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
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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.
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.