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

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Grant Aldrich

In the fast-paced world of healthcare, Sterile Processing Technicians play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of medical procedures.

If you’re considering a career in this field, you may be wondering how long it takes to become a Sterile Processing Technician.

So, in this article, we’ll explore the various pathways to becoming a Sterile Processing Technician and the time each pathway takes, and recommend the best pathway to start your Sterile Processing Technician career faster.

Plus, we’ll also discuss about the potential next steps after you are done with your education.

So, keep reading –

Sterile Processing Technician Schools And Programs: The Different Options

If you’re considering a career as a Sterile Processing Technician, then there are 2 ways to achieve that. The first one is by gaining experience for a year or 2, and the second way is by enrolling in a Sterile Processing Technician school or program.

From what we have seen, the second route is the better one.  

For you to take the second route, you need to hold a High School Certificate, and that’s the basic education requisite. If you have that, you’re ready for a thrilling journey.

When it comes to choosing a program, aspiring Sterile Processing Technicians typically have three primary options:

1 Associate Degree program

2 Certificate Program

3 Online Sterile Processing Tech Program


-> What is a Sterile Processing Technician?

-> What Does a Sterile Processing Technician Do?

These programs are offered by various educational institutions such as community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes, universities, or online schools.

However, it’s crucial to prioritize programs accredited by reputable organizations like the CAAHEP or ABHES. Accreditation ensures quality education and enhances your credibility in the field.

During your training, you’ll undergo a comprehensive curriculum that combines classroom instruction with hands-on clinical training.

The duration of training varies depending on the program you choose, typically ranging from some months to 2 years.

To be precise, an Associate Degree program would take you 2 long years, a Certificate Program would take you 1 year, and an Online Sterile Processing Tech Program would take you 6 to 8 months to complete.

Regardless of the program length, getting certified is essential. The certified Sterile Processing Techs are highly valued by employers, as certification demonstrates proficiency and adherence to industry standards. 

Now, let’s discuss in depth about each option –

Associate Degree

An Associate of Applied Science Degree in Sterile Processing Technician is an undergraduate program typically offered by universities, community colleges, or technical schools. This degree program is designed to prepare students for a career as Sterile Processing Techs.

This degree provides a comprehensive education and practical training to prepare individuals for a rewarding career in Sterile Processing.

It equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to perform their duties effectively and ensure patient safety in the healthcare setting.

Course Overview

Course Credits60 – 66
Course Duration2 Years
Course Costs$10,000 to $40,000

Course Curricula

If you opt for an Associate Degree in Sterile Processing Technology, you’ll experience a well-rounded education combining theoretical learning with hands-on clinical practice. 

In the classroom, you’ll learn about:

  • Sterile Process/Infection Control
  • Sterile Processing Procedures
  • Assembly and Packaging
  • Decontamination 
  • Sterilization and Disinfection
  • Equipment, Storage, and Distribution
  • Quality Assurance and Certification Review
  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Mathematics, and so on.

Besides this, you’ll have the opportunity to apply your learning in real healthcare settings during clinical rotations, internships, or externships, gaining valuable hands-on experience under the guidance of experienced professionals.

Getting Certified

In healthcare, getting certified holds great value. Getting certified shows employers that you could be trusted to perform the duties & you have been tested by a nationally recognized body.

So, the purpose of your associate degree program is to prepare you for the nationally recognized certification exams.

To get certified as a Sterile Processing Technician, you need to clear a certification exam, and these are some of the most popular certification options –

1 – the CRCST certification by HSPA, Sterile Processing Technicians nationwide prefer this certification.

2 – the CSPDT certification by the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution.

3 – the CSPM certification by the CBSPD.

Once you get certified you are in a league of your own and then you can start exploring job opportunities.


-> Sterile Processing Technician Requirements

-> How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician?

Why it is Not Recommended?

When enrolling in an Associate Degree program aspiring individuals often encounter various challenges from financial burdens to traveling constraints. 

Here are some of the key challenges:

Expensive Price Tag

The cost of tuition for full-time, on-campus Sterile Processing Technician programs can be very expensive. They might range from $10,000 to $40,000, for a year.

This expensive price tag often leads students to rely on student loan debt, burdening them with financial obligations as they move ahead in their careers.

Imagine working hard for long hours only to give out a significant portion of your salary toward paying off the student debt. Not a pleasant sight to behold.

Associated Expenses

Beyond tuition fees, students must contend with additional expenses associated with attending on-campus programs. Costs such as transportation, food, parking permits, and accommodation can quickly add up over the duration of the program.

Moreover, in most part of the country there are not many decent full-time degree programs available, so students may be forced to relocate to pursue their education, and this further increases the financial strain.

Longer Course Duration

Completing a Sterile Processing Technician program, whether at a local community college or university, requires a significant time commitment. The associate degree would take 2 years to complete, while a baccalaureate degree program can extend up to 4 years.

This prolonged duration requires attending classes multiple times a week, submitting assignments, and preparing for numerous tests.

Additionally, full-time programs often include elective courses unrelated to the Sterile Processing Technician career, contributing to the longer course duration.

On-Campus Programs Are Not Adult-Friendly

If you have a job or responsibilities, balancing that and attending on-campus classes on a fixed schedule can pose significant challenges.

You might find it difficult to juggle your commitments alongside traditional classroom-based education.

Moreover, unexpected circumstances such as illness can disrupt attendance and delay academic progress, creating additional stress and frustration.

So these are the reasons an associate degree in Sterile Processing Technician is not recommended by the industry veterans.

Certificate Programs

The Sterile Processing Technician certificate programs are typically shorter and provide students with the essential knowledge and skills. If you want to start your career faster then this could be an excellent option. 

You get focused training and practical experience which can lead to a rewarding career.  

Course Overview

Course Credits36 – 44
Course Duration9 Months to 1 Years
Course Costs$1500 to $5,000

Course Curricula and Certification

The course curricula and certification options are same as that of an associate degree. The only difference is there are no electives so the course duration decreases significantly.

But, while choosing a certificate program ensure these things –

1 – It is from an accredited source

2 – It gives out a university certificate of completion

3 – The tuition cost is affordable

4 – It makes you ready for the certification

5 – It gives out an externship opportunity

Why it is Not Recommended?  

While certificate programs in Sterile Processing Technology can be a suitable choice for many individuals, there are instances where they may not be the most recommended option compared to online programs.

Here’s why:

Some are not Accredited

A significant drawback of some certificate programs is they are not accredited. Without proper accreditation, these programs may not meet industry standards or qualify graduates for certification exams. 

As a result, graduates may encounter difficulties in obtaining employment or advancing their careers in the field of sterile processing.

Limited Depth of Education

While certificate programs provide focused and streamlined education tailored to entry-level roles as Sterile Processing Technicians, they may lack the comprehensive knowledge and skills offered by online or associate degree programs. 

These alternative pathways often provide a more extensive educational foundation, enhancing career prospects and opportunities for growth.

Career Advancement

For those aspiring to advance their careers in healthcare, such as moving into supervisory roles or pursuing further education, a certificate program may not provide the necessary academic foundation or opportunities for advancement. 

Online or associate degree programs offer a broader range of coursework and credentials, better positioning graduates for career growth and development.

Not so Flexible 

Certificate programs often have more rigid schedules, making it challenging for students to balance their studies with other responsibilities.

In contrast, online programs offer the flexibility to study at one’s own pace and on a personalized schedule, accommodating individuals who need to juggle work, family, or other commitments.

So these are the reasons a certificate program is not recommended.

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Online Programs

Young woman in glasses working at home, sitting on couch using laptop computer. Freelancing, training, education, remote work, leisure, internet online technology applications apps concept

Online training programs are widely recognized for their flexibility, affordability, and accessibility, making them an appealing option for students.

However, it’s crucial to conduct thorough research on program accreditation, clinical requirements, and experience opportunities before enrolling.

Moreover, students should also ensure they have access to the necessary technology and resources for online learning, including a computer with internet access and the ability to attend clinical training in person.

Course Overview

Course Duration6 to 8 Months  
Course Costs$1,000 to $3,000

Course curricula and certification

The course curricula and certification options are same as that of an associate degree. The key here is to look for certain things like –

1 – They are 100% online, self-paced, and is from an accredited source

2 – You get a university certificate of completion

3 – The tuition cost is affordable

4 – You are ready for the certification exam

5 – You get an externship placement close to where you live  

6 – It finishes in less than 6 months

Why it is Recommended?

Online Sterile Processing Technician programs are highly recommended for several reasons. Firstly, they are often more affordable compared to traditional on-campus programs, making them accessible to a wider range of individuals.

Secondly, online programs offer unparalleled flexibility and convenience, allowing students to study at their own pace and schedule, which is especially beneficial for those with busy lifestyles or existing commitments.

Third, online Sterile Processing Technician programs typically have shorter durations, often completed in less than six months. This accelerated timeline enables students to enter the workforce and start their careers sooner.

However, it’s crucial to ensure that the online program is from an accredited source to guarantee quality education and recognition in the field.

Furthermore, reputable online Sterile Processing Technician programs provide students with university certification upon completion, adding credibility to their qualifications.

Additionally, some programs offer externship placement opportunities, allowing students to gain valuable hands-on experience in real-world healthcare settings, which is essential for career readiness and skill development.

Also Read:

-> Sterile Processing Technician Training Course

-> Sterile Processing Technician Program

-> Sterile Processing Technician Certificate Program Online

-> Sterile Processing Technician Training Program Cost

Is there any program like that?

Now, you could be wondering, does there exist any program like this that gives out all the things that we have mentioned?

Well, there exists one such program – Preppy’s Sterile Processing Technician Certification Training Program.

With Our Sterile Processing Technician Certification Training Program, you get –

  • 100% online, self-paced program from an accredited source
  • A non-profit 150-year-old reputed Auburn University certificate
  • An externship placement close to where you live  
  • You get ready for the nationally recognized certification exams  
  • The tuition cost is affordable under $2000
  • It finishes in less than 6 months

So, if you want all of these features in a single program and want to start your career faster, then check out Preppy’s Sterile Processing Technician Certification Training Program.

Next Steps After Completing The Formal Training

After completing the formal training in Sterile Processing Technology, there are several crucial next steps to take to kickstart your career in the field.


Following your training, gaining hands-on experience through an externship or clinical placement is invaluable for further honing your skills and familiarizing yourself with real-world sterile processing environments.

Many accredited Sterile Processing Technician programs offer externship opportunities as part of their curriculum, but if your program doesn’t include this component, you may need to seek out externship opportunities independently.

During your externship, you’ll have the opportunity to apply the theoretical knowledge and practical skills gained during your training in a supervised clinical setting, working alongside experienced Sterile Processing Technicians and healthcare professionals.


After completing your training and gaining some real-world experience, it’s time to get certified as a Sterile Processing Technician.

While certification may not be mandatory in all states, it significantly enhances your credentials and increases your competitiveness in the job market.

The most widely recognized certification for Sterile Processing Technicians is the Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) credential, offered by the HSPA, or the CSPDT certification, offered by the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution.

To obtain certification, you’ll need to pass a comprehensive exam that tests your knowledge of sterile processing procedures, infection control, and other essential topics.  

Also Read:

-> CRCST Certification

-> CSPDT Certification

-> Certified Sterile Processing Technician

-> Sterile Processing Technician Certification

Job Search

With your certification and externship experience in hand, you’re now ready to embark on your job search as a certified Sterile Processing Technician.

Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your certification, training, and relevant experience, emphasizing your commitment to maintaining sterile environments and ensuring patient safety. Be proactive in seeking out job opportunities and follow up diligently on any leads or inquiries.

Begin by exploring job openings in hospitals, surgical centers, clinics, and other healthcare facilities in your area. Utilize online job boards, professional networking sites, and industry-specific job portals to identify potential opportunities.

By following these essential next steps after completing your training in Sterile Processing Technology, you’ll position yourself for success in the field and lay the foundation for a fulfilling and rewarding career as a certified Sterile Processing Technician.


I hope this article enlightens you about the various pathways to becoming a Sterile Processing Technician, the time each pathway takes, and the recommended pathway to start your career faster.

Consider the next steps after you finish your training program, and the best thing would be to search for an online program that takes care of your next steps as well, like the externship, certification, cover letters, resumes, and so on.

If you want to enroll in such a program then here’s Preppy’s Sterile Processing Technician Certification Training Program. 

Do check it out! 


-> Sterile Processing Technician Exam

-> Travel Sterile Processing Technician

-> Sterile Processing Technician vs. Surgical Technologist

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Grant Aldrich

Preppy was founded by higher education expert, Grant Aldrich, who’s work on college affordability and accessibility has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader’s Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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