Surgical Tech Certification Facts & Beliefs

Surgical Tech Certification, Do You REALLY need it?

It really is amazing how often I receive questions about certification for surgical techs.

And, in this brief newsletter, I'd like to quickly answer the top 5 questions I've gotten about surgical tech certification and then briefly express my beliefs about those questions.

Surgical Tech Certification - TOP 5 QUESTIONS


1) Should I get certified?


Due to the current economy, you need every bit of professional/academic accomplishment you can have to stand out among the crowd & add any type of "certificate of professionalism" to your resume.

My personal belief: Get certified as soon as you can. Certification may help open doors of opportunity and also assist you with moving up the surgical tech career ladder.

Overall, certification may make your professional surgical life more financially rewarding & enhance your career.

Read more facts & details about this answer here:


2) Does it matter which certification test I take?

Yes & No!

You see, there are currently two national certification exams & I'm not here to promote one certification over the other, rather I'm just laying down some facts  :)

That being said, one of the national surgical tech certifications is currently more recognized & has a more active "political & membership body" behind it, which; actively promotes their membership, is involved on state & national levels, and also generates huge amounts of annual revenue based on several factors.

The activity of this particular organization creates a sense of "power" in the surgical tech world which in turn helps to make the  certification exam they promote more renowned and accepted as "the norm".

Both of the certifying bodies have specific formal governed requirements in order to sit for their exam.

All in all, its a business on both sides and business is in business to generate income/profit.

My personal belief:  I personally feel that national certification is national certification no matter which national certification you obtain. But the reality is that one certification really is more recognized than the other. However, it is not uncommon for an employer to require a surgical tech to be nationally certified without actually specifying a particular national certification.

BUT, there are currently SOME states that require one certification over the other...

So what does all of this mean to future nationally certified surgical techs?

Well, do some research when getting involved with a surgical tech school to see which certification you can sit for & what is or may be required in the state where you plan to live/work.


3) Can I get certified if I never went to surgical tech school?


There are programs and options for "on-the-job" trained surgical techs.

My personal belief: It's a great option for OJT surgical techs to have, and something they may want to consider at some point in their career.


4) Does certification really make a difference?

Well, this partially depends on where you live, facility requirements, and your plans to take your surgical tech career to another level.

Certification does not mean that you are a "good" surgical tech!

Rather, certification simply indicates that you've met the requirements to take and pass a national certification exam.

My personal belief: Listen, I've been in this field for a very long time & I've worked with surgical techs on all levels. Some where certified, some went to a surgical tech program & were not certified, some were trained on the job, and some who just had no business being in surgery at all  :)

All of that being said, I've seen both sides of the coin, "formally" educated ST's, & on the job trained ST's, and it seems to me the biggest influencing factor about their skill levels was...EXPERIENCE!

As I mentioned, certification does not mean one is a "good" surgical tech. It does however indicate other attributes about your educational background in surgery. It's really been my experience that hands on surgical tech experience is what makes a good surgical tech.

But, all in all, certification can make a difference for future career ladder growth in the surgical tech world.


5) Can I work as a surgical tech traveler without being certified?

Yes & No

Again, this will really greatly depend on your experience level, facility requirements, & travel agency requirements.

My personal belief: If you plan to travel, get certified!

The competitive nature of the surgical tech travel world will ultimately go to the certified tech with experience over the uncertified tech with experience.

Now, I'm not saying that you cannot travel if you are not certified.  There are plenty of ST travelers working on contracts who are not certified.

What I'm saying is that an experienced traveling tech with certification will probably be more strongly considered than an uncertified surgical tech with the same experience.

If you plan to travel, do yourself a favor and get certified...


Well, that briefly sums up the top 5 questions out of thousands I've received regarding certification in surgical technology.

I've recently updated an entire page on surgical tech certification facts & made it public here:

Please feel free to comment or reply back to me with your thoughts &/or suggestions.

I love hearing from you!

Until Next Time~

Your friend,

Robert Prince, CST

Surgical Tech Success Handbook



Coach's tip - Doing the right thing is not always easy.  But it's always right.