If you are a surgical tech looking to take your career to the next level and gain access to countless exclusive benefits and opportunities, then joining the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) could be the right fit for you. 

AST is a professional organization where you will be connecting with a community dedicated to enhancing the surgical technology profession and supporting your personal and professional growth.

In this article, we’ll discuss what is AST, the AST membership, the various categories available, the extensive range of benefits you can enjoy, and much more.

Let’s start –

AST Surgical Tech

What is the AST?

The Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) is a professional organization dedicated to representing the interests of surgical technologists and surgical assistants. With over 80,000 members across the United States, AST is the only organization specifically focused on advancing the surgical technology profession. 

Whether you’re a seasoned surgical technologist, a student in a surgical technology program, or an instructor, AST provides various membership categories to cater to your specific needs. 

These categories include Active Membership, Associate Membership, Affiliate Membership, and Retired/Disabled Membership. Each category is designed to accommodate different qualifications and professional backgrounds. 


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AST Membership 

As a member of AST, you become part of a collective force that supports patient care, upholds the highest standards in surgical technology, and strives for professional excellence.

Each membership category offers unique benefits tailored to the specific needs and qualifications of its members. Your choice of membership can provide access to a community of like-minded professionals, and resources designed to support your career in surgical technology.

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Here are the different categories of memberships –

Active Membership

Membership Fees – $80

Active membership is available to individuals who have passed the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) national certifying examination in surgical technology and maintain certification as defined by the NBSTSA.

Active members have the privilege of having a voice and a vote in AST. However, if certified members’ certification currency expires or lapses, they will revert to associate status.

Associate Membership

Membership Fees – $80

Associate membership is right for you if you’ve passed the national certifying examination but haven’t maintained certification as defined by the NBSTSA.

You are also eligible if you are not currently certified by the NBSTSA, but are one of – the pre-1977 practitioners with lifetime certification, students in an accredited surgical tech program, Surgical Assistants, Instructor, or employed surgical techs.

While associate members have a voice in AST, they don’t have voting privileges.

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Affiliate Membership

Membership Fees – $80

This category is open to individuals or organizations that want to affiliate with AST. Whether you’re in the operating room, central sterile supply, anesthesia, or any other healthcare-related field, you’re eligible. As an affiliate member, you can actively participate in discussions but don’t have voting rights within AST. 

Retired/Disabled Membership

Membership Fees – $45

If you’re 67 years or older and can provide proof of your age, you qualify as a retired member. Disabled members must submit official documentation proving a permanent disability and inability to work. 

Retired members have both a voice and a vote and should maintain certification as defined by the NBSTSA, while disabled members have a voice but no vote and shouldn’t maintain certification. 

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Benefits of an AST Membership

traveling surgical techs

AST membership opens the door to a world of benefits and opportunities that can enhance your career and professional development. 

When you become an AST member, you’re not just joining an organization; you’re becoming part of a nationwide network of more than 80,000 surgical technologists and surgical assistants. 

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Here’s what you can look forward to as an AST member –  

Legislative Voice

  • You automatically become a member of the state assembly of your choice, and a part of your membership dues support that state. 
  • Access continuing education credits (CEs) through your state assembly’s workshops and meetings.  
  • Vote for your state assembly board of directors if you’re an active member as defined by the NBSTSA. 
  • Participate in your state assembly’s grassroots network, advocating for surgical technologist certification and patient safety initiatives. 

Members-only Benefits

  • Gain access to relevant online CE courses through AST’s Online CE Resource Center. 
  • Enjoy substantial discounts on CE opportunities, including package deals that can be applied toward credential renewal. 
  • Experience seamless transfer of CE credits to the NBSTSA. 
  • Stay updated on legislative developments that impact your profession. 
  • Waive the $200 non-member CE processing fee. 
  • Have your AST CE credits automatically recorded, whether completed online or earned at AST’s national conference or other AST-sponsored live events. 


  • Receive a monthly subscription to “The Surgical Technologist” journal. 
  • Get monthly E-news updates delivered directly to your email. 
  • Stay informed through AST e-newsletters and newsletters. 
  • Benefit from career-focused AST Guidelines. 

Professional Growth Opportunities

  • Explore AST’s Recommended Clinical Ladder. 
  • Find volunteering and networking opportunities. 
  • Qualifying members can seize professional leadership roles by serving on the AST Board of Directors or State Assembly Board of Directors. 
  • Consider opportunities to serve on AST national committees. 
  • Access scholarship opportunities for students and CSTs. 
  • Utilize the AST career center to post your resume and discover job openings. 


  • Save on AST events such as the national conference, Educators Conference, and hands-on educational sessions.
  • Unlock discounts through partnering organizations, offering a range of services and savings.
  • Enjoy discounts on AST products.
  • Benefit from discounts on auto, home, and renters insurance.
  • Explore discounts on individual occupational accident insurance and liability insurance.
  • By becoming an AST member, you’re not just joining
  • Your membership provides access to invaluable resources, networking opportunities, and a collective voice for advocating your profession and patient safety.

How To Become an AST Member?

scrub nurse vs surgical tech

To become a member of the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST), it is a straightforward process. The good part is you don’t need to pass an exam to become a member of the AST. The membership is typically based on your qualifications, experience, and other criteria related to your professional background.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you join AST –

Step 1 – Eligibility Check

Before you proceed, ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for one of the membership categories offered by AST. These categories include Active, Associate, Affiliate, and Retired/Disabled membership.

Each category has specific requirements, as mentioned above. Also, choose the category depending on your interest.

Step 2 – Online Application

Visit the official AST website to access the online membership application. You can usually find this on the “Join” or “Membership” section of their website.

Step 3 – Choose a Membership Category

Now, you must have decided which membership category would best fit you. So, select the membership category that matches your qualifications and professional status. Remember that the category you choose should align with the criteria for that category.

Step 4 – Fill Out the Application

Complete the membership application form. You will be required to provide personal information, professional details, and other relevant information. Double-check your entries to ensure accuracy.

Step 5 – Submit Required Documents

Depending on your chosen category, you may need to provide supporting documentation. For example, if you’re applying for Active Membership, you might need to submit proof of passing a national certifying examination and maintaining certification as defined by the NBSTSA.

Step 6 – Payment of Membership Dues

Pay the required membership dues for your selected category. Membership fees may vary, so make sure you’re aware of the cost for your chosen category. For example, you need to pay $80 for an Active AST membership.

Step 7 – Review and Confirmation

Review your application for accuracy and completeness. Once you’re satisfied, submit your application and payment.

Step 8 – Wait for Approval

AST will review your application. Once approved, you will officially become an AST member.

Step 9 – Access Membership Benefits

As an AST member, you will gain access to a variety of benefits, including continuing education opportunities, networking, discounts, and more.

Stay engaged with AST by reading their newsletters and staying informed about the latest developments and opportunities available to members.

In Conclusion,

Whether you’re looking for professional growth, educational opportunities, networking, or support to fellow techs, the AST has a membership category that suits your situation.

Moreover, becoming an AST member can open doors to a world of possibilities in the field of surgical technology. Each membership category offers unique benefits tailored to the specific needs and qualifications of its members.

Ultimately, the AST is the leading organization dedicated to supporting surgical technologists in their careers. The members have a voice in shaping the future of the surgical technology field, whether it’s advocating for certification or participating in legislative initiatives that promote patient safety.


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About the Author
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.