Operating Room Jobs That Do Not Require a Degree or Experience

Updated on February 7, 2020
k@ri profile image

Kari is a retired operating room registered nurse. Although she is retired, the interest never waned. She loves all things OR related

All people in the OR are required to wear personal protective equipment.
All people in the OR are required to wear personal protective equipment. | Source

Want to Work in the OR?

You want to be part of the excitement and thrill that comes from working in an operating room, but you are not a registered nurse. Do not worry, roles are available for people who are not RNs. Roles are also available for people without degrees or certification.

The roles for unlicensed individuals vary. Surgery needs housekeepers, transporters, supply specialists, runners and turn-over teams. All of these roles can be filled by people who are not registered nurses.

All OR jobs require some training, which is usually provided during the orientation period. The amount of training differs with the job description.

When you work in the operating room, you learn very specific skills: skills that only people who work in surgery have. This makes you more valuable.

No Degree Required

The following jobs require a high school diploma or GED. Experience is always preferred, as with any job. But, everyone needs to start learning someplace. If you are hard-working and self-motivated, you should check out these jobs. There is often opportunity for advancement within the facility. We will take a quick look at housekeepers, assistants, and central sterile supply techs.

Depending on the needs of the facility, the roles may be blurred. Housekeepers may also need to do tech duties. Central sterile supply techs may need to help open the supplies to prepare for an upcoming case. Aides and assistants may have the most varied roles, covering many different duties.

Although these jobs do not require a degree, they will require some homework. There is so much to learn and never enough time to learn it in.

All of these positions have a potential for advancement within the operating room. One way to advance is through certifications.

1. Housekeepers In The Operating Room

Housekeepers in the OR require an orientation even if they had previous cleaning experience. There are many specific cleaning rules that must be followed to ensure a safe operating room for patients. Housekeepers clean the operating rooms in between surgeries. They also perform terminal cleaning of each operating room following the directions in the policy and procedure.

In addition to sanitizing the operating rooms, housekeepers will keep public spaces clean and safe. Office areas, lounges and locker rooms are some more areas housekeepers keep clean in the OR.

Housekeepers may be required to do other activities, such as holding an arm or leg while the nurse preps (washes) it with antimicrobial solution. Opening sterile supplies may be a part of the housekeeping role. In the operating room, it is expected that everyone will help out with anything they can.

Previous cleaning experience is a plus. You will need to learn several chemicals if you do not have experience. (This means there will be homework.)

2. Operating Room Assistant

This job can be called by many different titles. OR Assistant, OR Aide, Perioperative Services Technician all are operating room assistants. OR assistants are responsible for many activities.

  • Transporter - transports patients from their rooms to the OR and back again when surgery and recovery are over.
  • Supply Aide - responsible for ordering and restocking supplies.
  • Runner - helps the circulating room nurse by bringing necessary items to the operating room. May also transport specimen and lab items.
  • Positioning Assistant-helps the nurse position the patient
  • Anesthesia Tech-helps restock anesthesia carts or brings anesthesia provider items.
  • Turn over help - opens sterile supplies, assembles needed equipment to help prepare the operating room. After surgery is complete, helps to remove dirty supplies and help clean the room to prepare it for another surgery.

Most job descriptions include a clause to do other various jobs as needed.

Many of these jobs require a high school diploma or GED, medical terminology, and CPR certification. Prior experience is often listed as preferred, which means it is not required.

3. Central Sterile Processing Department Technicians

Central Sterile Processing Department (CSPD) takes care of all the washing, disinfecting, sterilizing and storing of the surgical instruments. In many facilities, they pick the sterile supplies for each surgery.

This is a busy job with fine finger skills and attention to detail required. Also needed is a good memory. The ability to read and write, and add and subtract, is necessary, as are basic computer skills. Teamwork and good communication skills are required in all operating room jobs.

Central sterile supply techs often do not need any previous experience. This job holds the potential for advancement and certification.

This is a familiar sight if you are a central sterile processing technician.
This is a familiar sight if you are a central sterile processing technician.

Three Ways to Increase Your Chance of Being Hired

1. Learn Medical Terminology.

You need to learn medical terminology to understand what is being discussed in the OR. Managers will be impressed that you took the time to learn this. It cuts down on what they need to teach you in orientation.

Even if you never work in an operating room, medical terminology is handy to have in several other jobs. Medical transcriptionists, medical assistants, and medical secretaries all require medical terminology.

2. Get CPR Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification

Learning CPR is a win whether you need it for work or not. You will know what to do when emergencies happen. CPR is the Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation portion of what is learned. You also learn how to recognize a stroke and heart attack. Additionally you learn to do the Heimlich Maneuver when someone is choking. Call your local fire station or hospital to ask about classes open to the public.

3. Focus on what you can do.

Bring up your excellent communication skills. Talk about how you are a team player. Try to recall specific examples of a time when you helped people communicate effectively and/or a time you were a team player. Be enthusiastic about working in the operating room. Listen well. Show your confidence. You can do this!

You should learn CPR
You should learn CPR | Source

The Right Attitude

Attitude and passion counts for a lot in the operating room. You can teach anyone to do a good job, but if they do not have the right attitude, why bother. It is easier to teach a self motivated, enthusiastic learner, able to follow directions and work independently than someone with experience who is lazy.

Your attitude is shown everyday to the world. It affects how you treat others. That is why the best attitude is positive. Be positive in your speech. Be confident in how you carry yourself. Show that you are open to instruction and that you can listen.

They All Say, “Experience Preferred"

Every single business prefers experience. Notice that if is says “preferred” instead of “required” it means that a beginner may have a chance. Operating rooms have to train every person they hire. The training time is called an orientation period.

Why you are more likely to get a job in the OR if you are a beginner? Everyone has to go through an orientation period to learn the specialized knowledge required to work in surgery. Even experienced people have orientation periods to learn how a specific OR works. The additional training it will take may be a minimal add-on.

Location Matters

Usually smaller facilities, not in large cities, are willing to take someone without experience. Sometimes, there is just no one available in the area with experience.

That is not to say a larger OR, in a larger city, would not hire someone without experience. If it does not list experience as "required", instead saying it is "preferred," than the position is a good one to investigate.

At 0:44 you can see housekeepers or aides working

Medical Terminology

Quick Medical Terminology: A Self-Teaching Guide
Quick Medical Terminology: A Self-Teaching Guide
There are many good books available on-line that will teach you medical terminology. I looked through several different products before I found this one. This book is very similar to the workbook I used to learn medical terminology. The main complaint people had about this book was that it was too easy. I think that bodes well for beginners.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2020 Kari Poulsen


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    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      3 months ago from Ohio

      Thanks, Mitara. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • MitaraN profile image

      Mitara N 

      3 months ago from South Africa

      A real eye opener

      What an insightful and brilliant article,

      Thank you for sharing

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      4 months ago from Ohio

      Nell, most people do not realize that ORs will train people. Thanks!

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      4 months ago from Ohio

      Peggy, it's that hands-on training that is an advantage for non-licensed people. We always started people in the same area, central sterile.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 months ago from England

      How interesting! I would never have though that there would be jobs within the hospital Operating rooms without qualifications. This is great advice. Shared.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      There is a lot of hands-on training to work in the OR, even as a registered nurse. The place I worked, they started all new OR nurses in the area where the instruments were sterilized. It was the perfect place to learn the names of all the instruments. That information is invaluable once assisting a surgeon at the OR table.

      This is good information for people to know who may not have degrees but wish to work in the medical field, specifically, the operating room.

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      5 months ago from Ohio

      Thank you, Dora! I hope more people become interested now that they know they do not need experience. If you like it, the OR is the best place to be.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 months ago from The Caribbean

      Very helpful, Kari. A person who is interested has all their questions answered. Even someone who never considered it might become interested after reading your article. Good job!

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      5 months ago from Ohio

      People often overlook OR jobs because they do not have experience or a degree. But not all jobs require these things. But, one must be an enthusiastic learner. Thanks Linda!

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      5 months ago from Ohio

      FlourishAnyway, These individuals are necessary for an OR to run smoothly. Thanks for reading.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an informative article, Kari. I knew that the jobs that you've described needed to be performed, but I didn't know about the different careers that people could choose.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 months ago from USA

      I’m glad you highlighted people who often hold roles that seem “invisible,” sadly. They help it all run smoothly.

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      5 months ago from Ohio

      Thank you Bill! I'll tell you what nurses thank God for. All the others who help hold the whole works together.

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      5 months ago from Ohio

      Eric, I believe the people behind the scenes make a huge difference. Even though many don't think of them when they think OR.

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      5 months ago from Ohio

      It is easy to look up online. They are listed in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Thanks for stopping by Doris!

    • k@ri profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari Poulsen 

      5 months ago from Ohio

      Pam, there are more than people think. Everyone knows about the doctors and nurses, but the others are nameless but indispensable cogs in the wheel of the OR.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      No, I do not want to work in an operating room LOL but thank God people do, and thank God there are those who are caring and compassionate. Let's just sum this up: thank God for nurses!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank the good lord for giving us these people. Dad surgeon, mom and sister and nephew all qualifed with the degrees in the area. To a one they sing the praises of those that make it all work.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      5 months ago from Beautiful South

      That is very interesting to know. As a youngster, I had no interest in the medical field, but as a single mom, this information might have caused me to change my path. It would be interesting to know the salary ranges, but today it probably is easy to look that up online.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      5 months ago from Sunny Florida

      As a RN i spent some time in the OR but never really worked there. There are more jobs for people without some type of medical degree than I would have guessed.


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