Female manager in mask and sterile clothes

How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician

Learn about the duties and requirements of a Sterile Processing Technician, as well as their training, salaries, and job outlook.

Female manager in mask and sterile clothes

Do you like the idea of maintaining lifesaving equipment? In the medical field, Sterile Processing Technicians perform an invaluable service by repairing a range of electronic, electromechanical, and hydraulic equipment that’s used in hospitals and other medical settings. If you’re interested in healthcare and medical equipment, then a career as a Sterile Processing Technician could be your ideal path.

Our career guide will teach you everything you need to know about becoming a Sterile Processing Technician, including the educational requirements, certifications, and daily tasks. We will also cover how long it generally takes you to launch into this new career.

Not sure if becoming a Sterile Processing Technician is right for you? Click here to see more careers highlighted on our list of the 12 best entry-level medical jobs.

Sterile Processing Technician Definition

What Is a Sterile Processing Technician?

In the operating room, Sterile Processing Technicians play a crucial role in the health and safety of surgical patients. Sterile Processing Technicians, also known as Medical Equipment Preparers, are devoted to maintaining a clean surgical environment by inspecting, cataloging, and sterilizing all surgical instruments and equipment.

Sterile Processing Technician: Job Description

What Does a Sterile Processing Technician Do?

Everyday tasks for Sterile Processing Technicians include overseeing the proper technique used during the decontamination and sterilization process of surgical equipment. If problems arise or errors occur, they will report to the surgeon and be tasked with finding replacements. They may also test and calibrate medical equipment, perform preventive maintenance and service, keep records of maintenance and repairs, and more.

Sterile Processing Technician Duties

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of Sterile Processing Technicians include:

  • Installing medical equipment
  • Testing and calibrating equipment
  • Repairing or replacing parts
  • Performing preventive maintenance
  • Maintaining records of maintenance
  • Reviewing technical manuals and consistently attending training sessions
  • Explaining how to operate medical equipment
  • Managing replacement of medical equipment

Sterile Processing Technician Skills

Most Sterile Processing Technicians possess excellent mechanical skills. They also excel at time management, are communicative, have great dexterity, and can troubleshoot in the field. In addition, Surgical Technologists are known for their integrity and physical stamina. They enjoy working on equipment in hospitals or similar settings.

Sterile Processing Technician Hours & Work Environment

The majority of Sterile Processing Technicians work 40 hours per week. If they work as contractors, they will likely have to travel to perform necessary repairs. Sterile Processing Technicians may also be exposed to germs, diseases, and other health risks. Because it’s urgent to repair vital medical equipment, this work can be stressful. It may require heavy lifting or working in tight spaces as well. However, it is a rewarding job that provides an invaluable service.

Sterile Processing Technician Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become a Sterile Processing Technician?

What Degree Do You Need to be a Sterile Processing Technician?

Aspiring Sterile Processing Technicians typically need to acquire a diploma or an associate degree in biomedical technology or engineering. At Brookline College, you can obtain a Sterile Processing diploma in as little as 42 weeks. Although certification isn’t always a requirement, it can be highly beneficial to acquire a credential.

Like any worthwhile goal, a career as a Sterile Processing Technician will seem more attainable if it is broken down into individual steps.

Medical technician examining equipment

Here’s a step-by-step guide to the education, experience, and certifications you’ll need to become a Sterile Processing Technician:

1. Enroll in a Sterile Processing Technician Diploma Program

While some employers might require a degree, many Sterile Processing Technicians can start this path with a Sterile Processing diploma that can be earned in as little as 42 weeks. You will only need to provide proof of a high school diploma or GED and a passing grade on the Scholastic Level Exam.

2. Obtain Certification with a Major Professional Organization

Once you have earned your diploma, seeking additional certifications would be highly beneficial. Enhance your job and career prospects by pursuing certification with organizations like the below:

3. Seek Employment as a Sterile Processing Technician

Once you’ve completed a formal program and obtained certification, it’s time to seek employment as a Sterile Processing Technician. You could ask your college’s career services team for assistance—they often help graduates look for open positions—or start applying to jobs on websites like Indeed or LinkedIn.

How Much Does It Cost to Earn a Sterile Processing Technician Diploma?

While some schools might charge $20,000 or more per semester for tuition, keep in mind that this amount doesn’t always include necessities like books, lab fees, etc. However, other schools offer cheaper tuition costs or better financing options. When researching each school, remember to look for accredited institutions that volunteer their tuition rates and additional fees for your education.

Sterile Processing Technician Salary

How Much Do Sterile Processing Technicians Make?

According to BLS data, Sterile Processing Technicians average a salary of around $42,000 annually, which equals about $20.00 in hourly pay. Sterile Processing Technicians working in professional and commercial equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers tend to get paid the most. The top 10% of earners in the field bring home an average of nearly $60,000 annually.

Highest Paying Industries for Sterile Processing Technicians

According to the BLS, these are the top-paying industries for Sterile Processing Technicians:

Industry Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Professional and Commercial Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers $25.87 $53,800
Local Government, Excluding Schools and Hospitals $23.13 $48,110
Specialty Hospitals, Excluding Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Ones $23.10 $48,040
Outpatient Care Centers $22.96 $47,760
Employment Services $22.68 $47,160

Highest Paying States for Sterile Processing Technicians

State Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
California $26.89 $55,930
District of Columbia $26.48 $55,070
Alaska $24.18 $50,290
Hawaii $23.91 $49,740
Massachusetts $23.73 $49,360

Highest Paying Cities for Sterile Processing Technicians

City Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
San Jose, California $32.80 $68,230
San Francisco, California $32.29 $67,170
Santa Rosa, California $31.80 $66,150
Vallejo, California $31.56 $65,640
Sacramento, California $30.85 $64,160
Modesto, California $29.15 $60,630
Redding, California $28.26 $58,770
Napa, California $27.81 $57,850
Oxnard, California $26.94 $56,040
Barnstable Town, Massachusetts $26.10 $54,290

Healthcare worker touching medical symbols

What is the Job Outlook for Sterile Processing Technicians?

The BLS projects employment of Sterile Processing Technicians to grow 17% by 2031, more than triple the rate at which most jobs are growing. With the aging population and the prevalence of chronic diseases, the demand for medical care and equipment will increase.

Start Your Dream Career as a Sterile Processing Technician

If you have an insatiable desire to help others, becoming a Sterile Processing Technician can be a very satisfying career path for you. Learn more about the Sterile Processing Technician Program at Brookline College and get started on the road to a rewarding career.