How Much Does It Cost to Become a Surgical Tech? Programs & Certification

Becoming a surgical tech means you get to spend your day working in the operating room, learning from the surgeon, helping others, and earning a decent salary. Most healthcare organizations prefer to hire certified surgical technologists and many states require certification.

But how much do surgical tech programs and certification cost?

Surgical tech programs cost anywhere from $4,000 to $25,000, depending on the type of program you choose. The most popular certification exams cost $190 (CST) and $199 (TS-C).

This guide will go over how much it costs to become a surgical tech, including the cost of a training program, exam fees, certification costs, recertification costs, and more. 

How Much Surgical Tech Programs Cost

There are a few different types of scrub tech programs to choose from. The cost typically varies based on the type of program you choose and whether or not it results in a degree. 

Cost of Online Surgical Tech Training Programs

Online surgical tech training programs are typically the least expensive of all the options and can be completed the fastest. 

Typically, these programs will include several months of online instruction combined with several months of an externship. 

The least expensive online scrub tech training programs cost around $4,000. However, be cautious when looking at inexpensive online programs, because not all of them are accredited or accepted in all states. 

Cost of Surgical Tech Certificate Program from a Community College

Certificate programs offer in-person courses and can be completed in 12 months to 2 years. 

Certificate programs that are accredited should cover everything you need to know about working as a surgical technologist and prepare you to pass a certification exam. 

The cost of surgical tech certificate programs varies widely and ranges between $4,000 and $25,000. 

For example, tuition for the certificate program at Indiana University Health is $4,200 while Lassell University is $23,040. 

Cost of Surgical Tech Associate Degree Programs

An associate degree program will include more than just surgical technician courses. Earning an associate degree includes general credits such as language, writing, social sciences, and creative arts. 

Tuition for a surgical tech associate degree program is more expensive than earning a certificate only. For example, an associate degree from Berkley College costs up to $38,000. 

Deciding Which Surgical Tech Program Makes the Most Financial Sense for You

Choosing a training program is one of the most important decisions you will make as you begin working towards becoming a surgical tech. Each type of program has benefits and drawbacks, but some make more financial sense than others.  

You may be tempted to pay higher tuition and earn an associate degree, but that option does not always make the most sense. Most employers do not expect surgical technicians to earn an associate degree and are only concerned about whether or not a candidate has a certification. 

Online programs typically offer the most bang for your buck. Online programs are the least expensive, can be completed the fastest, and result in the same certification as college and degree programs. 

Make sure that you do your research on different programs and choose one that is accredited, has high certification passing rates, and will work well for your schedule. 

Cost of Surgical Tech Certifications

Now, let’s take a look at how much surgical tech certifications cost:

Cost of the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) Certification from NBSTSA

The initial cost of the CST exam is $190 for Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) members and $290 for non-members.

Recertification costs $25 every 2 years. 

If your certification expires, you will have to recertify by exam, and the cost is $299 for AST members and $399 for nonmembers. 

Cost of the Tech In Surgery – Certified (TS-C) Certification from NCCT

The initial cost for the TS-C exam is $199. To recertify, candidates have to pay $77 each year and complete 14 continuing education credits.

Paying for Surgical Tech Schooling or Training

No matter which type of surgical tech training program you choose, you’ll have to find a way to pay for it. Even the least expensive options for surgical tech training require some planning and preparation. 

Fortunately, there are many resources available for paying for your education. Let’s take a look:


Scholarships are one of the best ways to pay for schooling because they don’t need to be repaid. You don’t always need the best grades or to be a star athlete to qualify, either.

You can find scholarships for all types of people, including ones for specific career interests, genders, ethnicities, and much more. 

If you commit enough time to searching, you may be able to find multiple small scholarships to pay for your education.


Grants are like scholarships in that you get money to put toward your education that doesn’t have to be repaid.

One of the most popular grants is the Pell Grant which is given by the federal government to those with financial need.

Getting a Pell Grant requires you to fill out an application and be caught up on filing taxes. Until you turn 25, both your income and the income of your parent(s)/guardian(s) will be considered to determine your eligibility for financial aid. 

When you apply, you will need to make sure that you or your parents have filed taxes for the previous year. You will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and then you will receive an offer with the details of your loan and grant eligibility. 

The FAFSA is always due around April 15 by midnight Central time. For priority consideration, submit the FAFSA by May 1.

You will need to respond to accept the grant and decide how much—if any—loan money you would like. 

Student Loans 

There are two types of student loans: federal and private.

Federal student loans typically have lower interest rates, more repayment plans, and the potential for student loan forgiveness.

‍Private student loans from banks or other lenders have stricter eligibility requirements, higher interest rates, and fewer repayment options. 

Make sure you read the terms of any loan closely and understand the repayment plan, interest rates, and fees.


Saving for college is a great option if you can get started early. Avoiding loans and planning for your future can save you a lot of money on interest payments. 

Employer Sponsorship 

Some employers offer tuition reimbursement for employees who agree to remain at their jobs for a specified amount of time. Companies may agree to pay for part or all of a team member's education.

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