How to Become a Scrub Tech in 5 Steps

So, you want to become a scrub tech? Here are the five steps you need to take to make your dream a reality.

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Five years ago, the mean annual wage for scrub techs was $43,470, or $20.87 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The employment outlook for this career is favorable, with a projected growth rate of 11 percent between 2016 and 2026. If you’re thinking about becoming a scrub tech, also called a surgical technologist, here’s what you need to know.

What is a Scrub Tech?

A scrub tech, also called a surgical technologist, is a member of the surgical team whose responsibility is to prepare the operating room and sterile instruments for surgery and to assist the surgeons during the procedure. Scrub techs work in hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, and doctor’s offices.

The scrub tech’s duties generally fall into three categories: preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative. In the preoperative phase, the scrub tech gathers sterile supplies and instruments needed for the specific procedure. During surgery, the scrub tech hands instruments to the surgeon and maintains a sterile field. After surgery, the scrub tech collects used instruments and supplies and prepares them for sterilization.

Most scrub techs have completed a formal training program that takes about nine months to one year to complete. Some programs lead to certification, but it is not required for employment. Many scrub techs start their careers as certified nurse assistants or medical assistants and then complete on-the-job training to become a scrub tech.

The 5 Steps to Becoming a Scrub Tech

So, you want to become a scrub tech? Scrub techs are essential members of the surgical team, responsible for ensuring that the operating room is sterile and that the patient is prepped and ready for surgery. If you’re detail-oriented, have good communication skills, and are interested in helping people, then a career as a scrub tech might be a good fit for you. Here are the five steps you’ll need to take to become a scrub tech.

Step One: Complete an accredited training program

Step One: Complete an accredited training program

Becoming a scrub tech requires completing an accredited training program. These programs are typically between nine and twelve months long, and they culminate in a certificate or diploma. During your training, you will learn about sterilization techniques, medical terminology, and surgical procedures. You will also gain hands-on experience in a hospital or other medical setting.

Step Two: Pass the Certification Exam

After you complete your accredited training program, you will need to pass the Certification Exam for Scrub Technicians. This exam is offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA). To be eligible to take the exam, you must have completed an accredited training program and paid the exam fee.

The exam consists of two parts: a written examination and a practical examination. The written examination tests your knowledge of surgical technology principles and practices. The practical examination assesses your ability to apply what you have learned in your accredited training program.

Step Three: Become Licensed or Registered in Your State

Once you have passed the Certification Exam for Scrub Technicians, you may need to become licensed or registered in your state before you can begin working as a scrub tech. requirements vary by state, but they typically include passing an additional exam and/or completing a certain amount of continuing education credits.

Step Four: Get Certified in BLS (Basic Life Support) & ACLS (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support) Becoming certified in BLS (Basic Life Support) & ACLS (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support) is not required to become a scrub tech, but it is recommended. These certifications demonstrate that you have the skills to provide life-saving care in an emergency situation. You can complete BLS & ACLS certification courses through the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.

Step Five: Find a Job! Once you have completed all of the steps above, you are ready to begin your career as a scrub tech! You can search for open positions on job boards like or, or you can contact hospitals or other medical facilities directly to inquire about open positions

Step Two: Obtain certification

Working as a scrub tech requires a certain level of knowledge and skills. One way to demonstrate your competence in the field is to obtain certification from a professional organization, such as the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM).

While certification is not required in all states, it may give you an edge when applying for jobs. In addition, some employers may require certification as a condition of employment.

To become certified, you will need to pass an exam administered by IAHCSMM or another organization. The exam covers topics such as infection control, medical terminology, and safety procedures.

Once you have passed the exam, you will need to renew your certification every few years by completing continuing education credits or retake the exam.

Step Three: Apply for a position

The third step in becoming a scrub tech is applying for a position. You will likely need to have completed your training and have received your certification before you can apply for a position. Once you have completed these steps, you can search for open positions either online or in your local area.

When you find a position that you are interested in, be sure to read the job description carefully to ensure that you meet all of the qualifications. Once you have done this, you can submit your application and resume. Be sure to highlight your training and certification in your application and resume, as this will make you more qualified for the position.

Step Four: Maintain certification

To keep your certification current, most agencies require that you complete a certain number of continuing education credits every two to three years. The American Board of Perioperative Medicine (ABOPM) provides a list of approved continuing education providers on its website. You can also check with your state licensing board or professional association for additional requirements in your area.

Step Five: Advance your career

If you want to stay in the surgical technologist field, you may eventually want to pursue a management or educator role. You could also move into a more specialized area of surgical technology, such as cardiovascular surgery or neurosurgery.

Some scrub techs eventually decide to go back to school to become registered nurses or physician assistants. If you’re interested in this route, be sure to research the preparation and education requirements involved.


In conclusion, becoming a scrub tech is a great way to start a career in the medical field. Although it does take some time and effort to complete the necessary training, the rewards are well worth it. With a relatively low cost of entry and plenty of opportunities for advancement, there is no reason not to give it a try.

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