What is CSFA Certification? How to Get it (Req., Cost, Skills, FAQs)

The Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) is a credential that demonstrates that an individual possesses the skills and knowledge required to work as a surgical assistant.

The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) offers this certification.

CSFA is only one of the three certification options an individual must acquire to work as a surgical assistant in the United States.

The other two are the Certified Surgical Assistant (CSA) and the Surgical Assistant-Certified (SA-C), that is offered by the National Surgical Assistant Association (NSAA) and the American Board of Surgical Assistants (ABSA), respectively.

This post will discuss how to get a CSFA certification, the role of a surgical assistant, their average income, and the steps for becoming one.

Who is Surgical Assistant?

Surgical assistants are medical practitioners that carry out a series of healthcare duties.

Some of their responsibilities include; confirming if an operation will hold with the surgeon, choosing X-rays that will guide the surgeon, cheering patients before surgical operations, organizing surgical theatre, transferring patients from the ward to the theatre, and ensuring that the theatre is neat.

Additionally, surgical assistants ensure that all equipment is in place before the commencement of surgery, perform all disinfection operations, take notes of patients’ vital signs, and perform other functions.

Surgical assistants work directly under the directives of surgeons at the pre-surgical, surgical, and post-surgical phases of any operation.

Requirements for a CSFA Certification

To obtain a CSFA Certification as a graduate of a Surgical First Assistant program, you must present the following documents:

  • An official letter from the Program Director that contains details such as your name, graduation date, and type of degree awarded
  • Graduation certificate
  • Transcript

How to Apply for a CSFA Exam

You can apply for a CSFA exam on NBSTSA’s official website. On the other hand, NBSTSA also accepts mailed applications, but it takes time to process them.

Immediately after accepting your application, you will receive an Authorization to Test number (ATT) from NBSTSA and a phone number and web address to contact the testing agency.

What is the Cost of the CSFA Exam?

The CSFA exam costs $190 for AST members and $290 for non-members.

What is the Structure of the CSFA Certification Exam and Passing Score?

Questions that form the CSFA certification exam are based on the responsibilities of CSFAs.

This exam features 175 questions, of which 150 are used to determine the final score, and 25 are not scored but used for appraisals.

To pass the CSFA exam, you must correctly answer at least 97 out of the 150 scored questions of the exam. At the end of the exam, NBSTSA will send your score reports to you.

What is the Income of Surgical Assistants?

The average annual income of surgical assistants is about $81,000. Nevertheless, the salaries of these professionals vary according to experience, level of education, place of employment, and special skills.

How to Become a Surgical Assistant

Here are the steps for becoming a surgical assistant in the United States:

1. Pick an initial career path

It would be best to begin your venture into a surgical assistant career by working as a surgical technician, physician assistant, or even a registered nurse.

However, having a degree in any of these professions would be best. Completing your education with a GPA of not less than 3.0 is highly recommended.

2. Acquire relevant surgical experience

Once you complete a bachelor’s degree program, find a job that enables you to obtain relevant experience in surgical theatre.

This is important because, in most cases, up to three years of surgical theatre experience is required to enroll in specific surgical assisting programs.

3. Complete a surgical assisting program

A surgical program will enable you to develop your knowledge of microbiology, pharmacology, anesthesia, and other interconnected fields.

It takes an average of 16 months to complete a surgical assisting program.

However, to obtain a surgical assisting certificate, you must satisfy certain strict conditions, pass a physical exam, acquire a CPR credential, secure health insurance, take vaccinations, and pass a drug test.  

4. Obtain certification

You need a certification to work as a surgical assistant. As mentioned, the Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) is an example of such certification.

Other options are the Certified Surgical Assistant (CSA) and the Surgical Assistant-Certified (SA-C).

The Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) is valid for two years, after which you must go for recertification.

What is the Duration It Takes to Become a Surgical Assistant?

It may take five to six years to acquire the necessary education and training to become a surgical assistant.

Essential Skills for a Surgical Assistant

Here are the essential skills that a surgical assistant must possess to succeed:

1. Attention to detail

Surgical assistants must be detail-oriented to ensure they don’t make mistakes that will endanger patients.

Also, this skill enables them to perform several primary duties, such as observing patients’ vital signs and ensuring that surgeons use accurate X-rays and equipment.

2. Multitasking

Multitasking is a skill that every surgical assistant should have.

It enables them to perform different tasks simultaneously, both in and out of the surgical room, which allows operations to be effectively completed.

3. Communication

Surgical assistants must possess excellent oral and written communication skills to interact with their supervising surgeons and patients at wards effectively.

4. Technical knowledge

Surgical assistants must possess the ability to use medical equipment very well. It takes appreciable technical brilliance to read a patient’s vital signs, caaryoutCPR, and perform several other duties.

Where do Surgical Assistants work?

Most surgical assistants work at medical facilities where surgical operations are conducted. Some of them take up a job in trauma and emergency care centers.

You can also find surgical assistants in recovery rooms and Intensive Care Units of hospitals. A surgical assistant is a highly demanding profession.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on CSFA Certification

What are the responsibilities of a surgical assistant?

Surgical assistants help surgeons to perform duties such as placing clamps, creating incisions, and closing surgical spots.

How can I become a surgical assistant in Indiana?

To work as a surgical assistant in Indiana, you must obtain a certification showing you have completed an accredited program.

What is the difference between surgery and operation?

Surgery is doing away with, repairing, or changing human body parts. On the other hand, the operation is the technique through which a device carries out its purpose.

What is the average salary of a surgical assistant?

The average salary of a surgical assistant is about $86,000 per year.


The Certified Surgical First Assistant (CSFA) certification attests to a candidate’s mastery of the information and abilities essential for performing the duties of a surgical assistant.

This accreditation is provided by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA).

Three different certifications are available for surgical assistants in the United States, and CSFA is just one of them.

To become a successful Certified Surgical First Assistant, you must expand your expertise through higher education.

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Abasiofon Fidelis
Abasiofon Fidelis

Abasiofon Fidelis is a professional writer who loves to write about college life and college applications. He has been writing articles for over 3 years. He is the Content Manager at School and Travel.

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