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Top 11 Certified Surgical Technologist Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications for surgical technologists, including requirements and benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 17 min read

Certifications are important for a certified surgical technologist in the job market because they demonstrate to potential employers that the individual has achieved a certain level of proficiency and knowledge in their field. Employers want to hire individuals who have demonstrated that they have the skills and qualifications necessary to carry out their duties effectively and safely, so certifications provide assurance that a certified surgical technologist is capable of doing so. Furthermore, certifications can open up new opportunities for advancement in the workplace as well as increase earning potential.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of popular certifications for Certified Surgical Technologists, and how they can enhance a surgical technologist's career.

What are Certified Surgical Technologist Certifications?

Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) certification is a credential that recognizes the skills and knowledge of those who work in the field of surgical technology. The certification is awarded by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). To become certified, individuals must meet certain educational, experience and testing requirements.

The CST certification is designed to validate an individual’s expertise in the field of surgical technology. By becoming certified, individuals demonstrate their commitment to the profession and their ability to perform at a high level. This can help them stand out from other candidates when applying for positions in this field. Hospitals, medical centers and other employers may also prefer to hire certified individuals because they know that these applicants have met rigorous standards for knowledge and skill.

In addition to providing recognition for individual professionals, the CST certification also helps to ensure a standard level of quality among all practitioners in this field. This ensures that patients receive safe and effective care from qualified professionals. With this credential, employers can be certain that they are hiring qualified personnel who have demonstrated proficiency in their area of expertise.

Pro Tip: When considering certification as a Certified Surgical Technologist, be sure to research the requirements of the certifying organization. Many certifying organizations require continuing education in order to maintain certification, so it is important to make sure you understand what is required in order to remain certified.

Related: What does a Certified Surgical Technologist do?

Top 11 Certified Surgical Technologist Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Certified Surgical Technologists today.

1. Certified Surgical Technologist (CST)

A Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) is a healthcare professional who works as part of the surgical team to ensure that the operating room is prepared and maintained for each surgery. The CST works closely with the surgeon, nurses, and other members of the surgical team to provide assistance during surgeries. They are responsible for setting up and organizing equipment and supplies, preparing patients for surgery, passing instruments to the surgeon during procedures, and helping to maintain a sterile environment in the operating room.

To become a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST), one must complete an accredited educational program in surgical technology. These programs typically take between nine months and two years to complete and include both classroom instruction and clinical experience. After completing an accredited program, individuals must pass the National Board of Surgical Technology & Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) exam in order to become certified.

The cost of becoming a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) varies depending on factors such as tuition costs at the school or program chosen, books, supplies, fees associated with taking the NBSTSA exam, etc. Generally speaking however, it can cost anywhere from $3,000-$20,000 or more depending on these factors.

2. Certified First Assistant (CFSA)

Certified First Assistant (CFSA) is a certification program designed to recognize the specialized skills and knowledge of first assistants in the operating room. A CFSA is a member of the surgical team who assists the surgeon in performing surgical procedures. The CFSA provides direct patient care, assists with positioning and draping of patients, anticipates the needs of the surgeon, and helps maintain a safe environment for all members of the surgical team.

The CFSA certification program is offered by the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST). To become certified, applicants must have completed an accredited educational program in surgical technology or a related field, have at least two years of full-time experience as a first assistant in an operating room setting within the last five years, and pass an examination administered by AST.

The cost for taking the exam is $200 for AST members and $300 for nonmembers. It typically takes about three months to receive your results after taking the exam.

3. Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA)

Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) is a certification for medical professionals who assist surgeons during surgical procedures. CSFAs are trained to provide assistance in the operating room, including setting up the operating room, preparing instruments and supplies, positioning patients, retracting tissue and organs during surgery, suturing incisions, and closing wounds.

It typically takes a minimum of one year of experience as a first assistant in the operating room before an individual can apply to become a Certified Surgical First Assistant. This experience must be verified by the applicant’s employer or supervisor. After this requirement is met, applicants must then take and pass the CSFA exam administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

The cost to take the CSFA exam is $250.00 USD. Additionally, there may be additional costs associated with obtaining necessary documents such as transcripts or letters of recommendation from employers or supervisors.

4. Certified Operating Room Technician (CORT)

Certified Operating Room Technician (CORT) is a professional certification that recognizes the advanced knowledge and skills of operating room technicians. CORT certification demonstrates a technician’s commitment to providing safe, quality patient care in the operating room.

To become certified as an Operating Room Technician, applicants must complete a formal training program in surgical technology or have at least two years of experience in the field. Applicants must also pass a written examination administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

The NBSTSA offers two levels of certification: Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) and Certified Operating Room Technician (CORT). The CST exam is more comprehensive than the CORT exam, but both exams cover topics such as anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, infection control, surgical procedures and instrumentation.

The cost for taking the CORT exam varies depending on whether you are taking it for the first time or retaking it. For first-time applicants, the fee is $250; for those retaking the exam, the fee is $150. In addition to this fee, there may be additional costs associated with taking a preparatory course or purchasing study materials.

It typically takes one to two months to prepare for and take the CORT exam. After passing the exam, applicants will receive their official certification from NBSTSA within four weeks.

5. Certified Central Service Technician (CCST)

Certified Central Service Technician (CCST) is a certification program that is designed to recognize individuals who have achieved a level of competency in the field of central service and sterile processing. This certification is awarded by the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM).

To become certified, candidates must meet certain eligibility requirements, including having at least two years of full-time experience in the field within the past five years or completion of an IAHCSMM-approved training program. Candidates must also pass a written examination that covers topics such as decontamination, sterilization, quality assurance, and inventory management.

The exam takes approximately three hours to complete and consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. The cost for taking the exam is $195 for IAHCSMM members and $245 for non-members. Once certified, CCSTs must renew their credentials every three years by completing continuing education activities and paying a renewal fee.

6. Certified Sterile Processing Technician (CSPT)

Certified Sterile Processing Technician (CSPT) is a professional certification that recognizes the knowledge and expertise of individuals who work in sterile processing departments. These technicians are responsible for ensuring that medical instruments, supplies and equipment used in healthcare facilities are properly cleaned, sterilized, stored, and distributed. The CSPT certification is offered by the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM).

To become a Certified Sterile Processing Technician (CSPT), one must have at least two years of full-time experience working in a sterile processing department within the past five years. Additionally, applicants must have completed an accredited educational program or have obtained a minimum of 12 hours of continuing education credits related to sterile processing topics within the past three years.

The CSPT exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as cleaning/disinfection/sterilization processes, instrumentation principles, infection control principles, quality assurance/quality control principles, safety principles and regulations related to sterile processing departments. The exam takes approximately four hours to complete and costs $200 USD.

Once you pass the exam you will receive your CSPT certification which is valid for three years from the date it was issued. To maintain your certification you must complete at least 30 continuing education credits every three years.

7. Certified Endoscopy Technician (CET)

A Certified Endoscopy Technician (CET) is a professional who has been trained and certified to assist physicians in performing endoscopic procedures. Endoscopy is a medical procedure that involves the insertion of an instrument called an endoscope into the body to view internal organs or tissue. The technician's job is to ensure that the equipment is set up correctly, monitor the patient during the procedure, and provide assistance as needed.

It typically takes between one and two years of on-the-job experience or formal education in endoscopy technology to become a Certified Endoscopy Technician. In addition, most states require certification from either the National Board for Certification of Endoscopy Technicians (NBCET) or from another recognized certifying organization such as the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE).

To get certified, applicants must pass both a written exam and a practical skills assessment. The written exam tests knowledge of anatomy, physiology, safety protocols, infection control practices, and other related topics. The practical skills assessment tests competency in setting up equipment, assisting with procedures, and other hands-on tasks.

The cost of becoming certified varies depending on where you take your exams and whether you need additional training or classes prior to taking them. Generally speaking, it will cost around $500-$1000 to become certified as an endoscopy technician.

8. Certified Ophthalmic Surgical Technologist (COST)

Certified Ophthalmic Surgical Technologist (COST) is a professional certification program for ophthalmic surgical technologists. It is offered by the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO). The certification is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated the knowledge and skills necessary to perform ophthalmic surgical procedures safely and efficiently.

The COST exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions that cover topics such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, instrumentation, patient care and safety, infection control, and other related areas. To be eligible to take the COST exam, applicants must have completed an ophthalmic surgical technology program or equivalent training approved by JCAHPO. The exam can be taken at any of the JCAHPO-approved testing centers located throughout the United States.

It typically takes about two years of full-time study to prepare for the COST exam. Candidates are encouraged to review course materials from their training program as well as any additional resources available from JCAHPO such as study guides and practice exams.

The cost of taking the COST exam varies depending on where you take it but typically ranges between $200-$400 USD.

9. Certified Cardiothoracic Surgical Technologist (CCST)

A Certified Cardiothoracic Surgical Technologist (CCST) is a specialized surgical technologist who has completed an advanced program of study and training in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. They are responsible for providing assistance to surgeons during complex cardiac and thoracic procedures, including open-heart surgeries.

To become a CCST, you must complete an accredited surgical technology program, which usually takes two years to complete. After graduation, you must pass the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) exam to become certified as a surgical technologist. Once you have passed the NBSTSA exam, you can apply for certification as a CCST from the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT).

The NCCT requires applicants to have at least two years of experience working in a cardiothoracic operating room setting prior to applying for certification. The cost of taking the NCCT exam is $200, plus any applicable fees. Additionally, there may be other costs associated with obtaining certification such as continuing education courses or recertification fees.

10. Certified Orthopedic Surgical Technologist (COST)

A Certified Orthopedic Surgical Technologist (COST) is a professional who has completed specialized training and certification in orthopedic surgery. Orthopedic surgical technologists are responsible for providing assistance to surgeons during orthopedic surgeries. They must be knowledgeable about the anatomy and physiology of the musculoskeletal system, as well as the specific instruments and equipment used in orthopedic procedures.

It typically takes approximately two years to become a Certified Orthopedic Surgical Technologist (COST). This includes completing an accredited program in surgical technology, passing a national certification exam, and obtaining at least one year of experience working in an orthopedic setting.

To become a COST, you must first complete an accredited program in surgical technology from an approved school or institution. After completing the program, you must then pass the national certification exam administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Once certified, you must obtain at least one year of experience working in an orthopedic setting before becoming eligible for COST certification.

The cost to become a Certified Orthopedic Surgical Technologist (COST) will vary depending on your chosen educational program and other associated costs such as textbooks and supplies. Generally speaking, tuition costs range from $2,000 - $15,000 depending on the type of program you choose. Additionally, there is a fee associated with taking the NBSTSA's national certification exam which currently stands at $300.

11. Advanced Perioperative Nursing Certification (APNC).

Advanced Perioperative Nursing Certification (APNC) is a certification program designed to recognize the specialized knowledge and skills of registered nurses who have achieved advanced practice in perioperative nursing. The program is sponsored by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN).

The APNC program requires applicants to have a minimum of two years of full-time experience as a perioperative nurse, or its equivalent, within the past five years. Applicants must also hold an active and unrestricted RN license in the United States or Canada.

To obtain certification, applicants must pass an exam that covers topics such as patient safety and quality care, anesthesia management, surgical technology, surgical procedures and instruments, and postoperative care. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and lasts approximately three hours.

The cost for the APNC exam is $350 for AORN members and $450 for non-members. Additionally, applicants may be required to pay additional fees for study materials or other related expenses.

Overall, it typically takes about six months to complete all the requirements for APNC certification. This includes studying for and taking the exam as well as submitting all necessary paperwork to AORN.

Do You Really Need a Certified Surgical Technologist Certificate?

Yes, you do need a certified surgical technologist certificate in order to become a certified surgical technologist. A certified surgical technologist is responsible for providing assistance to surgeons during operations and other medical procedures. They must be knowledgeable about sterilization techniques, operating room protocols and equipment, and the anatomy of the human body. A certified surgical technologist must also understand the principles of infection control, pharmacology, and anesthesia administration.

In order to become a certified surgical technologist, individuals must have at least an associate’s degree from an accredited school or program in surgical technology or related field. Additionally, they must pass the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) examination administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology & Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). The CST examination is designed to test individuals on their knowledge of patient care before, during, and after surgery; as well as their ability to perform sterilization techniques and use medical instruments correctly. Passing this exam is necessary in order to become a Certified Surgical Technologist.

The CST certification is not just important for those wanting to pursue a career in this field; it is also important for those already employed as surgical technologists who want to demonstrate their competence and stay up-to-date with current standards. Therefore, having a Certified Surgical Technologist Certificate will allow you to prove that you are knowledgeable about all aspects of your job responsibilities and are qualified to work in this field.

Related: Certified Surgical Technologist Resume Examples

FAQs About Certified Surgical Technologist Certifications

1. What is a Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) Certification?

Answer: A CST certification is a professional credential that recognizes the knowledge and skills of surgical technologists. It is awarded by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

2. How do I become certified as a CST?

Answer: To become certified, you must complete an accredited surgical technology program and pass the NBSTSA’s Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam.

3. What are the requirements for recertification?

Answer: To maintain certification, certified surgical technologists must complete 60 continuing education credits every four years and submit their recertification application before their certification expiration date.

4. What topics are covered on the CST exam?

Answer: The CST exam covers topics such as patient care, infection control, equipment management, instrumentation, surgical procedures and pharmacology.

5. How much does it cost to take the CST exam?

Answer: The cost to take the CST exam varies depending on your location but typically ranges from $200-$225 USD.