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 begins in July of each year for a program start that fall quarter. 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, English 98 or higher and Reading 99 or higher. 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 July 2023 for a fall quarter start.  The Sterile Processing Technician program is a two-quarter program and is offered once a year. The program starts each fall quarter and is completed by the end of winter 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.


Health Science Center Richland