Sterilization Technician Job Description
Sterilization technicians decontaminate items used in clinics and hospitals. They work on the front line in the battle against disease and infection. Even though they normally work behind the scenes, their job is critical to patient safety and care. Sterilization technicians get life-saving instruments to people performing medical procedures in a timely manner. Their responsibilities include assembling medical equipment, maintaining inventory, and ordering supplies. In the course of their work, technicians may be exposed to environmental elements such as chemicals, fumes, radiation, body fluids, and infectious diseases. Sterilization technicians provide much needed support to other healthcare professionals, and most work full time in medical facilities.
Sterilization Technician Duties and Responsibilities
While a sterilization technician’s day-to-day duties and responsibilities are determined by where they work, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:
The primary job of sterilization technicians is cleaning medical supplies, equipment, instruments, and instrument trays. They must follow standard precautions for decontamination. They monitor biological and chemical wash solutions that ensure consistent safety.
Operate Sterilization Equipment
Sterilization technicians test their sterilization equipment routinely to make sure that it’s running properly. They perform quality control checks and maintain equipment such as steam autoclaves. Once they have verified that the equipment is working, they operate their water sterilization tools according to established guidelines.
Restock Supplies and Maintain Inventories
Technicians perform equipment inventory and restock supplies when needed. They must maintain accurate sterilization records. They also stock supply closets and collect and distribute instruments, trays, carts, and other medical facility equipment.
Sort and Test Equipment
Sterilization technicians keep tools organized, sorting mismatched sets of instruments and making them available for physicians in a timely manner. Piece by piece, they verify that equipment functions properly. When equipment is found defective, they repair or replace it. Sterilization technicians perform daily and weekly infection control tests to ensure maximum sterility.
Service Advanced Disinfecting Equipment
Sterilization technicians may also prepare and package medical equipment for use in different department facilities. To prepare items for transport, they may use advanced tools like hydrogen peroxide sterilization systems and liquid-based disinfectors.
Sterilization Technician Skills and Qualifications
Sterilization technicians should be self-motivated, analytical people with great care for details. Employers seek candidates with a high school diploma and industry certification. The following skills are essential to getting the job done:
- Familiarity with sterilization techniques – technicians in sterilization must know proper techniques for decontaminating bacteria from tools and equipment
- Sanitization expertise – sterilization technicians clean and sanitize operating rooms, tables, and equipment to keep patients and staff safe
- Physical fitness – these technicians frequently stand for long periods of times, walk, and repeatedly reach overhead; they must also be able to move more than 50 pounds
- Critical thinking – carefully reading, interpreting, and following instructions at all times is required for a sterilization technician
- Motor skills – sterilization technicians need sufficient motor function to perform a variety of basic and advanced decontamination techniques
- Troubleshooting – when sterilization equipment malfunctions, technicians use their problem-solving skills to fix the problem
- Analytical thinking – technicians are responsible for reporting all mechanical defects as well as assembling and disassembling equipment
- Interpersonal skills – communicating appropriately using good interpersonal skills is essential for sterilization technicians
- Writing skills – sterilization technicians must update documentation and write legible reports
Tools of the Trade
Sterilization technicians use the following tools and equipment in a typical workday:
- Decontamination equipment (ultrasonic washers or dryers)
- Water decontamination units (water distillers)
- Steam sterilizers
Sterilization Technician Education and Training
It is common for sterilization technicians to have a high school diploma and certification as a Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) or Certified Sterile Processing and Distribution Technician (CBSPD). Most sterilization technicians receive some sort of on-the-job training. Industry credentials require coursework in life sciences, decontamination, storage, distribution, and inventory management.
Sterilization Technician Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary of medical equipment preparers (including sterilization technicians) is $37,060. The lowest 10 percent of earners make less than $24,600. The highest 10 percent of earners make more than $52,240. Most sterilization technicians who work full time receive additional benefits such as health insurance and paid vacation time.
There are many helpful resources out there for those interested in becoming a sterilization technician. Check out these links that are full of learning opportunities and the latest industry news:
International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management – this professional organization offers the Certified Registered Central Service Technician credential
Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution – CBSPD offers the Certified Sterile Processing and Distribution Technician credential
Sterile Compounding for Pharm Techs: Training and Review for Certification – an essential resource for aspiring pharmacy technicians, this book teaches readers the theories and concepts used by seasoned practitioners
Sterile Products and Aseptic Techniques for the Pharmacy Technician – this comprehensive book covers the complex practice of sterile product preparation with step-by-step instructions and color photographs
American Medical Technician – as an internationally renowned certification agency, AMT supports allied health professionals in their career growth
Concepts in Sterile Preparations and Aseptic Technique – learn the fundamentals and best practices for sterilization and aseptic techniques with this easy-to-understand guide geared toward new professionals
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