How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician?

How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician?

Dec 31, 2014 | 11:00 am

For many years, the sterile processing technician was literally invisible. It seems these team members were not respected and often scapegoats for any breach of sterile processing, no matter if it was their fault or not.

With a much more serious attitude about post-operative infections, there has been a real change in the attention turned toward the central sterile processing professional. The education process for this professional has definitely changed.

Over the years, on the job training seemed to be sufficient, and the skill was just passed down from one generation of wisdom to another. However, it has been discovered that a huge need for rationale would change the mindset of these individuals from being mere robots to actual team players that play an incredible role in the patient outcome.

Progression of Education

For the longest time, AORN (Association of Operating Room Nurses) was the governing body of everything surgical. During the 1970’s, certification was developed by International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materials Management. With a push for higher education in this profession, online classes, definitive programs and continuing education have all evolved through those dedicated professionals in the field. Sterilizing instruments for surgical procedures is a detail-oriented task that should not be performed by improperly trained individuals. It is all done in an environment of compassion and peerless care for patients who never know the name of the central service professional who provided the sterile environment contributing to their recovery.


It is imperative to check out tuition reimbursement from hospitals’ benefits. Many hospitals will allow tuition reimbursement up to $1,200.00 per semester, or more. If a person could get hired with a hospital, even in a housekeeping, or clerical position, opportunities to move up will be available. Usually, in compliance with hospital statements, supervisors are encouraging employees who want to climb the ladder. Because healthcare holds advancement in high regard, it will be easier for a student to gain momentum in this profession with some financial help and support on the job.

Currently, many colleges offer at least certification/diploma programs for central sterile processing technicians, and some offer associate’s degrees. More states are requiring these credentials in order for people to work in sterile processing arenas. As the older generation of central sterile processing techs advance toward retirement, they too are being required to get formal training or at least maintain certification in order to maintain employment.

The degreed college programs require normal academic prerequisites for these programs like English, College Math, Microbiology, Chemistry, Speech and possibly statistics and critical thinking. Clinical in real settings are also required.

Often times, the individual’s testing is conducted through “practical” testing with actual autoclaves and other equipment that is used in the sterile processing department.

Many of the older methods of sterilization have changed. So, the seasoned professionals who have been in the workforce for years have to progress to the newer methods. They are definitely at an advantage over new people with the wisdom of alternative approaches to sterilization.

Job Description

When considering becoming a central sterile processing tech, one must do research into the job description. It would be great if a connection could be made with a person who works in an area like this and some time spent on the job would be quite intriguing. Sterile processing is heavy work. Instrument pans filled with heavy instruments are to be picked up and moved several times during the whole process. Machines are temperamental and have to be learned for just the right touch. Biological spores must be incubated and checked for bacterial growth. Autoclaves must be cleaned regularly. There is a huge amount of documentation because every instrument must be sterile every time, for every patient. And, the central sterile processing technician has the laborious duty to prove it.