Assist in operations, under the supervision of surgeons, registered nurses, or other surgical personnel. May help set up operating room, prepare and transport patients for surgery, adjust lights and equipment, pass instruments and other supplies to surgeons and surgeons’ assistants, hold retractors, cut sutures, and help count sponges, needles, supplies, and instruments.
Sample of reported job titles: Certified Surgical Technician, Certified Surgical Technologist (CST), Operating Room Surgical Technician (OR St), Operating Room Technician (OR Tech), Operating Room Technologist (OR Tech), Surgical Scrub Technician, Surgical Scrub Technologist (Surgical Scrub Tech), Surgical Technician, Surgical Technologist (Surgical Tech)
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Maintain a proper sterile field during surgical procedures.
- Count sponges, needles, and instruments before and after operation.
- Scrub arms and hands and assist the surgical team to scrub and put on gloves, masks, and surgical clothing.
- Provide technical assistance to surgeons, surgical nurses, or anesthesiologists.
- Prepare patients for surgery, including positioning patients on the operating table and covering them with sterile surgical drapes to prevent exposure.
- Hand instruments and supplies to surgeons and surgeons’ assistants, hold retractors and cut sutures, and perform other tasks as directed by surgeon during operation.
- Prepare, care for, and dispose of tissue specimens taken for laboratory analysis.
- Wash and sterilize equipment, using germicides and sterilizers.
- Monitor and continually assess operating room conditions, including patient and surgical team needs.
- Operate, assemble, adjust, or monitor sterilizers, lights, suction machines, or diagnostic equipment to ensure proper operation.
- Prepare dressings or bandages and apply or assist with their application following surgery.
- Clean and restock operating room, gathering and placing equipment and supplies and arranging instruments according to instructions, such as a preference card.
- Order surgical supplies.
- Observe patients’ vital signs to assess physical condition.
- Maintain supply of fluids, such as plasma, saline, blood, or glucose, for use during operations.
- Maintain files and records of surgical procedures.
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- Cloud-based data access and sharing software — Google Drive
- Data base user interface and query software — Database software
- Electronic mail software — Email software
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Graphics software
- Internet browser software
- Medical software — Electronic medical record EMR software; MEDITECH software ; Patient tracking software; Surgery workflow communication software (see all 7 examples)
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Operating system software — Microsoft Windows
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
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- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Operations Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Management of Material Resources — Obtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.
- Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
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- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
- Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
- Trunk Strength — The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without “giving out” or fatiguing.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
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- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Maintain sterile operative fields.
- Maintain inventory of medical supplies or equipment.
- Assist healthcare practitioners during surgery.
- Position patients for treatment or examination.
- Protect patients or staff members using safety equipment.
- Clean medical equipment or facilities.
- Prepare biological specimens for laboratory analysis.
- Sterilize medical equipment or instruments.
- Adjust settings or positions of medical equipment.
- Apply bandages, dressings, or splints.
- Operate diagnostic or therapeutic medical instruments or equipment.
- Order medical supplies or equipment.
- Monitor patient conditions during treatments, procedures, or activities.
- Record patient medical histories.
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- Physical Proximity — 95% responded “Very close (near touching).”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 87% responded “Extremely important.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 87% responded “Extremely important.”
- Contact With Others — 81% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 82% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 75% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 88% responded “Every day.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 79% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 67% responded “Every day.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 76% responded “Very important results.”
- Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 63% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Consequence of Error — 74% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Exposed to Disease or Infections — 67% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Standing — 59% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 72% responded “Every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 42% responded “Some freedom.”
- Deal With External Customers — 47% responded “Extremely important.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 54% responded “Extremely important.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 50% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 46% responded “Very important.”
- Telephone — 56% responded “Every day.”
- Time Pressure — 52% responded “Every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 65% responded “Some freedom.”
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 39% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Wear Specialized Protective or Safety Equipment such as Breathing Apparatus, Safety Harness, Full Protection Suits, or Radiation Protection — 42% responded “Every day.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 51% responded “Every day.”
- Level of Competition — 33% responded “Highly competitive.”
- Spend Time Walking and Running — 39% responded “Less than half the time.”
- Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 37% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Electronic Mail — 32% responded “Every day.”
- Cramped Work Space, Awkward Positions — 28% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body — 45% responded “Less than half the time.”
- Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — 44% responded “Every day.”
- Frequency of Conflict Situations — 35% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
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|Title||Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate’s degree.|
|Related Experience||Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include hydroelectric production managers, travel guides, electricians, agricultural technicians, barbers, court reporters, and medical assistants.|
|SVP Range||(6.0 to < 7.0)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|23||Some college, no degree|
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Interest code: RSC Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
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- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
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- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$23.90 hourly, $49,710 annual|
|Employment (2020)||109,700 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Average (5% to 10%)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||9,000|
|Top industries (2020)||
Health Care and Social Assistance
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO
- Association of periOperative Registered Nurses
- Association of Surgical Technologists
- Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
- International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management
- National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting
- National Center for Competency Testing
- National Surgical Assistant Association
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Surgical technologists
- Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates
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