Surgical Technologist

Surgical Technologist Job Description


Surgical technologists are important members of an operating room team. They work under the supervision and authority of the surgeon, unless hospital policy or state law prohibits this arrangement.

The surgical technologist works in the operating room with the circulating nurse, the anesthesiologist, and the surgeon.

If you are considering a job as a surgical tech, it's a good field to go into because it doesn't take a ton of education to become a surgical tech, they get paid a pretty decent entry-level salary, and they have a strong job-growth outlook.




The primary role fulfilled by the surgical technologists is the first scrub role which directly assists the surgeon and surgery team.

The first scrub role has more responsibilities than the second scrub role and can only be achieved if they prove they are competent with main assistant functions.

If they prove their proficiency in the first scrub role, they can be promoted to the first assistant role, but that usually comes with a bit more training and education as a first assistant provides direct, primary assistance to the primary surgeon.

Before an operation begins, they help prepare the operating room by performing the following duties:

  • Setting up the sterile surgical instruments
  • Preparing the equipment and supplies for the surgery, such as drapes, gowns, suction tubing, gloves, receiving solutions and obtaining medication from the circulating nurse
  • Check the sterile equipment for proper working order and make adjustments if needed

Surgical technologists assist the surgeon and team throughout the procedure. They begin their main duties when the surgeon is ready to put on the gown and gloves for surgery.

They assist wherever they are needed, if they have the proper credentials for the responsibilities. Their include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Placing sterile drapes on patient

  • Anticipating surgeon needs

  • Passing instruments and necessary supplies to surgery team

  • Performing counts on instruments before and after surgery

  • Providing solutions and medications to surgeon during procedure

  • Receiving tissue specimens and pass them to circulating nurse

  • Overseeing maintenance of sterile environments and techniques

  • Managing suction and sponges during operations

  • Cutting sutures

  • Manipulating endoscopic cameras 

The surgical technologist may fulfill the role of assistant circulator if this is a stipulation in state law or hospital policy.

When functioning in this role, a technologist assists in moving patients to the operating room, may be asked to help in properly positioning the patient on the operating table and will prepare the patient for surgery by shaving incision sites and disinfecting the surgical area.

As the procedure progresses, the surgical technologist may be responsible for obtaining additional supplies that are needed to complete the surgery. This can include sponges or sutures.

The surgical technologist may replace suction containers when full and provide sterile dressings at the end of the procedure. Once the surgery is complete, they may assist with moving the patient from the operating room table to a stretcher for transport to the recovery room.




Surgical techs must have a list of skills and capabilities since they work first hand with surgery teams and deal with stressful, high paced environments.

These are some of the most important skills surgical techs need to work in the field:

Stress Management

Operating Rooms are high stress, fast-paced environments, so surgical techs need to be able to work well under stress and handle emotionally intense situations. It's important to separate personal feelings from tragedy as those instances can build and create emotional instability.


This is an important skill since they are responsible for ensuring sterile environments and preparing equipment, along with working alongside surgeons to provide them instruments and supplies during a procedure.


Since they must move fast and hand instruments back and fourth, along with retrieving supplies, they must be agile and good with their hands. The demanding atmosphere of an OR requires dexterity.


They must be honest because they work with patients and have to ensure sterility of environments. If they lie about parts of their job, they could risk infection or death for their patients.


Surgery techs work for long hours and are standing for most of them. It's important to be in good physical condition so you can move around and withstand the demand on your body.

Operation Monitoring

Must be able to endure intense situations and handle pressure that comes with extreme situations you may encounter.


Working Conditions


Surgical technologist work in a clean, cool, and well-lit environment when not in the operating room. In the operating room, it can quickly warm up under the bright surgical lights, especially when wearing the sterile gown and gloves.

Like all members of the surgical team, the technologist must stand for long periods and remain alert during operative procedures. They may be exposed to communicable diseases and unpleasant odors, sights, and fluids. 

As part of the surgical team, they may be required to take emergency on-call duty, which cuts into their personal time and eliminates weekends and holidays and demands late nights and early mornings.

If an emergency arises, such as a car accident or a pregnant woman requiring a Cesarean section, the on-call team members must report in immediately, regardless of the time of day or night, or what they may be doing at the time. 




Salary Outlook