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Surgical Technologist Certification

Surgical Technologist Certification

There is a voluntary national certification for surgical technologists offered through The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). This organization is responsible for all aspects of the national certification exam including the policies and development of the exams. Although this exam is not required in order to practice as a surgical technologist in most

What does the CST exam entail and who is eligible to take the exam?

The Certified Surgical Technologist exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions of which 175 are scored and test takers are given four hours to complete it. To pass the exam, the test taker must correctly answer 119 questions. There is a 75% pass rate on this exam. The individual must be a graduate of an accredited surgical technology program to be eligible to take the certification exam. The exam costs between $190 and $290 depending on whether you are a student or first time test taker and whether you are a member of the Association of Surgical Technologists.

Do surgical technologists have to obtain a state license in order to practice?

Currently there are no state licenses for this profession, only the national CST certification as mentioned previously.

What professional organizations exist for surgical technologists?

The Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) is a national membership association for surgical technologists and surgical first assistants, which is separate from the national board certification company (NBSTSA) the exam is offered through.

How many continuing education units are required to maintain a national certification?

If the person chooses to renew the CST credential through continuing education, he/she must earn sixty continuing education credits over a four-year certification cycle. A person can opt to retake the national certification exam every four years rather than earning continuing education requirements, but this involves paying all the testing fees. The majority of people in this profession renew the credential by completing continuing education credits.

Learn more about surgical technologist salary.

First Assistant Certification

The most direct route to becoming a Certified First Assistant (CFA) is attending a year long accredited surgical first assistant program. There are currently ten accredited surgical first assistant programs in the country. While this seems like a small number, only two to three years ago there were fewer than one third as many schools offering surgical assistant programs. So the number of accredited programs is growing. In order to be eligible to take the CFA exam, there are two options:

  • Option 1: Graduating from an accredited surgical first assistant program, which includes completing a clinical rotation.
  • Option 2: The clinical training option involves completing 350 cases working as a surgical first assistant as well as two years during the last four years of fulltime work experience in the field with two surgeons or surgical supervisors signing the notarized experience verification forms.


The CFA should have the knowledge level of a first year pre-med student. He/she should be knowledgeable in areas such as: anatomy and physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, histology, how to properly handle tissue, and wound closures just to name a few.

Surgical Technologist Schools

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            Surgical Technology - Associate's
            • Named a Best for Vets school by the Military Times in 2014.
            • Has specialized in student-centered technology, business, criminal justice, health science, and culinary education for over 45 years.
            • Makes it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in 2.5 years or an associate’s in 1.5 years by providing a year-round schedule.
            • Offers externships and clinical experience that help students prepare for life after they graduate.
            • Has 10 campuses across the mid-Atlantic, plus online degree programs.
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Surgical Technology
            • A leader in promoting career-focused education since 1959.
            • Its core programs include massage therapy, dental assistant training, health claims specialist, and medical assistant programs.
            • Provides students with one-on-one education support.
            • Requires students to complete an externship where they gain real-world skills and experience.
            • Makes refresher sessions available in courses students have previously taken, at no additional cost.
            • Offers career consultations to graduates.
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            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            CERT Surgical Technology
            South College , Asheville

            At South College we welcome students from all different stages of life and career.  Whether you are pursing a degree for the first time, going back to school as an adult learner, or furthering your career with an advanced degree, our faculty and staff will partner with you to give your dreams direction.

            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Surgical Technology
            North-West College , West Covina
            • Features the Success Education Program, with numerous scholarship opportunities to students who qualify.
            • Offers a paralegal program and several healthcare programs including pharmacy technology, medical assisting, massage therapy, and diagnostic medical sonography.
            • Provides an active Placement Assistance Program for all qualified gradutes.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • 7 southern California campuses available in West Covina, Pomona, Pasadena, Glendale, Riverside, Santa Ana, and Long Beach.
            • Part of the Success Education Colleges (SEC) group.
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            Sterile Processing Technician

            Fortis Institute can give you the skills you need to train for a career in the healthcare field.

            * Programs vary by location

            * Please contact each individual campus for accreditation information

            Please call on  844-252-4552 to talk to a respresentative.

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