How Do You Become Certified as a Surgical Tech?

Many graduates of surgical technologist programs go on to become nationally certified by taking a certification exam administered by either the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA, formerly the Liaison Council on Certification for the Surgical Technologist) or the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT).

The NBSTSA awards the designation Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) to students who graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and pass a certification exam. The NCCT meanwhile awards the designation Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C) to those who pass a certification exam and either complete an accredited training program, have two years of on-the-job training or have seven years of experience working in the field.

Being designated either a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) by the NBSTSA or a Tech in Surgery-Certified (TS-C) by the NCCT is prestigious, as the designations can prove valuable during a job search. Although both certifications are voluntary, most employers prefer to hire certified technologists. Certification is a “stamp of approval” for yourself, ensuring potential employers that you are competent and possess the set of skills, knowledge and experience necessary to work as a professional surgical technologist.

Both the NBSTSA and NCCT exams are national tests, meaning that a technologist who passes is certified to work in any state. Additionally, both certifications have ongoing education and renewal requirements (the CST must be renewed every four years and the TS-C every five years), ensuring that certified technologists will continue to be competent and aware of modern developments and trends in the industry.