Top Surgical Technician Programs in Virginia: Your Guide to a Successful Career

Choosing a surgical technician program in Virginia is crucial for your career trajectory. The state offers a wealth of accredited paths, from swift diploma courses to in-depth associate degrees, all designed to dive you straight into the heart of the operating room. This guide lays out your top options for surgical technician programs in Virginia, gives insights into the essential skills honed during training, and previews how these programs can launch your career as a surgical professional.

Key Takeaways

  • Virginia provides diverse surgical technician educational programs, ranging from fast-track diplomas to comprehensive associate degrees, with an emphasis on hands-on experience in both traditional and hybrid (online and on-campus) settings.
  • Graduates from accredited surgical technician programs in Virginia are equipped with essential skills like instrument knowledge, operating room procedure competency, and patient care, all critical for ensuring successful surgical outcomes and patient safety.
  • Surgical technician programs emphasize the importance of program accreditation and licensure, with graduates entering a growing job market offering opportunities in various healthcare settings and competitive salaries.

Exploring Surgical Technician Programs in Virginia

Surgical technician program in Virginia

Virginia’s landscape offers a diverse array of educational pathways for those eager to enter the operating room as surgical technologists. Whether you seek a fast-track diploma or a comprehensive associate degree, the state’s institutions provide programs tailored to the intricate demands of surgical technology. With an emphasis on hands-on experience and immersive learning, these programs equip students with the proficiency to handle surgical instruments, understand surgical procedures, and become integral parts of the surgical team.

From the bustling corridors of renowned universities to the innovative hybrid classrooms that blend online and in-person instruction, Virginia’s surgical technology programs stand at the confluence of tradition and technology. They are designed not just to educate but to sculpt the future of medical assisting in surgical centers across the region. Here, we’ll examine some top-notch programs that could serve as stepping stones for your career in surgical technology.

ECPI University’s Associate’s Degree Program

ECPI University in Richmond, Virginia, offers a comprehensive Surgical Technology program designed to prepare students for careers as surgical technologists. The program provides hands-on training using industry-standard health technology and simulation equipment, and it aims to develop well-rounded healthcare professionals ready for the demands of the operating room.

  • Program Overview:
    • The Surgical Technology program at ECPI University’s Richmond campus prepares students to assist in surgeries by setting up sterile environments, managing surgical instruments, and supporting the surgical team.
    • The program combines classroom learning with clinical rotations, providing a real-world experience in various healthcare settings.
  • Degree and Duration:
    • Students can earn an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Health Science – Surgical Technology in as little as 1.5 years through a year-round schedule.
    • The program prepares graduates for the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) qualifying exam.
  • Campus and Community:
    • The Richmond campus is located at 2809 Emerywood Pkwy Suite 400, Richmond, Virginia.
    • ECPI University has strong relationships with local healthcare providers, which offer clinical rotations and job opportunities for students.
    • The campus supports various student clubs and community involvement activities, fostering a rich educational environment.

ECPI University’s Surgical Technology program in Richmond provides a comprehensive education, combining theoretical knowledge with practical training. The program’s accelerated pace, industry connections, and emphasis on real-world experience make it an excellent choice for those pursuing a career as a surgical technologist.

Fortis College’s Hybrid Surgical Tech Program

Fortis College distinguishes itself with a unique hybrid Surgical Tech Program, a model that marries the convenience of online coursework with the indispensable experience of on-campus instruction. This blend facilitates a learning environment that adapts to the varied lifestyles and learning preferences of its students. The program’s curriculum is carefully crafted to transition seamlessly from theory to the clinical practice that takes place within surgical centers.

Engaging in clinical rotations is an integral part of this hybrid structure, a crucible where theoretical knowledge is forged into practical expertise in real-world settings. Graduates emerge from Fortis College ready to provide critical support to surgeons and registered nurses, well-versed in the dynamics of the surgical team and the bustling activity of operating rooms.

Virginia Western Community College’s AAS in Surgical Technology

Virginia Western Community College’s Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology is a testament to the institution’s commitment to high-caliber, programmatically accredited education. Its Surgical Technology Lab is a modern-day coliseum where students hone their skills within mock operating rooms that simulate the pressures and precision of real surgeries. The lab’s location, strategically placed in the Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital building, underscores the program’s integration with the health sciences community.

The program’s comprehensive curriculum readies students to be proficient surgical technologists who can navigate the complexities of surgical assisting with confidence. Armed with the knowledge and experience gained from this applied science program, graduates are poised to join surgical centers and become essential members of the surgical team, contributing their expertise to a variety of medical settings.

Sentara College’s AAS in Surgical Technology

Sentara College’s program in Surgical Technology offers:

  • Personalized learning
  • Exhaustive practical training
  • Full-time commitment and daytime classes
  • Immersion in an environment that mimics the intensity and pace of a surgical center
  • Access to a simulated operating room lab where students can perfect aseptic and surgical techniques

The program begins annually in August.

The individualized approach to education at Sentara College is evident in the following:

  • 1:1 student-to-instructor ratio during clinical settings, ensuring personalized guidance and feedback
  • 1,080 hours of invaluable practical experience
  • Clinical experiences conducted in Sentara facilities offer strategic advantages for employment within the Sentara network

Essential Skills for Surgical Technologists

Surgical technologist performing operating room procedures

The journey towards becoming a surgical technologist is paved with the acquisition of specific skills that are indispensable in the operating room. Surgical technologists are the unsung heroes who ensure the seamless execution of surgical procedures, equipped with a vast knowledge of surgical instruments and a keen understanding of operating room dynamics. Core competencies such as:

  • Active listening
  • Organization
  • Critical thinking
  • Time management
  • Teamwork

are just the beginning of what defines a successful surgical technologist.

While technical proficiency in handling surgical instruments and assisting in surgical procedures is paramount, surgical technologists must also embrace continuous education, network through professional associations, and adapt to non-traditional work hours. These professionals are often the cornerstone of the surgical team, standing for long periods under surgical lights, fully attentive, and prepared for the rigors of the operating room.

Surgical Instrument Knowledge

Surgical instruments used in surgical procedures

Knowledge of surgical instruments is a critical skill set for a surgical technologist. From the sterile drapes to the suction machines, each piece of equipment plays a crucial role in the success of surgical procedures. Preoperative duties include not only the thorough sterilization of instruments but also the meticulous preparation and organization of these tools to ensure they are within easy reach during surgery.

During operations, surgical technologists are tasked with monitoring the environment, managing the use of equipment, and assisting with the operation of sophisticated surgical machinery. Their ability to anticipate the surgeon’s needs and provide the correct instrument at the right moment is a testament to their expertise and the trust placed in them by the entire operating room team.

Operating Room Procedures

Operating room procedures are a symphony of meticulously orchestrated steps, and surgical technologists are the conductors ensuring each note is played to perfection. Their responsibility includes:

  • Maintaining a sterile environment is crucial for preventing infections
  • Assisting with tissue retraction
  • Securing the sterile field until the patient is safely transferred to recovery.

A surgical technologist’s day is filled with a variety of tasks: from the surgical scrub to setting up sterile tables, to passing instruments and supplies, to assisting with the operation of electrocautery devices. They must adapt to new technologies, participate in quality improvement practices, and ensure safety standards are upheld before, during, and after procedures.

Patient Care and Advocacy

Patient care and advocacy are at the heart of a surgical technologist’s role. They are responsible for:

  • Ensuring the safety of the patient through meticulous instrument counts, accurate record-keeping, and secure dressings after procedures
  • Engaging in patient care tasks that include verifying patient identity, prepping the skin, and maintaining normothermia
  • Contributing to the overall well-being of those under their care

Postoperatively, the surgical technologist’s duties continue as they assist in applying dressings and transporting patients to recovery areas. Their exceptional attention to detail, adaptability, and effective communication with the healthcare team are crucial for ensuring smooth procedures and advocating for the patient’s well-being throughout the surgical experience.

Accreditation and Licensure for Surgical Technician Programs

Accredited surgical technician program certification

Accreditation and licensure serve as hallmarks of quality and professionalism within the field of surgical technology. Accreditation signifies a program’s adherence to educational standards and is a beacon for students seeking to become competent surgical professionals, Similarly, licensure is a mark of credibility, ensuring that surgical technicians meet the educational and certification standards mandated by regulatory authorities, a critical step for those looking to join the ranks of esteemed surgical technologists.

Understanding the importance of these credentials is essential for anyone embarking on a career in surgical technology. They not only validate the quality of education received but also open doors to career opportunities in the healthcare industry.

We will now examine the importance of program accreditation and the specific professional licensure requirements in Virginia.

Importance of Program Accreditation

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is a key player in upholding the educational quality of surgical technician programs. Accreditation by CAAHEP ensures that programs meet rigorous standards, which in turn provides students with the assurance that their education will prepare them for the demands of their chosen profession,

Accreditation influences a program’s standing among employers and has implications for the transferability of credits for students looking to further their education. In Virginia, health education schools such as those at Virginia Western Community College and Fortis College have earned the CAAHEP’s stamp of approval, a testament to their commitment to providing top-tier allied health education programs.

Professional Licensure Requirements

In Virginia, the path to becoming a licensed surgical technologist includes graduating from an accredited program and obtaining a credential from recognized bodies like the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). This combination of education and certification is often a prerequisite for employment, opening up a world of career opportunities for those who meet these professional standards.

Licensure requirements in Virginia aim to safeguard the public and guarantee that surgical technologists possess the requisite qualifications for delivering competent care. Alternative pathways for licensure include military training programs and Department of Labor registered apprenticeships, broadening the avenues through which individuals can enter this esteemed profession.

Career Opportunities for Surgical Technologist Graduates

Surgical technologist in a hospital operating room

Upon completion of a surgical technology program, graduates find themselves at the threshold of a career brimming with opportunities. The healthcare industry eagerly awaits these new professionals, offering them a chance to work in diverse settings and contribute to a variety of surgical procedures. With the field expected to see a 9% job growth from 2020 to 2030, surgical technologists can look forward to a dynamic career landscape.

From hospitals to outpatient centers, and physician offices to specialty clinics, the options are plentiful for those equipped with the right skills and knowledge. Let’s examine the potential work environments and the encouraging job growth and demand for surgical technologists.

Employment Settings

Surgical technologists are not confined to a single work environment; their skills are in demand across various healthcare settings. Some of the common work environments for surgical technologists include:

  • Hospitals, as the principal employers, provide a significant number of job opportunities
  • Outpatient centers
  • Physician offices
  • Dentist offices

These settings are always on the lookout for skilled surgical technologists.

The employment landscape for surgical technologists is as wide-ranging as it is rewarding. With competitive salaries and the opportunity to work in specialized settings such as:

  • Specialty hospitals
  • Ambulatory surgical centers
  • Physician offices
  • Labor and delivery units
  • Emergency rooms

The career opportunities are as diverse as the surgeries they assist in. Programs such as those at Virginia Western Community College and ECPI University prepare students for these various environments, ensuring they have a broad spectrum of employment options upon graduation.

Job Growth and Demand

The demand for surgical technologists is on an upward trajectory, with an expected job growth that outpaces many other professions. This growth is driven by an aging population and the resulting increase in surgical procedures, ensuring a steady demand for the skills that surgical technologists bring to the operating room.

Surgical technologists can also look forward to career advancement opportunities that can lead to specializations, managerial roles, or transitions to registered nursing. With a median annual salary that offers a stable financial future, pursuing a career as a surgical technologist is not only fulfilling but also financially rewarding.

Financial Aid and Admissions Process

Embarking on the path to becoming a surgical technologist also involves navigating the financial aid and admissions process. Understanding the available financial aid options and the steps required for admission can make the pursuit of higher education less daunting. In Virginia, surgical technician programs are equipped to provide students with the resources they need to manage the cost of education and take the first step toward a successful career.

Let’s look into the financial aid prospects and the process of admission, ensuring that aspiring surgical technologists have all the information they need to prepare for their educational journey.

Financial Aid Options

Navigating the financial landscape of higher education can be as intricate as learning the suturing techniques in the operating room. For students in Virginia beginning a surgical technology program, numerous financial aid options are available to consider. Beginning with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), students set the stage for federal aid that could significantly subsidize their education costs. It’s a crucial first step that requires attention to detail and timely submission, much like the work they will do in the future.

Beyond federal aid, there are government and private loans, and some healthcare programs even offer payment plans through the Bursar’s Office. These financial aid options are designed to provide students with the means to focus on their studies and career opportunities, rather than the financial burden that often accompanies higher education.

Navigating the Admissions Process

The admissions process for surgical technology programs includes the following steps:

  1. Submitting application materials by the deadline, which is typically June 1 for programs commencing in August.
  2. Completing any required prerequisite courses or exams.
  3. Providing transcripts from previous education.
  4. Write a personal statement or essay explaining your interest in the field.
  5. Submitting letters of recommendation from teachers or employers.
  6. Participating in an interview or admissions test, if required.

It’s a process that requires organization and foresight, mirroring the qualities of a skilled surgical technologist.

Prospective high school graduate students will need to meet certain prerequisites, pass background checks, and demonstrate physical abilities relevant to the demands of surgical technology. Once admitted, it’s time to finalize enrollment and prepare financial aid packages, setting the stage for a journey that will transform them from students into integral members of the healthcare system.


We’ve journeyed through the halls of Virginia’s top surgical technician programs, uncovered the essential skills that define a successful surgical technologist, highlighted the significance of accreditation and licensure, and explored the promising career landscape that awaits graduates. This guide serves as a roadmap for those who have the precision of a surgeon’s hand and the heart of a healer, ready to embark on a career that’s as rewarding as it is critical to patient care. The journey to becoming a surgical technologist is one of dedication and passion, leading to a fulfilling role on the frontlines of healthcare.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best major for a surgical tech?

The best major for a surgical tech is medical technician, as 62% of surgical technicians major in this field. Other common majors for a surgical technician include nursing and business.

What is the highest-paying surgical tech?

The highest-paying surgical tech positions are in states like Alaska, California, Connecticut, Nevada, or Washington, where annual wages range from $66,590 to $73,960. Surgical Technologists made a median salary of $55,960 in 2022, with the top 25% earning $64,360 and the lowest 25% earning $47,860.

How much does a certified surgical technologist make in Virginia?

A certified surgical technologist in Virginia makes an average salary of $54,096, with a typical range between $48,623 and $59,510. The average hourly rate is approximately $25.11, which is 32% lower than the national average.

How do I become a surgical tech in Virginia?

To become a surgical tech in Virginia, you need to graduate from a nationally accredited Surgical Technology Program and pass the National Certification Examination. This is a requirement for working in the state.

What is the duration of the surgical technology program at ECPI University?

The surgical technology program at ECPI University can be completed in as little as 16 months, providing a fast track to a career as a surgical technologist.