Do you Need a Degree to Be a Sterilization Technician?

Sterilization and It’s Importance:

Sterilization refers to the process of freeing an object from all forms of life. Although the two words have slightly different meanings, it is often used interchangeably with disinfection- a term that refers to killing or removing all micro-organisms capable of causing infections.

Sterilization is an extremely crucial process in various fields, one of which is medicine. Here, equipment often needs to be reused and thus sterilized. This needs to be done comprehensively as any mistake in this process can cause severe infections to a patient, or even the physician in some cases.

What do Sterilization Technicians Do?

If you ever visit an operation theatre before a procedure, you will notice that the nurse brings in a carefully packaged set of operational instruments and arranges them on a table for the surgeon to use. These instruments have gone through a rigorous process of disinfection before making their way to a surgeon’s hands for use.

Before the sterilization process can be started, the instruments need to be rid of visible debris. This is not part of the sterilization process, but it is just as crucial as sterilization cannot take place without this step. The equipment needs to be brushed and cleaned with a special detergent. Any removable part needs to be separated and cleaned correctly. The instruments are then rinsed and send to get sterilized entirely.

Before the process, the equipment needs to be pre-sorted and packed according to its intended use. This makes sense as if this was done after the procedure the instruments would no longer be sterile. A machine called the ‘autoclave’ is used for disinfection. While the specific settings of the device vary from instrument to instrument, the basic concept is that high temperature and high-pressure steam is used to kill the micro-organisms.

This process is of paramount importance and is carried out in almost any decent hospital. As you can expect, skilled and adequately trained labour is required for this job as real lives are at stake. This qualified personnel are called ‘sterilization technicians.’ The technician’s job is to carry out this process with vigilance and caution and fix any issue that may occur before the instruments are sent for use. They are also responsible for the sterilization of the operating room, tables, etc.

How Much do Sterilization Techs Earn:

With the job market expected to expand by 20% form the year 2012 to 2020, sterilization tech is a steadily growing field. Given that one does not have to go through multiple years of education to get a qualification, it is a very well-paying job and a decent job.

The exact pay, as with other jobs, depends on where you work along with your level of experience and expertise. In general, sterilization technicians can expect to make between 25 thousand to 45 thousand dollars a year, with the average being close to 28 thousand dollars. Not only that, a technician with high ambitions and enough experience under his or her belt could even rise the ranks to a managerial position. Such a role could pay 75 thousand dollars or even more.

What Qualification is Required to be a Sterilization Technician?

Given the gravity of the role and the disastrous consequences that might result if the slightest of errors occurs, sterilization technicians need to be well-versed in what they are doing. The qualification process requires two terms of training.

The first term is about 40-45 hours long and deals with the theoretical knowledge you may need. This includes a brief overview of medical information about anatomy, physiology and microbiology. Other than that, courses more relevant to the job such as cleaning, disinfection, decontamination and surgical equipment storage are also taught.

The second term is about twice as long at roughly 80 hours. In this term, future technicians are expected to follow practising ones in a laboratory or hospital setting. This term is spent gaining a complete hands-on experience.

After the course is completed, technicians are expected to work in the sterile processing department (SPD for short) of a healthcare facility for a year. After this year of full-time work or the equivalent amount of part-time work, the technician can apply for official board certification. One such certification in the one provided by the CBSPD. (Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution)


A good sterilization technician is someone who is calculated, cautious and through. He/ she also needs to be good with handy work. Although these technicians do not directly interact with patients, they are critical to the hospital set up and to patient health and safety. The fact that you can make a difference in this regard is a bonus.

If these things sound interesting to you and if you think you possess the qualities mentioned above, this may be the perfect job for you.

Author Bio:

About Michelle Joe: Michelle Joe is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences, and express herself through her blogs. You can find her on twitter: @michellejoe524