Sterile services technician

A sterile services technician


Sterile services technicians ensure decontamination of medical devices in compliance with strict hygienic procedures. They dismantle and re-assemble sophisticated medical equipment through sterilising, cleaning, and repackaging it for further usage, under supervision, following the orders of the doctor of medicine or other qualified medical personnel.

Excludes people performing patients treatment.
Excludes people performing assistance in medical treatment.

Sterile services technicians typically do the following:

  • collect re-usable medical and surgical instruments and devices from wards, clinics and operating theatres
  • take apart pieces of equipment to clean
  • clean and sterilise equipment
  • put equipment back together when sterilised
  • check that all instruments are clean and working properly
  • deliver sterile supplies by trolley to wards and departments
  • restock supplies of items like dressings, needles and syringes
  • operate a steam sterilising machine

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to sterile services technician:

disinfection assistant
sterile processing technician

Working conditions

Sterile services technicians work in hospitals, medical clinics, and other health care facilities. They are responsible for cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing surgical instruments and other medical equipment. They also assemble and maintain surgical instrument sets, and operate and maintain sterilization equipment.

Sterile services technicians typically work full time, and some may work evenings, weekends, and holidays. They may be required to work overtime to keep up with the demands of the facility in which they work. The work can be physically demanding, and sterile processing technicians must be able to lift and move heavy equipment. They also must be able to stand for long periods of time and work in a fast-paced environment.

Minimum qualifications

Entry-level positions in this field typically require a high school diploma. Some employers may prefer a minimum of an associate’s degree in a health care field.

Many employers prefer candidates who have completed a formal program in sterile processing. These programs typically take about a year to complete and include coursework in microbiology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and microbiological safety.

Most sterile services technicians receive on-the-job training. This training typically lasts for a few weeks and includes instruction on safety procedures, how to use sterilization equipment and how to clean and disinfect medical equipment.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Sterile services technician is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Sterile services technician career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to sterile services technician.

front line medical receptionist
emergency medical dispatcher
patient transport services driver
healthcare assistant

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of sterile services technician. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of sterile services technician with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

anatomical pathology technician
cytology screener
clinical coder
dietetic technician
anaesthetic technician

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of sterile services technician.

  • Hygiene in a health care setting: The procedures related to maintaining a hygienic environment within a health care setting such as hospitals and clinics. It can range from hand washing to cleaning and disinfection of medical equipment used and infection control methods.
  • Microbiology-bacteriology: Microbiology-Bacteriology is a medical specialty mentioned in the EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
  • Surgical asepsis: The way to keep equipment and surfaces sterile to prevent infections during medical care.
  • Infection control: The routes of transmission and methods of preventing spread of common and important infecting organisms together with the methods available for sterilisation and disinfection of pathogenic organisms in the prevention of infection.
  • Sterilization techniques: The methods and techniques used to destroy or remove microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria that can contaminate medical instruments or any type of material in a health care setting.
  • Professional documentation in health care: The written standards applied in the health care professional environments for documentation purposes of one`s activity.
  • Microscopic techniques: The techniques, functions and limitations of microscopy to visualise objects that cannot be seen with the normal eye.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of sterile services technician.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of sterile services technician. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • E-procurement: The functioning and methods used to manage electronic purchases.
  • Medical devices materials: The different materials used to create medical devices such as polymer materials, thermoplastic and thermosetting materials, metal alloys and leather. In the choice of materials, attention must be paid to medical regulations, cost, and biocompatibility.
  • Health care system: The structure and function of health care services.
  • Medical informatics: The processes and tools used for the analysis and dissemination of medical data through computerized systems.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of sterile services technician. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

ISCO group and title

5329 – Personal care workers in health services not elsewhere classified

  1. Sterile services technician – ESCO
  2. Sterile services technician | Explore careers – National Careers Service
  3. What Does a Sterile Processing Technician Do? –
  4. Sterile Processing Technician Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  5. Featured image: By Master Sgt. John Nimmo, Sr. –, Public Domain
Last updated on November 10, 2022

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