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Sterile Supply Technician Training and Education Program Overviews

A central sterile supply and processing technician stocks and sterilizes the supplies used in operating rooms during surgeries. Individuals aspiring to the profession can enroll in a Central Sterile Processing Technician Certificate program at a technical or community college. Read on to learn what these programs teach and get information on employment options, including salary prospects.

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Essential Information

While many sterile processing and supply technicians receive on-the-job training, some choose to attend an educational program to give them an additional credential and advantage in the job market. A Central Sterile Processing Technician Certificate program provides students with the training necessary to gain certification from the National Institute for the Certification of Healthcare Sterile Processing and Distribution.

Students enrolled in a sterile processing technician program first learn about medical terminology and the basic operations and procedures performed in a surgical environment. They also learn the importance of safety and sanitation and procedures used for surgical instruments and supplies. Practical, clinical components of such certificate programs put students directly in the field, where they learn how to take inventory of supplies, order new supplies, sanitize and prepare equipment, follow direct orders and communicate with other medical professionals. Most programs can be completed in one semester.

Education Prerequisites

Students interested in earning a certificate in the field of sterile processing and distribution should have either a high school diploma or GED. They should also be comfortable working in a healthcare environment, and should submit a recent physical examination record and immunization record.

Program Coursework

The curriculum included in a certificate program covers basic medical principles as well as practical sanitation procedures. Some specific course topics are listed below:

  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Surgical microbiology
  • Infection control
  • Surgical instrumentation processing
  • Surgical instrumentation distribution
  • Surgical instrumentation inventory
  • Sterilization
  • Decontamination
  • Sterile processing clinical practicum

Popular Career Options

There are a few different positions available in surgical operating rooms for graduates of a sterile processing certificate program. Some of these include:

  • Sterile supply technician
  • Operating room workroom coordinator
  • Sterile processing manager
  • Sterile processing and distribution technician

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Sterile supply technicians are grouped with other medical equipment preparers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects about average growth of 17% for medical equipment preparers over the 2010-2020 decade (www.bls.gov). While the BLS reported a median annual wage of $30,820 for all medical equipment preparers in May 2012, PayScale.com reported that sterile processing technicians earned a median annual wage of $28,161 in 2013.

Certification Options

The Certifying Board of Surgical Processing and Distribution (CBSPD) offers voluntary certification for surgical supply and processing technicians. To gain eligibility to sit for a certifying exam, an individual must have two years of professional experience. The CBSPD also offers certification for managers and supervisors of sterile processing technicians.

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