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What Kind of Education Do I Need to Be a Sterile Tech?

Have you considered a career as a sterile tech? This role is essential in any healthcare environment; sterile techs are critical to defending patients and the entire healthcare environment from all types of germs. Are you wondering whether this role is right for you? It may be helpful to learn about the educational requirements for this position.


The first step is to enroll in a sterile processing technician program. These programs provide students with the background necessary to succeed in this role. This type of program will cover various topics, including an overview of the role, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, infection control, decontamination procedures, preparation, packaging, instrumentation, sterilization, storage, inventory control, and distribution.

This breaks down into various specifics, including the critical steps to sterilize instrumentation and equipment as well as understanding microbiology and infection control as it pertains to sterile processing and decontamination procedures. The coursework is the foundation students need to go into hands-on training and eventually to a career in this field.

Hands-on Training

In addition to learning the theory behind all of this, people who are studying to be sterile processing techs also gain hands-on experience. This is important because it puts the theory into practice, and it prepares students to work in the field. During this portion of their training, students continue their studies by working in the clinical setting for a required 400-hour clinical internship.

There are specific requirements for the 400 hours. A certain number of hours is required in each of six separate areas of experience: decontamination, preparing and packaging instruments, sterilization and disinfection, storage and distribution, quality assurance processes, and equipment. In this way, students go beyond the theory; they learn what the role is like on a day-to-day basis.


Certification is required in New Jersey, and New York and Pennsylvania are considering it; it’s voluntary in other states. However, even in states that don’t require certification, many hospitals and surgical centers prefer to hire certified sterile processing techs. Certification indicates that a sterile tech meets or exceeds a standard of excellence set forth by the certifying organization, and that can mean a lot when a sterile tech is looking for a job.

In this field, two separate organizations offer certification exams: the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD) or the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM). Some sterile techs obtain certification through both organizations.

Are You Considering a Career as a Sterile Tech?

At 365 Healthcare Staffing Services, we specialize in the recruitment and placement of healthcare professionals in per diem, travel, and permanent assignments in healthcare facilities across the country. Sterile techs are essential members of any healthcare environment. We value sterile techs, and we’ll be here to help when you’re ready for your next assignment. Call us at 310.436.3650.