A Cool Job You Didn’t Know Existed: Surgical Technicians

By Katelyn Allen on Friday, September 25, 2020

Rett Peek
Towania Peterson, Surgery Technician

Grady native Towania Peterson has always enjoyed helping people and knew she wanted to pursue a career in health care. She started off as a certified nurse assistant and later continued on as a phlebotomist, before eventually deciding to go back to school to become a surgical technologist.

Surgical techs, also knowns as scrubs or operating room (OR) techs, assist with surgeries and operations. Their many duties include transporting patients to surgeries, preparing ORs, arranging equipment and helping doctors during surgeries.

After earning an associate degree from Southeast Arkansas College, Towania now works as a surgical technologist for UAMS. “My responsibilities are to prepare the surgical room for surgery, make sure I have supplies needed for surgery, to assist the surgeon by passing sterile instruments, to maintain [an] accurate count of all supplies, and maintain a sterile field and environment for the patient throughout the surgery,” Towania says.

Employment of surgical technologists is projected to grow 9% by 2028. And while demand grows, so does student interest. Traditional and non-traditional students are taking notice that they can actually be a part of life-changing surgeries with only a certificate or two-year degree. Of course, there’s a little more to it than that. Internships and on-the-job experience — and continuing education (like advanced certifications or degrees) ­— can truly set you apart.

Towania says she is constantly learning on the job because she gets to work with new doctors on new surgeries each day. She stays motivated by focusing on the patients. “[It’s a] rewarding feeling knowing that you can, and have, helped someone.” For Towania, that’s the best part of her job — and, she adds, “I get to do and see so many different surgeries.

“It's a great career.
You never know
what to expect
[each] day of surgery life.”


► You're good at managing stress.

► You have the physical stamina.

► You're detail-oriented.

Years of education required:

1-2 years
Either a certificate program (1 year) or an associate degree program (2 years)

Average Salary in Arkansas

Source: bls.gov