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Sterile Supply Technician: Job Description and Education Requirements

A sterile supply technician is a medical equipment professional who sterilizes, prepares, and distributes instruments in a hospital or medical lab. A high school diploma and completion of a relevant training program may be needed to become a sterile supply technician.

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Job Description for Sterile Supply Technicians

Sterile supply technicians, also referred to as sterile processing or CSS (central sterile supply) technicians, are medical support workers who sterilize and prepare equipment and instruments, such as surgical tools. Would-be sterile supply technicians can find employment in hospitals, medial laboratories, and other facilities where sterilized equipment is needed.

These technicians must follow guidelines for sterilization exactly since most medical equipment must be completely decontaminated before use. Often, they also are responsible for maintaining necessary supply levels in sterile storage areas. Other day-to-day duties of sterile processing technicians can include:

  • Operating and monitoring steam autoclaves, sonic washers and other sterilizing equipment
  • Cleaning sterilizing equipment
  • Organizing surgical instrument trays
  • Recording sterilizer test results
  • Stocking and inventorying crash carts

Salary Information and Career Outlook

According to PayScale.com, the salary range for most sterile supply technicians was $20,408 - $41,852 per year as of July 2014. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the number of jobs for medical equipment preparers, including sterile supply technicians, was expected to increase approximately 20% between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than average.

Education Requirements

According to job postings found in December 2010 on Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED) was the only formal general education required for sterile supply technician jobs. However, many employers preferred to hire those who had completed a technician training course in CSS processing as well. These courses are available at vocational and community colleges and may take one year to complete.

Some employers also require would-be technicians to be certified by the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD), which offers certification exams for sterile processing technicians, supervisors, and managers (www.sterileprocessing.org). For technician certification, the test-taker must have either completed a relevant sterile processing technician training course or have 6-12 months' professional experience in the field.

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