Birth technicians, also called OB or OB-GYN technicians, are surgical technologists who specialize in child birth and obstetrics. They're the people who clean instruments, prepare operating rooms for surgery and help administrative staff with clerical duties. They can work in hospitals, clinics or private practices. The requirements to become a birth technician are somewhat less daunting than many other health care job areas like nursing.
Birth technicians help doctors and surgeons care for patients during surgery, so they need a similar level of compassion and empathy to maintain good bedside manners. They need to have excellent listening and communication skills to understand instructions from doctors and nurses, communicate with patients and work as a team with other birth or surgical technicians. Birth technicians work long hours and, for many of these hours, they are on their feet. They also sometimes need to lift patients, with or without help from other staff, so this makes physical stamina an important quality for birth technicians.
Equipment and Operating Room Duties
One of the main duties of a birth technician is to make sure all the equipment in the operating room is stocked and ready for doctors to use. This means making sure there are enough supplies, including gauze, hypodermic needles and other disposable supplies, and making sure all the scalpels, clamps and other surgical tools are clean and sterilized. A birth technician may help patients get ready for surgery by dressing them in gowns and shaving and cleaning areas where doctors need to operate. After a birth or cesarean section, they clean the operating room and get it ready for the next patient. During birth, they hand tools to doctors and nurses and help other medical staff with their duties.
When there are no births or cesarean sections going on, birth technicians take on some of the more basic duties of nurses and orderlies. They move samples to and from labs, move patients to and from rooms and help nurses and doctors with whatever they need. When they're not in the operating room, they may deal with all kinds of patients, not just expectant and new mothers and their babies. Most birth technicians also have a good deal of clerical duties. They help keep records and logs, order supplies and input those orders in hospital computer systems.
At the very least, birth technicians need a high school diploma. Beyond this, the requirements for a job as a birth technician vary. Some doctor's offices and hospitals want birth technicians to be certified nursing assistants. This means that they need to go through training and licensing in their state. Other employers want you to have a certificate from a surgical technician training program. In either case, many employers prefer or require birth technicians to have a Basic Life Support certification from the American Heart Association, which certifies that you know how to perform CPR and a few other basic medical techniques.
2016 Salary Information for Surgical Technologists
Surgical technologists earned a median annual salary of $45,160 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, surgical technologists earned a 25th percentile salary of $36,980, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $55,030, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 107,700 people were employed in the U.S. as surgical technologists.
- Health Care Source: OB Technician
- Montefiore: OB Technician
- Health Care Source: OB Technician I
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Surgical Technologists
- American Heart Association: Basic Life Support
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Surgical Technologists
- Career Trend: Surgical Technologists
Jon Gjerde worked as a journalist in northern California where he covered topics ranging from city, county and tribal governments to alternative transportation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of California, Davis.