homepage | Comparing Programs: Sterile Processing Technician and Surgical Technologist

June 25, 2024

Comparing Programs: Sterile Processing Technician and Surgical Technologist

by Pete Dulin

The online Sterile Processing program prepares you to gain industry certification and for work at a healthcare employer.

Sterile Processing Technician and Surgical Technologist are two of the most popular online training programs available from UMKC TalentLink and healthcare training partner MedCerts. These programs prepare you to gain industry certification and work in a healthcare setting in a high-demand role. Once completed, you will be ready to begin a career pathway with rewarding pay and benefits. What are the similarities and differences between the two healthcare training programs? Let’s take a look.

A typical hospital uses (and reuses) tens of thousands of medical instruments every month. Although some supplies are disposable, many are not. The reusable supplies come with their own special instructions for proper cleaning and maintenance. Sterile Processing Technicians (SPTs) prepare surgical instruments and devices. They clean, inspect, test, sterilize, store and deliver devices needed for surgery in a healthcare facility.

Other job duties may include

  • Verify and accurately document missing instruments
  • Record sterilizer test results
  • Ensure each instrument is in good working order prior to placing in-tray for use,
  • Operate and maintain steam autoclaves, a machine that uses steam under pressure to kill harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and spores on items
  • Keep records of loads complete, items in loads, and maintenance procedures performed
  • Make recommendations to management for possible improvement
  • Communicate effectively with operating room personnel and others

The MedCerts online Sterile Processing program prepares students to gain industry certification and ultimately to work in hospitals, surgery centers, clinics and other healthcare facilities. Because graduates will be working in a healthcare facility, it is imperative that they be able to speak and understand the language of medicine and have a fundamental understanding of basic human anatomy and physiology.

Upon completion of this program, the student will be eligible to sit for the provisional certification exam for Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) sponsored by the Healthcare Sterile Processing
Association (HSPA, formerly IAHCSMM). Full certification is obtained after acquiring 400 hours of hands-on sterile processing experience within six months of provisional certification.

  • Sterile Processing Technician
  • Sterile Processing and Distribution
  • Instrument Technician
  • Central Processing Technician
  • Central Service Technician
  • Throughout the Sterile Processing Technician program, students will learn the
  • skills to:
  • Identify central service workflow processes for cleaning,
  • decontamination, preparation and packaging to sterilization and
  • storage or surgical instruments and equipment.
  • Discuss compliance standards and the role of HIPAA, OSHA, CDC,
  • FDA, ANSI, AAMI and other regulating agencies.
  • Describe the importance of manufacturer’s instructions for use (IFU),
  • infection control and use of personal protective equipment (PPE)throughout
  • central service areas and their impact on personal patient safety.
  • Differentiation methods for quality control and assurance and the
  • necessity of central service process documentation.

Once you’re trained and certified as a Sterile Processing Technician, you may begin earning up to $45,000 in estimated salary, plus benefits. Glassdoor indicates that technicians with less than one year of experience in the Kansas City area may earn on average between $35,000-48,000. Local employers seeking Sterile Processing Technicians include hospitals, surgery centers, healthcare systems, clinics, and other facilities.

Online courses include Intro to Human Anatomy and Medical Terminology, Professionalism in Allied Health, and Sterile Processing. The Sterile Processing Technician program can be completed in 14 weeks or less than four months. Materials covered include expert-led video training, textbook, competency assessments, and national certification exam fee as well as support from Student Success Advisors.

MedCerts programs are designed for people who learn in different ways including visual learning, interactive learning, and game-based learning. MedCerts develops their online training programs in-house with guidance and contributions from industry-recognized subject matter experts and an education technology design team. Online learning includes interactive simulations, interviews with real world experts, and game based learning.

A Sterile Processing Technician’s role is essential to a safe, smooth, and effective workflow as part of the healthcare team. Earning certification is a first step on your pathway to work as a Sterile Processing Technician.

How To Become a Sterile Processing Technician Through UMKC TalentLink and MedCerts

Prior healthcare experience isn’t a requirement. To prepare for this role, you can learn through MedCerts’ online certification training. You’ll complete expert-led video-based training that you can access from home on your schedule.  

Completing training and earning certification can lead to more specialized and better-paying pathways in the healthcare field.

The 14-week program includes course and study materials, dedicated student success advisors, and access to MedCerts’ career center and career coaches for a year after certification completion. You’ll gain the knowledge and skills needed for the certification exam. 

MedCerts’ education consultants are available to discuss flexible payment plans for the tuition. Spouses of active duty service members can access the MyCAA Grant, a Department of Defense program offering up to $4,000 in financial aid.

How Do I Get Started?

Request more information from UMKC TalentLink’s healthcare training partner MedCerts about the Sterile Processing Technician program. A MedCerts representative will contact you to share program information and answer your questions.


The MedCerts Surgical Technologist program provides students with immersive and virtual hands-on learning experiences that allow for the demonstration of key clinical skills. Surgical procedures are demonstrated using virtual tools or live-recorded video. They are simulated – allowing the student to immerse him/herself into a virtual experience that is engaging, safe, and repeatable.

This program prepares students to become Tech in Surgery – Certified (TS-C) by the National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT). Professionals who earn the TS-C designation have the clinical skills and knowledge for maintaining asepsis during surgery, anticipating the surgeon’s needs, and remaining attentive to all aspects of the surgical procedure to ensure a safe environment for the patient.

The role of a Surgical Technologist is to prepare operating rooms, arrange equipment, prepare patients, and assist doctors during surgeries. They have the unique opportunity to interact with patients prior to (pre), during (intra), and after (post) surgical procedures.

Before surgery, a tech assembles the necessary surgical equipment and ensures all devices are in working order. Techs prepare patients for surgery by positioning, draping, washing and disinfecting the incision site. During an operation, they will pass sterile instruments and supplies to surgeons. They might hold retractors or set up robotic surgical equipment.

After surgery, techs often dress the incision site, transport patients to their recovery rooms, and restock the operating room with supplies and equipment.

This program contains a clinical requirement to complete national certification. This clinical requirement consists of case documentation which requires a minimum of 125 surgical cases including a minimum of 30 scrubs in general surgery (with a maximum of 50) and a minimum of 75 scrubs in at least 3 (three) of the following areas [Gynecology; Obstetrics; Otorhinolaryngology 5; Genitourinary; Thoracic; Plastic/Reconstructive; Cardiovascular; Ophthalmology; Other; Neurosurgery; Peripheral Vascular]. At least 90 of the 125 cases must be 1st scrub cases. MedCerts students must complete these clinical hours before attempting to take the Tech in Surgery – Certified national certification exam issued through the NCCT. Students enrolling through an Employer or Academic Sponsored program are not required to complete clinical elements before attempting the certification exam.

Employer/Clinical Sponsorship –

  1. Applicants to these programs MUST provide verification that an Employer or Clinical Site has agreed to accept the applicant in efforts to fulfill “surgical case” requirements required for Tech in Surgery (TS-C) certification before enrollment. With this Sponsorship, the student must be guaranteed to perform a minimum of required surgical cases during the term of enrollment or immediately upon completion of their MedCerts program.
  2. The MedCerts Student Clinical Site Information Form must be submitted to MedCerts prior to enrollment.

Surgical Technologist
Surgical Technician
Travel Surgical Technician
Certified Scrub Technician
Operating Room Technician
Surgical Assistant

Throughout the Surgical Technologist program, students will learn to:

  • Maintain sterile operative fields
  • Sterilize medical equipment or instruments
  • Prepare biological specimens for laboratory analysis
  • Assist healthcare practitioners during surgery
  • Maintain inventory of medical supplies or equipment
  • Monitor patient conditions during treatments, procedures, or activities

Hundreds of surgical technologist and operating room tech positions advertised by local healthcare employers range on average from $33,000-58,000 in annual income. Demand for qualified entry-level and experienced personnel remains strong.

Request more information from UMKC TalentLink’s healthcare training partner MedCerts about the Surgical Technologist program. A MedCerts representative will contact you to share program information and answer your questions.