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How to become a Certified Surgical Tech

How to become a CST

My name is Tiffanie, and I became a CST because, if I’m being honest, I really went into the school just looking for something hands-on because I got tired of bookwork. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and my advisor suggested the ST program. Crazy right ?! But I must say, it’s been almost 4 years in April, and it is by far the best decision I could have made for myself career-wise. Would I love to advance? Yes, but I am and can be comfortable in this field. Plus, it’s just something to love!

What education did you have to go through?

I went through the year-long diploma course through Concorde, but there was an option for an extended course for a degree. It was an accredited program through NBSTSA, and I received certification after passing my exam.

What is a travel CST income?

The average salary is $84,736 a year, according to That shows that you would make $40.74 an hour. This is the equivalent of $1,629/week or $7,061/month. Depending on the market, this is always subject to change, but as of now, this is the average nationwide.

What does a typical shift look like and what do you enjoy about it?

There are various shifts depending on where you work. You can typically do 8, 10, or 12hr shifts. There’s a call and late stay, again depending on the facility. My favorite part about my job is being a part of a team that makes a difference in someone’s life. It’s an incredible feeling! There will be good days and there will be bad days. Some days you’ll laugh all day, and some days you’ll want to sneak somewhere private and cry. But in the end, you come back the next day glad to be doing what you do another day. It’s not an easy journey, and there’s a lot to learn.

Words of wisdom for a new travel CST.

NEVER feel like you have to know it all because you never will. Don’t spend too much time worrying about one thing, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about a mistake because everyone makes them, and no one is perfect. The most significant part is being open and honest when you make a mistake so it can be corrected. You’ll learn from them and grow that way. Don’t be afraid to take notes, either. You might feel nervous about your first assignment. I was on my first 3! lol! But you will learn along the way what to look for in contracts; you’ll know what you want to include in yours as well before signing.

Pros for me: being able to control my own schedule as far as picking contracts and choosing when I want to work and have time off. The downside for me, considering I have children, is being away from my family. Sometimes they can come with me, like during the summer. But during school, if I’m away, I miss them a lot even though I get to visit. But if you homeschool your children or have little ones that aren’t in school, a spouse, companion, parents, friends, or whoever, it can be enjoyable to travel together and see new places. My advice for a first-time traveler is to go in confident, ready to work, and, most importantly, smile. You will be fine.

About the Author

Travel CST, Tiffanie H., teamed up with Travel Nurses, Inc. to discuss how to become a certified surgical technician. Travel Nurses, Inc. staffs healthcare professionals nationwide.

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