Operating Room Jobs Opportunities | How & When to Apply

Operating Room Jobs Opportunities provide exciting and rewarding career opportunities for those interested in the medical field. As a highly skilled profession, OR jobs require extensive training and certification but offer good salaries, job security, and the chance to make a difference in people’s lives.

Some key questions those interested in OR careers should consider include:

  • What are the main operating room jobs?
  • What degrees and certifications are required to work in an operating room?
  • What skills are most important for OR job success?
  • What is the job outlook and salary range for operating room careers?
  • How can I get experience working in an operating room?
  • What are the typical duties and responsibilities of surgical techs?
  • What is the difference between scrub techs and circulating nurses?
  • How stressful is the operating room environment?
  • What are the pros and cons of working in an operating room?
  • How competitive is it to get hired for OR positions?

How to Apply for Operating Room Jobs Opportunities

Here are some tips for applying for jobs in the operating room:

  • Identify roles you’re interested in and qualified for. Common OR jobs include surgical technologist, circulating nurse, surgical assistant, anesthesiology technician, etc.
  • Ensure you meet the minimum requirements in terms of education, certification, and experience for the jobs you want to apply for. Most OR roles require formal training.
  • Familiarize yourself with the hiring process for OR roles at the hospitals or facilities where you want to work at. Larger hospitals may require extensive applications, assessments, and interviews.
  • Highlight any prior OR experience you have on your resume through clinical rotations, volunteering, shadowing, or other exposure. This experience is highly valued.
  • Obtain reference letters from supervisors, instructors, or OR staff that can speak to your abilities and interest in surgery.
  • Seek out and apply to new grad programs or residencies offered by hospitals to start your OR career. These selective programs provide extensive training.
  • Once job openings are posted, submit applications promptly and ensure you follow all instructions demonstrated. Attention to detail is key.
  • Prepare for technical interviews and hands-on skills assessments related to surgery, equipment, and processes. Studying can help you excel.
  • Get certified in areas like BLS or as a Surgical Technologist (CST) to make yourself a stronger applicant.
  • Highlight your adaptability, critical thinking, collaboration, and commitment to patient care during interviews.

With preparation and persistence, you can obtain that coveted first job in the OR!

Where can I apply for Operating Room Job Opportunities?

Here are some of the top places to look for open positions in operating room jobs:

  • Hospital career webpages – Most hospitals have an online careers section where they post available OR job openings. This includes major hospital systems like HCA, Sutter Health, Dignity Health, etc.
  • Job boards – Websites like Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, etc. allow you to search “operating room” jobs in your desired location. Lots of OR opportunities are posted here.
  • Professional associations – Organizations like the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN) or the Association of Surgical Technologists (AST) have job boards.
  • Surgical recruitment firms – Staffing agencies and recruiters like Soliant Health, Aureus Medical Group, and Outcome Search focus specifically on OR hiring.
  • Training program job boards – Many surgical tech and nursing programs have job boards to connect graduates to OR opportunities.
  • University healthcare centers – Large university hospitals and medical centers often have extensive surgery departments and OR jobs.
  • Government job sites – Look for OR roles at state, county, or military hospitals listed on sites like USAJobs.
  • Networking – Talk to your personal connections and professional contacts about possible OR opportunities.
  • Directly contacting hospitals – Don’t be afraid to reach out to local hospital HR departments to inquire about OR job openings.

Casting a wide net and being persistent in your search is key to landing that first OR position! Reach out to contacts at your desired hospitals as well.

What are the main operating room jobs?

There are several main operating room jobs including:

  • Surgeon – Performs surgical procedures, and oversees the OR team. Requires medical degree and residency training.
  • Surgical Technologist – Prepares the OR for surgery, and assists during procedures. Requires associate’s degree or certificate. Also called “scrub techs”.
  • Surgical/OR Nurse – Provides patient care before, during, and after surgery. Requires RN degree and OR nursing certification. May serve as a “circulator” during surgery.
  • Anesthesiologist – Administers and monitors anesthesia during surgery. Requires medical degree and residency training.
  • OR Assistant – Provides support with tasks like transporting patients and preparing instruments. Requires on-the-job training.

What degrees and certifications are required to work in an operating room?

The main educational and certification requirements for OR jobs include:

  • Surgeon – Medical degree (MD or DO), state medical license, board certification in surgery
  • Surgical Technologist – Associate degree or certificate in surgical technology, certified surgical technologist (CST) credential
  • OR Nurse – Registered nurse (RN) degree, certified OR nurse (CNOR) credential
  • Anesthesiologist – Medical degree, state medical license, board certification in anesthesiology
  • OR Assistant – High school diploma or GED, on-the-job training

Some operating room roles may require additional certifications like Basic Life Support (BLS) or Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).

Overall, proper degree programs and certifications are critical for establishing credibility and gaining employment in OR settings.

Most Important Skills for Operating Room Job Success?

Essential skills and abilities for succeeding in operating room careers include:

  • Communication skills – Clear communication is crucial for the high-stakes OR environment.
  • Teamwork – OR staff must collaborate closely and effectively.
  • Technical skills – Knowledge of surgical instruments and technologies.
  • Attention to detail – Strong observational skills and precision are very important.
  • Stamina – OR staff must stand for long periods.
  • Critical thinking – Ability to quickly analyze and respond to changing situations.
  • Stress management – The OR setting can be intensely stressful.
  • Infection control – Strictly adhering to sterilization procedures is a must.
  • Time management – OR staff must work efficiently to keep surgeries on schedule.

Cultivating these abilities through coursework and on-the-job experience is key for OR job performance and advancement.

What is the job outlook and salary range for operating room careers?

The job outlook is very good for most operating room careers due to factors like an aging population needing more surgery.

Here are salary ranges and growth projections:

  • Surgeon – $208,000 average salary; 7% 10-year job growth
  • Surgical Technologist – $47,300 average salary; 9% growth
  • OR Nurse – $73,000 average salary; 9% growth
  • Anesthesiologist – $271,440 average salary; 3% growth
  • OR Assistant – $28,800 average salary; 7% growth

While salaries can vary by factors like location and experience, operating room jobs tend to pay very competitively and offer long-term job security.

The projected growth suggests these will continue to be in-demand medical careers.

How can I get experience working in an operating room?

Getting hands-on OR experience is extremely helpful before applying for surgical jobs. Options include:

  • Clinical rotations during surgical tech or nursing degree programs
  • Volunteering or observation programs at hospitals
  • Entry-level hospital jobs like transporter or nursing assistant
  • Surgical technologist internships or apprenticeships
  • Applying for open OR assistant positions
  • Shadowing a surgeon, tech, or nurse you know

Building connections within the OR community can help you get a foot in the door. Be proactive in seeking ways to directly observe and participate in the operating room. This experience can give you an edge in landing your first OR job.

What are the typical duties and responsibilities of surgical techs?

Surgical techs, or scrub techs, play a vital role during surgeries. Typical duties include:

  • Preparing the OR by stocking supplies, sterilizing equipment, and setting up tools
  • Assisting doctors during procedures by passing instruments, operating equipment like lights or suction, holding retractors, sponging blood, cutting sutures
  • Maintaining sterility throughout surgeries
  • Providing additional assistance with tasks like transferring or positioning patients
  • Inventorying and ordering supplies needed for surgical cases
  • Ensuring OR facilities and tools meet safety standards
  • Teaching new surgical techs through formal programs or on-the-job training

Strong attention to detail, organization, and infection control practices are crucial for succeeding as a surgical technologist. It is a fast-paced role with a lot of responsibility.

What is the difference between scrub techs and circulating nurses?

Though they work closely together, there are some key differences between scrub techs and circulating OR nurses:

  • Scrub Tech – Focuses on preparing the sterile field, passing instruments during surgery, maintaining sterility
  • Circulating Nurse – Coordinates care and communicates between surgery team and family, documents procedures, oversees safety
  • Positioning – The scrub tech stands in the field with surgeons, and the circulating nurse moves around the OR
  • Education – Scrub tech certificates, circulating nurses have RN degree
  • Scope – Scrub tech handles surgical instruments only, nurse provides broader patient care
  • Certification – Scrub techs have CST credentials, nurses have CNOR

While roles overlap, the circulating nurse takes on more coordination, documentation, and whole-patient care duties. Both provide critical support to ensure safe and successful surgeries.

How stressful is the operating room environment?

Working in an operating room can be highly stressful for several reasons:

  • Fast-paced, intense surgeries requiring extended focus
  • High-stakes situations involving life-or-death outcomes
  • Emergency cases add uncertainty and urgency
  • Complex technology requires expertise to avoid errors
  • Physically demanding tasks requiring standing and precision
  • Interpersonal challenges dealing with diverse surgery teams
  • Strict safety standards requiring vigilance and protocols
  • Emotional stress in handling surgical complications or poor outcomes

Strong coping mechanisms are needed to manage the pressure. Support from colleagues, proper self-care, and a balanced life outside work are important. While extremely rewarding, OR careers do involve managing higher stress than many fields.

What are the pros and cons of working in an operating room?


  • Meaningful work saving lives and improving health
  • An active work environment with a variety of tasks
  • Cutting-edge medical technology utilization
  • Prestige and respect as highly skilled roles
  • Strong job security and career advancement potential
  • Above-average salaries with financial stability
  • Team-oriented approach to complex procedures
  • Opportunity to continuously expand medical knowledge


  • Dealing with stressful life-and-death situations
  • On your feet for extended periods
  • Potential for exposure to communicable diseases
  • High pressure to avoid any errors
  • Fast-paced setting requiring intense focus
  • Long or irregular hours may be required
  • Work-life balance can be difficult
  • Emotionally and mentally taxing responsibilities

How competitive is it to get hired for OR positions?

The operating room job market is quite competitive. Factors making it challenging to get hired include:

  • Extensive education/experience requirements
  • Only a set number of residency slots for surgeons
  • Certifications like CNOR may be required for nurses
  • Limited entry-level job openings
  • Desirable positions attract many applicants
  • Better opportunities at major hospitals or urban settings
  • Specialized experience is a major advantage
  • Strong references and connections are highly beneficial
  • Interviews and skills assessments may be extensive

Standing out takes a stellar education record, getting hands-on OR experience, pursuing specialty certifications, networking, excelling in interviews, and patience/persistence in applying.

Competition is intense but opportunities do exist, especially for those fully prepared.

What is the role of an operating room assistant?

Here’s an overview of the typical duties and responsibilities of an operating room (OR) Assistant:

  • Transporting patients – Bringing patients to and from the preoperative and postoperative areas.
  • Positioning patients – Helping position and drape patients on the operating table before surgery.
  • Retrieving supplies – Finding and passing requested supplies like sutures, fluids, and instruments during procedures.
  • Sterilizing equipment – Cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing OR instruments and devices before and after surgery.
  • Stocking the OR – Organizing, replenishing, and counting supplies needed in the operating room.
  • Performing counts – Counting surgical items like instruments and sponges before and after surgery.
  • Assisting surgical team – Anticipating the needs of nurses, techs, and doctors during procedures.
  • Prepping operating rooms – Disinfecting surfaces, making beds, and preparing rooms between cases.
  • Running errands – Picking up specimens, delivering blood from the lab, transporting machine repairs.
  • Managing equipment – Ensuring proper functioning and restocking of anesthetic gases and machines.
  • Following protocols – Adhering to safety, infection control, and confidentiality policies.

The role provides broad OR experience supporting nurses, technicians, and surgeons. Attention to detail and organization are essential skills.

Different Types of Operating Room Job Opportunities

There are several different types of operating rooms, equipped for specific surgical specialties and procedures:

  • General Surgery – For procedures like appendectomies, hernia repairs, and colon resections. Often have a wide range of basic surgical tools and equipment available.
  • Cardiovascular/Thoracic – Contains specialized equipment like heart-lung machines for open-heart procedures and surgeries within the chest cavity.
  • Neurosurgery – Used for brain and nervous system procedures. Has microscopes, neuronavigation systems, and specialized instruments.
  • Orthopedic – Contains tools for procedures involving the musculoskeletal system and joints like drills, saws, and traction equipment.
  • Trauma/Emergency – Fully stocked for unplanned critical surgeries with a wide array of surgical instruments available.
  • Labor and Delivery – Equipped for cesarean sections and other OBGYN procedures like lights for vaginal procedures.
  • Ophthalmic – Used for eye surgeries. Has highly specialized microsurgical instruments like delicate scalpels and lasers.
  • Robotic/Minimally Invasive – Contains robotic surgery systems and tools for laparoscopic and endoscopic techniques.
  • Hybrid OR – Specially designed to accommodate both open and minimally invasive surgical techniques.

The design and capabilities of ORs can vary greatly depending on the surgical specialty.

Key Takeaways

  • Operating room careers require extensive training but offer good salaries and rewarding work
  • Surgeons, surgical technologists, nurses, anesthesiologists, and assistants make up the OR team
  • Degree programs and certifications like CNOR are essential for OR jobs
  • Strong communication, teamwork, and attention to detail are vital skills
  • OR careers offer good job growth and competitive salaries over $70k on average
  • Getting hands-on OR experience can help you get hired more easily
  • Competition is intense but opportunities exist, especially for top candidates


  • Operating room careers provide the chance to participate in life-changing, lifesaving work.
  • Highly skilled OR professionals must train extensively but are rewarded with good compensation and job security.
  • While challenging, OR jobs offer the chance to continuously expand medical knowledge and make a profound difference through expert surgical care.
  • With thorough qualifications and experience, motivated individuals can excel in the fast-paced, highly technical operating room environment.
  • For those able to meet the demands, operating room careers deliver immense personal and professional rewards.


What types of surgeries do operating room staff perform?

OR personnel may participate in a wide range of surgeries including general, orthopedic, cardiac, neurologic, oral, plastic reconstructive, transplant, trauma, cancer removal, childbirth/gynecologic, ophthalmologic, vascular, robotic procedures, and many more.

How long are operating room shifts?

Shift lengths vary, but OR nurses and technologists frequently work 10 to 12-hour shifts. Surgeons may work even longer hours doing operations, making rounds, and managing patients.

Is working in the operating room boring?

No, OR jobs are far from boring! The fast-paced, high-stakes environment keeps staff fully engaged. There are always new pieces of technology, surgical techniques, and patient cases to learn as well.

What qualities make someone a good operating room nurse?

Excellent OR nurses display compassion, critical thinking, communication skills, attention to detail, technical aptitude, teamwork, and the ability to perform under pressure. Passion for surgery nursing is key.

Do you need to be board-certified to work in an operating room?

Board certification is required for surgeons and anesthesiologists. Surgical technologists and nurses are not required to be board-certified but optional certifications like CNOR can improve hiring prospects and earnings.

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