Healthcare Central Service Technology (HCST)

Begin a career in medical equipment and supply chain management as a central service or sterile processing technician. Central service technicians decontaminate and sterilize surgical instrumentation and complex medical equipment, prepare items for surgery, order and maintain hospital supplies, and provide service to hospital departments and patients.

The Healthcare Central Service Technology (HCST) program at Columbia Basin College (CBC) prepares students for an entry-level career in sterile processing and materiel management. Commonly referred to as sterile processing technicians, central service technicians perform decontamination and sterilization procedures required to ensure proper reprocessing of invasive therapeutic and diagnostic equipment, surgical instrumentation and medical supplies. Additional duties include assembly and inspection of surgical instruments, maintenance and delivery of patient equipment, inventory control and supply ordering, and preoperative case preparation.

The HCST program is a two-quarter program beginning in spring quarter and has a selective admission process. You must apply to the program. Applicants are screened according to timely coursework completion and grades completed through winter quarter. During the course of the program, enrolled students will gain extensive hands-on training and acquire 400 hours of applied technical experience in clinical settings. Upon successful completion of all certificate and program requirements, students will obtain a Healthcare Central Service Technology Short-Term Certificate.

All students interested in the HCST program are required to attend a free one-hour information session. At the session a counselor or program director will describe the program, the prerequisites, the application process and will answer questions afterwards. Please visit the Information Sessions webpage for upcoming sessions dates and times. Students, friends and family members are welcome and encouraged to attend any of these sessions.

Application Process

Applicants must be a CBC student before applying to this program. If you are not currently a CBC student, please go to the Apply for Admission page on the CBC website to enroll or request a paper application. You must also:

  • Attend a Healthcare Central Service Technology information session
  • Have a current placement test score that places them into: Math 40 or higher, English 98 or higher and Reading 99 or higher
  • Complete HSCI 147 Medical Terminology (5 credit) class with a minimum grade of 2.0 or enroll in HSCI 147 upon acceptance into the HCST program

Program Application
The application process for the Healthcare Central Service Technology (HCST) program is now open!! The last day to submit the application is February 26, 2021.  The program application and supporting documents must be scanned and emailed to HCST is a two-quarter program and is offered once a year. The program starts each spring quarter and is completed by the end of summer quarter.

Apply Today!

Applicants are required to include a copy of the following with the program application:

  • American Heart Association BLS Provider CPR card/certificate
  • Current First Aid card
  • One professional letter of reference

For the accepted student:
Before registration is completed by the Health Science Center staff, you will be asked to start a National Background check and drug screen with an approved third party company. Information from this will determine student eligibility to complete clinical coursework. Inability to complete a clinical rotation due to the information obtained from the background check or drug screen may make the student ineligible for the program. Students will be required to upload documentation of the required immunizations to the immunization tracker before being allowed to attend clinical. 

The cost to the student for the background check, drug screen and immunization tracker will be approximately $170.00.

National Background Search & Drug Screen Requirements

As part of the admission requirements for Health Science programs, applicants must successfully pass a criminal background check and drug screen prior to working with patients in clinical areas. The background check and drug screen are paid by the student and administered through a third party company, CastleBranch. In addition to the background check required by CBC, each clinical facility reserves the right to conduct its own criminal background check prior to allowing a student to enter its health care facilities for clinical participation.

Certain criminal convictions, pending charges or negative actions may automatically disqualify a person from having unsupervised access to vulnerable adults, juveniles and children. Clinical facilities reserve the right to accept or decline a  student’s placement in its facility.     

The healthcare industry is one of the largest employers in the United States. There are a variety of names for sterile processing technicians:

  • Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST)
  • Sterile processing and distribution technician
  • Sterilization technician
  • Sterile instrument technician
  • Medical instrument technician
  • Central sterile technician

After completing the HCST program, work can be found anywhere medical equipment is used, such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Dental surgery clinics
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Specialty care centers
  • Ambulatory surgery centers
  • Medical equipment processing facilities
  • GI endoscopy clinics
  • Medical supply and equipment distributors

With additional education and experience, graduates of the HCST program can work toward certification as a:

  • Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS)
  • Certified Endoscope Reprocessor (CER)
  • Certified Healthcare Leader (CHL)

Becoming a health care central service technologist provides a stepping-stone to other medical career opportunities, allowing you employment while furthering your education.  While employed as an HCST, you will experience various areas of medicine that may entice you to pursue other fields, such as Surgical Technology, Registered Nursing, Radiologic Technology, etc. Overall, one of the best ways to increase your pay as a HCST is to obtain additional education and certifications.


Health Science Center Richland