Sterile Processing Technician

Begin a career in medical equipment and supply chain management as a sterile processing technician. Sterile processing 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 Sterile Processing Technician (SPT) program at Columbia Basin College (CBC) prepares students for an entry-level career in sterile processing and materiel management. Sterile processing 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 SPT 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 Sterile Processing Technician Short-Term Certificate.

The application process for the Sterile Processing Technician program will begin in September of each year for a program start for the following winter quarter. For example, the application will be available in September 2023 for a program start winter quarter 2024.

Please see the Application Process tab on this webpage for information regarding program requirements. This tab is also where the program application will be posted each year.

All students interested in the SPT program are required to attend a free one-hour information session. At the session a counselor or program representative will describe the program, the prerequisites, the application process and will answer questions afterwards.

Information sessions are open to anyone interested in a CBC Health Sciences program.

To view upcoming information sessions and register, please check our events calendar.

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 Sterile Processing Technician information session
  • Have a current placement test score that places them into Math 40 or higher, Reading 99 or higher and ENGL& 101 or ABE 90. Transcripts from CBC or another college or university showing these courses have been fulfilled is also accepted.
  • Complete HSCI 147 Medical Terminology (5 credit) class with a minimum grade of 2.0 or enroll in HSCI 147 upon acceptance into Sterile Processing program

Program Application
The next opportunity to apply to the Sterile Processing Technician (SPT) program will be in September 2024 for a winter quarter 2025 start. There will be instructions on how to  to submit an application when the 2025 application is available.

The Sterile Processing Technician program is a two-quarter program and is offered once a year. The program will start each winter quarter and is completed by the end of spring quarter.

Applicants are required to include a copy of the following when applying:

  • 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.

Professional Licensure Outside of Washington State

Each state, the District of Columbia and the U.S. protectorates vary in what professions they require to be licensed and the educational requirements for those licenses. It’s important to understand whether the degree or certificate you obtain from CBC will meet the educational eligibility requirements for a license in the state in which you plan to practice.

View educational licensure requirements by state.


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 SPT 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 SPT program can work toward certification as a:

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

Becoming a sterile processing technician provides a stepping-stone to other medical career opportunities, allowing you employment while furthering your education.  While employed as an SPT, 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 SPT is to obtain additional education and certifications.

Program Learning Outcomes for the Sterile Processing Technician Certificate

Program learning outcomes are the knowledge, skills, and abilities that students will achieve before they graduate. The outcomes below were developed by the faculty in Sterile Processing Technician with input from accrediting bodies, advisory committees, employers, etc. This collaboration ensures that the outcomes are relevant for careers that this degree leads to.

Students who graduate with a Sterile Processing Technician certificate will be able to:

  1. Relate knowledge of biological sciences and infectious processes to safe patient care 
  2. Evaluate problems in the sterile processing environment and synthesize solutions through critical thinking 
  3. Identify the collaborative role of the sterile processing technician across a spectrum of healthcare settings 
  4. Apply principles of infection control and prevention to effective processing of instruments, equipment, and supplies 
  5. Operate medical device reprocessing equipment according to industry standards and recommended practices 
  6. Apply safety protocols and recommended standards of practice for the sterile processing profession 
  7. Provide excellent customer service by anticipating the needs of a diverse healthcare team 
  8. Communicate effectively with team members and sterile processing customers  
  9. Provide accurate and consistent documentation according to standards, recommendations, and guidelines for professional practice  
  10. Demonstrate professional performance in attitude and personal conduct


Health Science Center Richland