Top Surgical Technician Programs in Idaho: Your Path to a Healthcare Career

Embarking on a career as a surgical technician in Idaho means seeking out a program that aligns with industry standards and your professional goals. This article offers a direct path to understanding the landscape of surgical technician programs in Idaho, including crucial accreditation facts, program durations, entry prerequisites, and the certifications that will be in your grasp. Equip yourself with the knowledge to choose a program that propels you into a promising career in the world of surgical technology.

Key Takeaways

  • Graduating from an accredited surgical technician program in Idaho, such as those at the College of Southern Idaho or Idaho State University, is essential for ensuring the quality of education and eligibility for certification exams.
  • Surgical technician programs in Idaho offer a comprehensive curriculum that includes both theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience, with a requirement to complete a minimum number of clinical cases to develop practical skills.
  • Prospective surgical technicians need to be aware of the requirements for certification and state licensure, which include passing the CST exam and undergoing background checks, to enhance employment opportunities and career growth.

Exploring Surgical Technician Programs in Idaho

Surgical technician preparing equipment in a hospital setting

Idaho is home to a plethora of surgical technician programs, each designed to instill trainees with the necessary skills to assist during surgeries. These programs, varying in length, prerequisites, and outcomes, range from certificates to diplomas, and even associate degrees. One common factor among all these programs is the importance of accreditation. Graduation from an accredited program not only ensures the quality and rigor of the education received but also signals to employers that the graduate is proficient and ready to enter the workforce.

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) are the main accrediting bodies for surgical technology programs. For instance, the College of Southern Idaho and Idaho State University are known to offer CAAHEP-accredited surgical technology programs.

Accredited Surgical Technology Programs

The role of accreditation in validating the standards of surgical technology programs is undeniable. It is instrumental in making graduates eligible for certification exams. The Surgical Technology program at the College of Eastern Idaho (CEI), North Idaho College and College of Western Idaho are one such example of an accredited program by CAAHEP in Idaho.

North Idaho College

Program Overview

North Idaho College offers a comprehensive Surgical Technology program designed to prepare students for entry-level employment as surgical technologists. The program is available in two formats:

  1. Basic Technical Certificate:
    • Duration: 1 semester
    • Credits: 14
    • Full-Time: Yes
  2. Associate of Applied Science Degree:
    • Duration: 5 semesters
    • Credits: 62-64
    • Full-Time: Yes

Program Description

The Surgical Technology program at North Idaho College is meticulously designed to equip students with the essential knowledge and skills required to thrive in the surgical field. The curriculum adheres to guidelines set by the American Medical Association and the Association of Surgical Technologists.

Key Components of the Curriculum:

  • Didactic Instruction: Classroom learning covering foundational knowledge in surgical technology.
  • Laboratory Practice: Hands-on practice in simulated healthcare settings.
  • Clinical Externship: Real-life experience in medical settings, starting in the fourth semester, where students work directly in hospitals, surgery centers, and specialty clinics.

Admission Details

The Surgical Technology program is a selective admissions program, ensuring a focused and high-quality learning experience.

Admission Cycles:

  • Fall Semester Start: Application cycle runs from early March to mid-May.
  • Spring Semester Start: Application cycle runs from early August to mid-October.

Admission Requirements:

  • Completion of specific course prerequisites.
  • Meeting the minimum GPA requirements for Professional Component courses (C+/2.3).
  • Competitive entry based on academic performance and other criteria.

How to Apply:

  • Complete the general admissions application for North Idaho College.
  • Submit the health science application specific to the Surgical Technology program.
  • Apply for financial aid (FAFSA) and explore scholarship opportunities offered by the college.

Certification and Accreditation

Upon successful completion of the program, graduates receive an Associate of Applied Science Degree and are eligible to sit for the National Certification Exam conducted by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

Accrediting Bodies:

  • Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP): Ensures the program meets the high standards required for accreditation.
  • Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (ARC/STSA): Provides specific recommendations and guidelines for surgical technology education.

Additional Resources:

  • Access to student organizations such as Rotaract, the Student Government Association, and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
  • Financial aid options and personalized assistance through the Financial Aid office.
  • Small class sizes to ensure individualized attention and support for each student.

The Surgical Technology program at North Idaho College provides rigorous and comprehensive training through a blend of classroom instruction, hands-on laboratory practice, and clinical externships. With strong accreditation and selective admission, the program ensures that graduates are well-prepared for successful careers as surgical technologists, capable of performing critical roles in various medical settings.

Surgical instruments used in surgical procedures

College of Western Idaho

Program Overview

  • Degree: Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Location: Ada County Center
  • Cost: $9,698 (additional costs may apply)


The Surgical Technology program at the College of Western Idaho (CWI) is designed to prepare students for essential roles in surgical procedures. The curriculum provides a comprehensive blend of classroom education and hands-on clinical experience.

Key Learning Areas:

  • Technical Skills in Surgery: Training in handling surgical instruments and understanding surgical procedures.
  • Sterile Processing Knowledge: Principles of sterile processing to maintain a safe and efficient operating environment.
  • Clinical Experience: Practical experience in various surgical settings.
  • Patient Care Techniques: Understanding preoperative and postoperative patient care procedures.

Admission Process

Admission into the Surgical Technology program is competitive and requires a supplemental application process.

Steps for Application:

  1. Review Application Steps: Includes details on qualifications, admission to CWI, prerequisite and corequisite classes, certifications, work history, unofficial transcripts, professional references, and applying to the program.
  2. Complete Each Step: Follow the application process as indicated.
  3. Submit Application: Submit the program application and necessary documentation by the deadline.


The Surgical Technology program at CWI is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Student Support and Resources

  • Financial Aid: Students may be eligible for financial aid and scholarships.
  • Lab Spaces: State-of-the-art lab spaces for hands-on, comprehensive career training.
  • Advising: Assistance with academic planning and navigating educational journeys.
  • Career Advancement: Preparation for rewarding careers in surgical technology.

The Surgical Technology program at the College of Western Idaho offers a robust education and training pathway for students aspiring to become surgical technologists. With a blend of theoretical knowledge, hands-on practice, and clinical experience, graduates are well-equipped for successful careers in various surgical settings.

College of Eastern Idaho (CEI)

Program Overview

The Surgical Technology program at the College of Eastern Idaho (CEI) prepares students for roles as surgical technologists, working alongside doctors and nurses in the operating room. The program can be completed in as little as 18 months and offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree.

Key Benefits

  • Duration and Cost: The program is relatively short (18 months), allowing students to enter the workforce quickly and with fewer educational expenses.
  • Employment Outlook: There is a strong demand for surgical technologists, with job growth projected to be faster than average according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Earnings Potential: The average salary for surgical technologists in the U.S. is over $48,000 per year. Graduates from CEI typically start with salaries ranging from $27,809 to $48,048.
  • Certification: Graduates can earn the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) credential, enhancing their employability across the country.
  • Career Advancement: Experience gained in this role can serve as a foundation for further career development in the healthcare field.
  • Work Environment: Surgical technologists work in a dynamic, hands-on environment, using advanced surgical technology including laser, robotic, and fiber optic equipment.
  • Impact: Surgical technologists play a crucial role in ensuring surgeries are conducted safely and successfully, making a significant difference in patient outcomes.

The Surgical Technology program at the College of Eastern Idaho provides a fast-track, cost-effective path to a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. With strong job prospects, good earning potential, and opportunities for advancement, it is an excellent choice for those interested in the fast-paced environment of surgical technology.

Surgical Procedures and Instrumentation

Surgical technician demonstrating sterile techniques

Gaining knowledge about surgical procedures and instrument usage is an integral part of surgical technicians’ training. Programs in Idaho train students in:

  • Operating room setups for diverse surgeries
  • Emphasizing the importance of grasping the sequence and flow of surgical procedures
  • Anticipating the surgeon’s needs
  • Ensuring the correct instruments are used at the right times.

Stocking, preparing, and sterilizing surgical instruments and supplies are crucial tasks performed by students, ensuring they are thoroughly versed in the equipment used during various surgical procedures. An essential part of the curriculum focuses on identifying and using surgical instruments, equipping students to proficiently support the surgical team with proper surgical instrumentation.

The College of Southern Idaho’s Surgical Technology program provides comprehensive training in aseptic technique, underscoring its critical role in maintaining sterility in the operating room.

Sterile Techniques and Patient Care

Surgical tech students must master sterile techniques to maintain a contamination-free environment in the operating room. They are trained comprehensively in patient care, with a focus on integrating sterile techniques and sterile processing.

Patient care by surgical technicians using sterile techniques spans from preoperative preparation to postoperative recovery. Effective patient care and positive surgical outcomes are deeply linked to the proper use of sterile techniques by the surgical team, including technicians.

Certification and Licensing

To become a certified surgical technologist, one must pass the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) examination conducted by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Graduating from an accredited program is a prerequisite to sit for this exam.

Certified surgical technologists are recognized for their higher skills and have increased employment opportunities. To maintain their certification, surgical technologists are required to renew it periodically through continuing education or re-examination.

National Board Certification

The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and the Accreditation Division of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) accredit the surgical technologists’ certification program administered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). Certification through the NBSTSA is recognized across the United States, and it often serves as a stepping stone for upward mobility within the healthcare sector. It is also frequently a requirement for employment, a path to increased compensation, and a means of securing professional recognition.

In Idaho, graduates of accredited Surgical Technology programs are prepared to earn the title of Certified Surgical Technologist by passing the NBSTSA exam, which is typically scheduled by the program director in the final week of the program. These graduates are ready to begin their careers as entry-level surgical technologists.

State Licensing Requirements

Though state licensing requirements may differ, most Surgical Technology programs, like the one at North Idaho College, typically require a criminal background check for admission. Clinical facilities partnered with Surgical Technology programs reserve the right to perform their additional background checks on students.

However, applicants should be aware that certain records can disqualify them from clinical participation, and thus from admission to the program. This highlights the importance of maintaining a clean record, both for acceptance into the program and for employment after completion.

Career Opportunities and Job Outlook

Surgical technicians in a surgical team performing a procedure

Graduates from Surgical Technology programs in Idaho can explore job opportunities in various surgical settings, including:

  • General medical and surgical hospitals
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Physicians’ offices
  • Employment services
  • Specialty hospitals

Nationally, the demand for surgical technologists is on the rise, which mirrors positive job prospects for those in Idaho given the overall increasing need for these professionals across the country.

Programs like the one at North Idaho College are structured to equip students with the necessary skills for entry-level employment in hospitals, surgery centers, and specialty clinics. This equips graduates with a versatile skill set, opening up a wide array of job opportunities.

Specialization Options

Surgical technicians can often advance their careers by specializing in different areas. These specializations can range from:

  • Cardiovascular
  • Neurosurgery
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Orthopedics
  • Ophthalmology
  • Plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • Trauma and emergency surgery
  • Urology

Each specialization offers a unique set of challenges and rewards. For instance, Cardiovascular Surgical Technologists focus on heart and lung surgeries, Neurosurgical Technologists on the brain and nervous system, Obstetric and Gynecological Surgical Technologists on labor and delivery, and Orthopedic Surgical Technologists on musculoskeletal surgeries.

Specialty hospitals are among the top employers for surgical technicians, providing opportunities for specialists in areas such as organ transplantation, orthopedics, and neurosurgery.

Job Growth and Salary Expectations

It’s also worth considering the financial benefits of a career in surgical technology. The average starting salary for graduates of CEI’s Surgical Technology program over the last five years ranged from $27,809 to $48,048. Surgical technologists in Idaho also have opportunities in ambulatory health care services and medical and diagnostic laboratories, which are among the top-paying industries for this profession.

The job growth and salary expectations for surgical technicians in Idaho are encouraging. This makes it an ideal career choice for those interested in a rewarding profession in the healthcare sector.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Students discussing financial aid and scholarship options

Enrolling in a Surgical Technology program can require substantial financial investment. However, there are various financial aid and scholarship opportunities available to offset these costs. For instance, the College of Southern Idaho offers Health Science Human Services Student Scholarships to students enrolled in programs including Surgical Technology. These scholarships, funded by endowments and donations, have specific criteria. Students can apply for these scholarships through their MyCSI account using their CSI Student ID Number and password.

Professional Development and Networking

For surgical technicians in Idaho, networking can be a beneficial tool. It not only helps build relationships with peers and mentors but also leads to career advancement opportunities. Through networking, surgical technicians can find mentors who offer career support, skill development guidance, and emotional backing.

Participation in professional organizations also gives surgical technicians access to a multitude of resources, advice, and support which are instrumental for their career progression, development of practical skills, and enhancement of professional attributes.


Becoming a surgical technician is a rewarding career choice that offers a wealth of opportunities. Idaho provides an array of educational programs that equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in this field. With the increasing demand for surgical technicians, coupled with promising job prospects and financial rewards, it’s an opportune time to embark on a career in surgical technology.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a surgical tech in Idaho?

To become a surgical tech in Idaho, you can enroll in a Surgical Technology program that offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and prepares you to sit for the certification exam given by the National Board for Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting. This will equip you with the necessary knowledge and technical skills for entry-level employment in the field of Surgical Technology.

What is the highest-paid surgical tech?

The highest-paid surgical tech specialties include operating room technologists, cardiovascular surgical technologists, and surgical neurophysiologists, with salaries ranging from up to $100,000 to $112,500 per year. Scrub tech and OR scrub tech positions also offer competitive salaries, ranging from up to $83,000 to $87,500 per year.

What is the best major for a surgical tech?

The best major for a surgical tech is typically medical technician, followed by majors in nursing, biology, chemistry, or business. These fields provide the necessary foundation for entering a master’s program in surgical technology.

What are some potential career paths for surgical technicians?

Surgical technicians can pursue career paths in general medical and surgical hospitals, outpatient care centers, physicians’ offices, and specialty hospitals, with opportunities to specialize in areas such as cardiovascular, neurosurgery, obstetrics and gynecology, and orthopedics.

Are there financial aid and scholarship opportunities for surgical technician students in Idaho?

Yes, the College of Southern Idaho provides Health Science Human Services Student Scholarships for Surgical Technology students. This can be a great financial aid opportunity for those studying in Idaho.