Sterile processing Technician: Pathways, Salary, Skills, Opportunities

Sterile Processing Technician Career Guide

1. Career Path for Sterile Processing Technicians: A Step-by-Step Guide

Sterile processing technicians are responsible for decontaminating, sterilizing, and distributing medical equipment and supplies in healthcare facilities. The typical career path involves the following steps:

Sterile processing Technician

  1. Earn a high school diploma or GED.
  2. Complete a sterile processing technician program, which can be a certificate, diploma, or associate's degree program.
  3. Gain hands-on experience through an internship or entry-level job in a healthcare facility.
  4. Obtain certification from an organization like the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD) or the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM).
  5. Explore opportunities for advancement, such as lead technician, supervisor, or educator roles.
  6. Consider specializing in a specific area, such as instrument repair or surgical instrument processing.

2. Qualifications for Becoming a Sterile Processing Technician: Education and Skills Required


  • High school diploma or GED
  • Completion of a sterile processing technician program (certificate, diploma, or associate's degree)

Essential Skills:

  • Attention to detail and ability to follow precise procedures
  • Knowledge of sterilization techniques and infection control protocols
  • Proficiency in operating sterilization equipment and instruments
  • Strong organizational and time management skills
  • Physical stamina for standing and lifting equipment
  • Excellent communication and teamwork abilities

3. Sterile Processing Technician Salary Trends: What to Expect in This Career

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for sterile processing technicians was $38,770 in 2021. However, salaries can vary based on factors such as experience, education, industry, and geographic location. Generally, sterile processing technicians working in larger healthcare facilities or in specialized roles tend to earn higher salaries.

4. Top Books for Aspiring Sterile Processing Technicians: Resources to Get Started

  1. "Sterile Processing for Pharmacy Technicians" by Cara L. Jordan and Lisa R. Miller (Link)
  2. "Sterile Processing Technician" by Tammy Golden (Link)
  3. "The Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD) Technician Textbook" by CBSPD (Link)
  4. "Decontamination in Hospitals and Healthcare" by Woodhead Publishing Series in Biomedicine (Link)

5. Essential Syllabus and Topics for Sterile Processing Technicians: What You Need to Learn

A typical sterile processing technician program or curriculum may cover the following topics:

  • Fundamentals of microbiology and infection control
  • Decontamination and cleaning processes
  • Sterilization methods (steam, ethylene oxide, and other techniques)
  • Packaging and storage of sterile supplies
  • Inventory management and distribution systems
  • Quality assurance and regulatory compliance
  • Instrumentation and equipment handling
  • Safety protocols and personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Communication and documentation procedures

6. How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician: A Comprehensive Guide

For detailed information on becoming a sterile processing technician, you can refer to the following resources:

7. Best Sterile Processing Technician Programs, Certifications, and Colleges: Where to Study

  • Certificate and diploma programs in sterile processing are offered at community colleges and vocational schools, such as Purdue University Global (Link) and Guilford Technical Community College (Link).
  • Associate's degree programs in surgical technology or health science with a focus on sterile processing are available at institutions like Keiser University (Link) and Herzing University (Link).
  • The Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD) offers the Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) certification (Link).
  • The International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM) provides the Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) certification (Link).

8. Applying for Jobs as a Sterile Processing Technician: Tips and Strategies to Get Hired

  • Highlight your sterile processing education and any relevant coursework or clinical experience in your resume.
  • Obtain certification from a recognized organization like the CBSPD or IAHCSMM to demonstrate your knowledge and commitment to the field.
  • Develop a strong network within the healthcare industry by attending job fairs, joining professional organizations, and connecting with professionals on LinkedIn.
  • Tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific job requirements and emphasize your attention to detail, organizational skills, and ability to follow protocols.
  • Be prepared to undergo background checks and drug screenings, as many healthcare facilities have strict hiring policies.
  • Consider starting in entry-level positions or internships to gain practical experience before pursuing more advanced roles.

By following these steps and utilizing the provided resources, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to pursue a rewarding career as a sterile processing technician.