Sterile Supply Technician: Job Description and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a sterile supply technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties, and job growth outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

A sterile supply technician is tasked with distributing, and preparing medical instruments. They typically hold a high school diploma or its equivalent and participate in a training course, depending on their place of employment.

Essential Information

A sterile supply technician is a medical equipment professional who sterilizes, prepares, and distributes instruments in a hospital or medical lab. Some employers require that job candidates complete a 1-year training program, and even when not mandatory, this training could boost one's chances for employment. Some employers also seek sterile supply technicians who have earned professional certification by passing competency exams.

Required Education High school diploma or GED certificate; some employers require a sterile supply technician training course
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 14% for medical equipment preparers*
Median Salary (2016) $39,998**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com.

Job Description

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, medical 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 $$25,641 - $87,262 per year as of January 2016. 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 14% between 2014 and 2024, which was faster than average.

Education Requirements

According to job postings found in November 2014 on Monster.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 cam 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.

Sterile instrument technicians sterilize and maintain surgical instruments, usually in a hospital or clinic. A high school diploma may be sufficient to work as a sterile instrument technician, but some employers prefer to hire someone who have completed a short training course. Professional certification, obtained through experience and an exam, is a way to prove competency in this field.

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