|Program Levels||Certificate programs|
|Field(s) of Study||Sterile processing|
|Prerequisites||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Program Length||1 year|
|Licensure/Certification||Voluntary certification available|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)*||14% growth (for medical equipment repairers)|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)**||$33,689 (for sterile processing technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
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 advance 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.
Applicants to these programs must have a high school diploma or GED. They must also be comfortable working in a healthcare environment and submit a recent physical examination record and immunization record. Most of these programs can be completed in one semester.
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Sterile Supply Technician Training Program
The curriculum included in a certificate program covers basic medical principles as well as practical sanitation procedures. Some specific course topics include:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Medical terminology
- Surgical microbiology
- Infection control
- Surgical instrumentation processing
- Surgical instrumentation distribution
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, and 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 14% or higher for medical equipment repairers over the 2014-2024 decade. While the BLS reports a median annual wage of $33,330 for all medical equipment preparers in May 2015, PayScale.com reported that sterile processing technicians earned a median annual wage of $33,689 in 2015.
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.
Those who aspire to work as sterile supply technicians can complete a certificate program in the field. These generally take a year to complete and can prepare students to work with surgical instruments in the health care field.