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Sterilizing Technician Degrees by Degree Program Level

Learn about certificate programs that prepare students to work as sterilizing technicians. Find out about certificate program courses and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Sterilizing technicians, also known as central service technicians, work in the central sterile processing departments of hospitals, dentists' offices or other healthcare facilities. This busy hub of activity is where surgical instruments, such as scalpels or forceps, are sterilized using dry heat or chemicals. After sterilization, technicians test, package and distribute supplies for re-use by hospital staff.

Preparation for this field is offered solely via certificate programs, which can take 2-3 semesters to complete. In central services technician certificate programs, students prepare for job responsibilities, such as the operation of sterilization machinery and the sterile storage of medical equipment. Course topics range from microbiology to inventory management and decontamination methods.

Educational Prerequisites

Students applying to a sterilization technician program at a community college or vocational school will need a high school transcript or GED. Minimum ACT or SAT scores may also be required. However, some colleges offer students the option of taking an admissions test instead. Program entrants must also submit immunization records to receive a health clearance before beginning coursework or internship requirements.

Program Coursework

Students spend the same amount of time in the laboratory and in the classroom. Some programs also require that students complete clinical internships at hospitals. Possible course options may include the following:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Surgical technology
  • Patient care
  • Sterilization procedures
  • Health safety

Salary Info and Employment Outlook

Medical equipment preparers such as central supply or central service technicians earned a median annual wage of $30,820 in May of 2012 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment in this field is expected to increase by 17% from 2010 to 2020 with the majority of job opportunities occurring at dentist and physician offices or hospitals (www.bls.gov).

Continuing Education Information

After completing certificate requirements, students are prepared to pass respective certification exams. While certification for central service technicians is only required in New Jersey, certification credentials relay graduates' professionalism and field knowledge to future employers. Professional organizations granting certification include the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD). Graduates of a certificate program are qualified to take the board's multiple choice certification exam. The International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management also offers a certification examination to technicians who have logged 400 hours of work experience.

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