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Sterile Processing School and College Program Information

Sterile processing technicians are medical staff members who make sure that all surgical tools are free of germs prior to use. The most common education programs for sterile processing technicians award a certificate of completion to graduates. Read on to learn more about these programs.

Sterile processing programs, sometimes called central sterile processing programs, are available at many 2-year colleges. They are typically offered at the certificate or the associate degree level, and a certificate of completion is sufficient for entry-level employment in the field.

Schools with Sterile Processing Degrees

The table below lists several schools that offer programs in either sterile processing or surgical technology, and both may prepare students for careers in the field.

College/University Location Institution Type Programs Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
City Colleges of Chicago Chicago, IL 2-year, Public Certificate & Associate $3,506 (in-district), $8,126 (in-state)
Owens Community College Perrysburg, OH 2-year, Public Certificate & Associate $4,233 (in-state)
Bunker Hill Community College Boston, MA 2-year, Public Certificate $3,576 (in-state)
Iowa Western Community College Council Bluffs, IA 2-year, Public Certificate & Associate $5,216 (in-state)
Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville, NC 2-year, Public Diploma & Associate $2,394 (in-state)
Anoka Technical College Anoka, MN 2-year, Public Certificate & Associate $5,584
Tunxis Community College Farmington, CT 2-year, Public Diploma $3,866 (in-state)
Montgomery College Rockville, MD 2-year, Public Associate $4,728 (in-district), $9,156 (in-state)
Berkeley College New York, NY 4-year, Private Certificate, Associate $24,300

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

College Selection Criteria

Voluntary certifications, such as those offered by the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution, Inc. and the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting, are available in the field. Some other important considerations when looking for a sterile processing training program include the following:

  • Students seeking the quickest path toward a career as a sterile technician may want to select a school that offers a certificate of completion in sterile processing.
  • Be aware that some schools offer a track for associate degree graduates to progress to the bachelor's level in nursing or a related medical field.
  • Sterile processing experience is important for finding employment in the field after graduation and many schools offer students the ability to complete internships or clinical rotations.
  • Schools that prepare students for voluntary certification examinations or to meet other certification requirements may make the certification process easier.

Certificate Programs

Sterile processing certificate programs instruct students on the skills to ensure that surgical equipment is in optimal condition before and during surgical procedures. Programs emphasize practical skills used in operating rooms and medical facilities, and many provide clinical experience opportunities to students. In their courses, students learn methods for cleaning, sterilizing, storing, inspecting and presenting equipment before and during surgeries.

Associate of Applied Science Programs

These two-year degree programs are commonly offered in sterile processing and surgical technology. Students learn how to assist in surgery and maintain surgical equipment, as well as how to perform other duties related to central sterile processing. Graduates serve as scrub technologists, operating room assistants and circulating technologists.

Students who are interested in careers preparing surgical equipment for surgery may earn a diploma, certificate or associate degree in sterile processing or surgical technology. Such programs may be found at universities around the country.

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