Most employers prefer to hire a certified surgical technician. Surgical technician certification may be voluntarily obtained from the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist by graduating from a CAAHEP-accredited program and passing a national certification examination. They may then use the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) designation.
In order to maintain certification, certified surgical technologists must earn 60 hours of approved continuing education over a 4-year period or retake and pass the certifying exam at the end of the 4-year period. Surgical technician certification also may be obtained from the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). To qualify to take the surgical technician certification exam, candidates follow one of three paths: complete an accredited training program, undergo a 2-year hospital on-the-job training program, or acquire 7 years of experience working in the field. After passing the exam, individuals may use the designation Tech in Surgery-Certified, TS-C (NCCT). This certification must be renewed every 5 years through either continuing education or reexamination.
With additional education and training, some surgical technicians function in the role of surgical first assistant. Surgical technician programs are inspected by the Accreditation Review Committee on Education in Surgical Technology—a collaborative effort of the Association of Surgical Technologists and the American College of Surgeons, under the auspices of the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
Accredited programs provide both instructive education and supervised clinical experience based on a core curriculum for surgical technology. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, the National Commission for the Certification of Surgical Assistants, and the American Board of Surgical Assistants offer certification for surgical first assistants.