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Surgical Technologists - What They Do


How to Advance (Advancement)
Technologists advance by specializing in a particular area of surgery, such as neurosurgery or open-heart surgery. They also may work as circulating technologists. With additional training, some technologists advance to first assistant. Some surgical technologists manage central supply departments in hospitals or take positions with insurance companies, sterile supply services, and operating equipment firms.

Employment
Surgical technologists held about 91,500 jobs in 2008. About 71 percent of jobs for surgical technologists were in hospitals, mainly in operating and delivery rooms. Other jobs were in offices of physicians or dentists who perform outpatient surgery and in outpatient care centers, including ambulatory surgical centers. A few technologists, known as private scrubs, are employed directly by surgeons who have special surgical teams, such as those for liver transplants.

Job Outlook
Employment is expected to grow much faster than average. Job opportunities will be best for technologists who are certified and for those who are willing to relocate.

Job Growth
Employment of surgical technologists is expected to grow 25 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations, as the volume of surgeries increases. The number of surgical procedures is expected to continue to rise as the population grows and ages. Older people, including the baby-boom generation, which generally requires more surgical procedures, will continue to account for a larger portion of the U.S. population. In addition, technological advances, such as fiber optics and laser technology, have permitted an increasing number of new surgical procedures to be performed and also have allowed surgical technologists to assist with a greater number of procedures.

Hospitals will continue to be the primary employer of surgical technologists, as they try to reduce costs by replacing nurses in the operating room. However, because of better paying opportunities, much faster employment growth is expected in offices of physicians and in outpatient care centers, including ambulatory surgical centers.

Job opportunities will be best for technologists who are certified and for those who are willing to relocate.

Earnings
Median annual wages of wage-and-salary surgical technologists were $38,740 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $32,490 and $46,910. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,510, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $54,300.

Wages of surgical technologists vary with their experience and education, the responsibilities of the position, the working hours, and the economy of a given region of the country. Benefits provided by most employers include paid vacation and sick leave; health, medical, vision, dental, and life insurance; and a retirement program. A few employers also provide tuition reimbursement and child care benefits.

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