So, you want to become a Surgical tech but must be wondering about the challenges you need to prepare for. Yes, it could be challenging but certainly won’t force you to drop out.

The challenges of a surgical tech school depend majorly on your learning appetite and various factors, from the program you choose to the educational background you possess.

But if you face the challenges a rewarding career awaits you.  

To enlighten you about the challenges, we have this article where we’ll discuss how hard is a surgical tech school, the factors, a day in their life, and the challenges they face after becoming one.

Let’s start –

Is Surgical Tech School Hard?

How Hard is Surgical Tech School?

Surgical tech school can be challenging, but the level of difficulty varies from person to person based on individual factors such as prior education, study habits, and personal motivation.

Also, the challenges depend on other factors like the program you chose to enroll in, the coursework, the CST examination, and others. Let’s discuss them all – 


-> What is a Surgical Tech?

-> What Does a Surgical Tech Do?

-> How to Become a Surgical Tech?

Surgical Tech Programs

The right surgical tech programs will teach you the necessary skills to make you a capable surgical tech. There are 3 options to choose to enroll in a Surgical Tech program from the school of your choice.

They are as follows –

Associate Degree

An Associate Degree in Surgical Technology is an undergraduate program typically offered by community colleges and technical schools. This degree takes about 2 years to complete. It would cost you between $5,000 to $40,000.

Certificate Program

A certificate course in Surgical Technology is a short-term, specialized program that provides students with the essential knowledge and skills required to work as Surgical Techs. This takes about 1 year to finish. It would cost you between $5,000 to $15,000.

Online Programs

An online program in Surgical Technology allows you to study the principles and skills necessary for a career as a Surgical Technologist. It would cost you between $3,000 to $10,000.

Since we all are aware of the virtues of an online training program, we only recommend you go after them.

Read More:

-> Online Surgical Tech Programs

-> Surgical Tech Classes & Courses

-> Surgical Tech Program & Training


The course curricula are challenging but not so tough. In the program you’ll learn – Surgical Procedures, Medical Terminology, Anatomy and Physiology, Pharmacology, Sterilization Techniques, Patient Care, etc.  

So, if you have a science background you may find it really easy and if not, you might be required to dedicate a few hours to cope with the coursework. However, the coursework is not up to the level of an RN or a Doctor.

Hands-On Training

For practical experience, you’ll be working in real operating room settings by assisting in surgeries, setting up surgical instruments and equipment, and learning to maintain a sterile environment.

This practical experience is essential but can be challenging as you apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to real-world situations.

Also Read:

-> AST Surgical Tech 

-> NCCT Surgical Tech

-> Surgical Tech Study Guide

Honing the Skills

How Long Does It Take to Become a Surgical Tech?

The key skills required to succeed in this role are – Teamwork and Communication. You need to work closely with surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.

Thus effective teamwork and communication skills are essential, while some already possess them, other students may find these skills challenging to develop. Again, it would depend on your learning appetite.

CST Exam

After completing the program, you are eligible to apply for the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) exam, which is administered by NBSTSA or, NCST which is offered through the American Allied Health (AAH).

Now, you need to prepare thoroughly for the CST exam. Consider using study guides, practice exams, and resources provided by the NBSTSA to enhance your chances of success.

The exam contains 175 questions, with only 150 scored questions, and out of those you are required to answer 102 questions correctly.

More On:

-> Surgical Tech Certification

-> How to Become a Certified Surgical Tech?

Once certified, you’ll be well-prepared to excel in the operating room as an essential member of the surgical team.

So, we have tried to explain all the factors, and now we would like to leave it up to you to decide if a Surgical Tech School is challenging or fairly easy for you.

But the challenging times of a Surgical Tech are not over yet. Their job also involves certain challenges which they need to cope with all by themselves.

Let’s delve deeper –

A Day in the Life of a Surgical Tech  

Since most of the surgeries take place during the quiet hours usually in the early morning or late at night. The day of a Surgical Tech starts then. They assist surgical teams before, during, and after the surgery.

Here’s how their day goes –

  • The day often starts with setting up the operating room, ensuring it’s sterile and equipped with all necessary instruments and supplies.
  • They play a crucial role in the operating room, ensuring its readiness, assisting during surgery, and maintaining a sterile environment.
  • They are attentive to the needs of the surgical team, assist with patient care, and respond swiftly to emergencies.
  • Their responsibilities also include documentation, collaboration with healthcare professionals, and instrument sterilization.
  • Their working hours can vary, with some on regular shifts and others on-call for emergencies.
  • Overall, they are essential contributors to the healthcare system, enhancing safety, and efficiency in surgical procedures.

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How stressful it is being a Surgical Tech?

As a Surgical Tech, it can get highly stressful at times due to the fast nature of the job. But, the collaborative nature of work helps mitigate stress.

But during medical emergencies, there are moments of intense pressure. In those times, you need to maintain composure and focus on the patient. Since your attention to detail is crucial.

We all are not the same, and for some individuals witnessing surgeries and dealing with medical emergencies can be emotionally taxing, as well.

Especially if you encounter any challenging and emotionally charged situations in the OR. This overall can impact your emotional well-being.

To cope, self-care, including good nutrition, adequate rest, exercise, and leisure activities, is essential for maintaining mental and physical well-being in this demanding profession.

However, it’s essential to note that while the job can be stressful, it’s also incredibly rewarding. You play a vital role in helping patients receive the care they need, and your contributions contribute to the overall success of surgical procedures.


-> Surgical Tech Salary

-> Surgical Tech Requirements

-> How Long Does It Take to Become a Surgical Tech?

How Physically demanding is it to be a Surgical tech?  

pros and cons of Surgical Technologist

The physicality of the job is the same for almost all healthcare careers. Many Surgical Technologists work full-time, which typically means 40 hours per week.

They may work standard eight-hour shifts, Monday through Friday, or follow other schedules like working during nights, weekends, and holidays.

The task requires you to stand for extended periods during surgeries and may be required to lift and position patients. This physical aspect of the job can be challenging, and it’s essential to maintain good physical health. 

The number of hours that Surgical Technologists work in a week can vary based on several factors, including their specific job, employer, and work setting.

Read -> Pros And Cons Of Being A Surgical Tech

In Conclusion,

The surgical tech school presents its challenges, but with diligence and unwavering dedication, it’s entirely within your grasp. Your commitment will pave the way for your success.

The coursework and clinical rotations may require intense focus and relentless effort, yet they offer priceless opportunities for hands-on learning.

If you possess a genuine passion for healthcare and are ready to invest your time and energy, rest assured that you have the potential to thrive in surgical tech school. 


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About the Author
Grant founded 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.