Schools for Aspiring Central Sterile Processing Technicians

Across the U.S., community and technical colleges offer central sterile processing technician certificate programs. Graduates of central sterile processing technician certificate programs may continue their education through associate degree programs in surgical technology or bachelor's degree programs in health sciences.

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Central sterile processing technicians decontaminate, prepare and store surgical supplies. Graduates who want to become Certified Registered Central Service Technicians are prepared to sit for the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM) certification exam; certification can prove proficiency to potential employers.

10 Sterile Processing Technician Schools

Sterile processing technician programs are offered at the institutions listed here.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition* (2015-2016)
Baker College of Flint Flint, MI 4-year, primarily associate's, private not-for-profit Certificate, Associate's Undergraduate $8,640
Baker College of Muskegon Muskegon, MI 4-year, primarily associate's, private not-for-profit Certificate, Associate's $8,640
Western Technical College La Crosse, WI 2-year, public Certificate, Associate's In-state $3,779; Out-of-state $6,050
Chippewa Valley Technical College Eau Claire, WI 2-year, public Certificate In-state $4,159; Out-of-state $6,085
Minneapolis Community and Technical College Minneapolis, MN 2-year, public Certificate Undergraduate $5,366
College of DuPage Glen Ellyn, IL 2-year, public Certificate, Associate's In-district $5,275; In-state $10,885; Out-of-state $12,985
Massachusetts Bay Community College Wellesley Hills, MA 2-year, public Certificate In-state $4,496; Out-of-state $9,440
Fayetteville Technical Community College Fayetteville, NC 2-year, public Certificate In-state $2,394; Out-of-state $8,538
Greenville Technical College Greenville, SC 2-year, public Certificate In-district $4,224; In-state $4,584; Out-of-state $8,448
Waukesha County Technical College Pewaukee, WI 2-year, public Certificate, Associate's In-state $4,250; Out-of-state $6,078

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

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School Selection Criteria

There are a number of things to keep in mind when choosing a program in this field.

  • Programs that provide professional development, such as internships and preparation courses, can help students prepare for the work environment; students may also look for programs that offer practical experience in the sterilization departments of hospitals.
  • Courses in professional and interpersonal communication skills can be beneficial after graduation because they include instruction in interviewing techniques, professional attitude and resume development.
  • Individuals can look for programs that place an emphasis on preparing students for the IAHCSMM certification exam.
  • The role of sterile technicians is crucial for maintaining a safe, clean environment for surgery, so students may want to ensure that programs include courses in microbiology and infection control and because technicians are required to package sterilized instruments, prospective students may consider programs that offer courses in instrument identification and inventory techniques.

Central Sterile Processing Technician Certificate

The length of certificate programs can vary from 36 hours to three quarters. Students can find programs that help them prepare for the IAHCSMM exam through studies in legal issues, basic sciences and equipment management. Clinical experiences are typically included.

Associate of Applied Science in Surgical Technology

Surgical technologists, similar to sterile technicians, help to sterilize medical equipment in addition to setting up the surgical room, holding sterile supplies and passing instruments to surgeons. Graduates are prepared to take national exams given by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) to become certified.

Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences

In some cases, associate degrees in surgical technology can be transferred to a health sciences bachelor's degree program. Some programs are aimed at the working professional and are offered online or part-time. Health sciences programs can prepare students for administrative positions or for career advancement. Students in these programs may be required to complete a senior capstone project.

Programs that prepare individuals for a career sterilizing surgical supplies can be found at the undergraduate level in many postsecondary institutions. It's possible to complete a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in sterile processing, surgical technology or health sciences; all will provide the academic instruction needed to pursue a career in this field.

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