology,
  • Pharmacology,
  • Anatomy,
  • Physiology,
  • Medical terminology

Certification in CPR, BLS, or AED may also be necessary.

Several institutions in Pennsylvania offer such training programs.

Prospective students may need to meet specific prerequisites, such as:

  • Holding a high school diploma or GED
  • Passing placement exams
  • Fulfilling health insurance requirements
  • Considering factors like prior medical-related experience and military service.

Completing a minimum number of clinical cases, including those in general surgery and first scrub roles, is also typically required.

Standardized test scores, such as the ACT or Accuplacer, may be part of the admission criteria.

The training program typically consists of a set number of course credits that students must complete.

Here are some training programs that students in Pennsylvania have access to.

Bevill State Community College

This institution offers a program covering topics like:

  • Sterile processing,
  • Infection control
  • Sterilization,
  • Instrumentation identification,
  • Safety protocols

It’s important to meet specific prerequisites to study here, such as:

  • Holding a high school diploma or GED
  • Passing the Accuplacer placement exam
  • Having prior medical-related experience.

The program includes clinical cases and has a total of 29 credits.

Great Lakes Institute of Technology

It provides an Associate of Specialized Technology degree in surgical technology, a program that can be successfully finished in a brief 17-month duration.

The curriculum integrates an externship experience at a hospital or ambulatory center.

For off-campus students, the tuition amounts to $15,200, and the cost of books and supplies adds an extra $3,415.

Lackawanna College

It offers an associate degree program in surgical technology, which spans approximately two years to completion.

The curriculum accommodates both day and evening courses, along with Saturday classes, clinical lab hours, and summer sessions.

The total cost for this program currently stands at around $35,000.

Montgomery County Community College

It provides a unique opportunity for students to complete their associate degree program in surgical technology within a condensed 16-month period.

This program operates year-round and admits a limited number of just 12 students annually.

The tuition for this program is approximately $9,000 per year.

School Name Address
Montgomery County Community College 340 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422
Bevill State Community College online
Great Lakes Institute of Technology 5100 Peach St, Erie, PA 16509
Lackawanna College 501 Vine St, Scranton, PA 18509

Certification for Surgical Technologists in Pennsylvania

Although certification is not legally mandated, many employers in Pennsylvania prefer to hire certified surgical technologists.

Several certifying bodies provide relevant certifications, including:

  • National Surgical Assistant Association (NSAA)
    • Provides the Certified Surgical Assistant (CSA) qualification
  • National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA)
    • Provides the Certified Surgical Technologist/Certified First Assistant credential
  • National Center for Competency Training (NCCT)
    • Provides the Tech in Surgery Certification

Among these, the NBSTSA certification is highly regarded and nationally recognized.

The certification exam typically consists of 200 questions, with a passing requirement of answering a minimum of 119 questions correctly.

To take the exam, an associated fee must be paid, with different fees for members and non-members of the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST).

Certification renewal is required every four years and can be achieved through retaking the certification exam along with the associated fees.

There’s another option that involves completing continuing education credits (60 during the renewal period) along with a renewal fee payment.

Surgical Technologist Salary in Pennsylvania

While the role of a surgical technologist may not be the most glamorous, it’s essential to consider the potential income associated with this profession.

In Pennsylvania, an OR tech can earn an average annual salary of approximately $51,300.

The following table illustrates the cities within Pennsylvania where surgical technologists earn higher salaries compared to the rest of the state:

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Washington Crossing $56,100
Warminster $56,000
Warrington $55,200
Woodlyn $54,600
Abington $54,500
Willow Grove $54,500
Souderton $54,300
Telford $54,300
Zieglerville $53,300
Stroudsburg $52,800

Regional Salary in Pennsylvania

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Altoona, PA60$43,390$20.86$48,790$26,750
Erie, PA90$45,640$21.94$55,890$37,740
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA250$53,740$25.84$60,440$46,240
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD1,760$57,310$27.56$71,280$47,350
Pittsburgh, PA780$51,700$24.86$64,160$42,190
Reading, PA90$52,560$25.27$58,400$46,230
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA220$47,720$22.94$57,620$44,990
Williamsport, PA70$54,270$26.09$77,120$45,590
York-Hanover, PA150$53,200$25.58$66,290$45,120
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Surgical Technologists, OCC Code 29-2055, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a Surgical Tech From Pennsylvania Choose a Specialty?


Just like surgeons can choose to operate on a specific body part, so can these techs.

Here are the most commonly chosen surgery niches:

  • General surgery,
  • Ob/gyn,
  • Urology,
  • Plastics,
  • Neurology

Where Do Surgical Technologists from Pennsylvania Find Work?

These technologists usually work in a hospital’s surgery wing.

Furthermore, these other places also hire such specialists:

  • Children’s hospitals
  • Cosmetic surgery centers
  • Specialty clinics for surgical procedures

What Skills Do I Need To Work As A Surgical Tech in Pennsylvania?

Here are the most important skills this profession requires:

  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Detail-oriented
  • Take direction
  • Understanding medical terms
  • Understanding medical methodology
  • Good communication skills

USA Surgical Tech Programs by State

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