How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician in California

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Would you love to work in a hospital or medical clinic without the daunting task of going to medical school in your way?

Consider a profession as a Sterile Processing Technician!

You could spend your days helping people heal and helping physicians perform surgery and medical procedures by keeping their tools organized, sterilized, and decontaminated.

Read on to find out what you have to do to become an SPT in the state of California!

Search Sterile Processing Technician Programs

Get information on Sterile Processing Technician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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How to Become an SPT

Like many other states, California requires no additional licensing or schooling for Sterile Processing Technicians.

It’s widely known, however, that the job market for SPTs is very competitive — and beyond that, many clinics and hospitals in California won’t give applications a second glance if you have no formal training or prior experience.

Don’t worry, though — the Healthcare Sterile Processing Association has been certifying people since 1971, and their courses are the best way to make sure your application stays at the top of the pile.

The Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA)

You can obtain your certification through one of the HSPA’s four levels of certifications:

  • Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) – the base-level certification for SPTs
  • Certified Endoscope Reprocessor (CER) – an endoscope-specific certification
  • Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) – an advanced instrument certification
  • Certified Healthcare Leader (CHL) – a certification for SPT management

Before you can take the test, though, you’ll have to submit an application with all of the necessary documentation.

Once you’ve been admitted, it’s time to study — but luckily, the HSPA provides a ton of resources to prepare you, including content outlines and reference materials, online courses, and even the HSPA’s very own Certification Handbook.

Once you’ve passed, you’ll be certified for next year, and to renew your certification, you’ll just have to pay a $50 fee and submit evidence of any continuing education courses you’ve taken in the meantime.

Sterile Processing Schools in California

If studying all by yourself sounds daunting, though, you could also attend an accredited course at a California school. 

Here are a few that offer Sterile Processing courses:

California State University San Marcos San Marcos | CSU

California State San Marcos offers an online course that will prepare you for the HSPA’s CRCST exam specifically.

In fact, completion of the course will even provide you with a prepaid voucher that will allow you to take the test free of charge!

Once you complete and pass the course, you’ll also be able to apply for a clinical experience placement to help you complete some of the HSPA’s required 400 hours of hands-on experience.

To apply, you will need to provide a high school diploma or GED.

In order to take the course itself, you’ll also need a functional computer and a stable internet connection.

If the $3,390 cost is a bit too much for you all at once, you can pay in installments with Affirm.

CSUSM offers open enrollment for their 190-hour, self-paced course, and all the books and materials you’ll need will be shipped to you as soon as you’re enrolled.

Contra Costa Medical Career College Contra Costa Medical Career College – Medical Career College in the San Francisco Bay Area

Contra Costa Medical Career College offers a Sterile Processing Certificate Program that will prepare you for certification by the HSPA. 

During and after completion of the classroom component, you’ll participate in a clinical component that consists of 214 hours in a Sterile Processing simulated lab followed by 200-400 hours at an externship. 

You’ll even receive your assignments within 30 days of graduation, ensuring you have the next steps to continue your career.

To graduate, however, you’ll have to apply to take the test one month before completion of the course, and you’ll have to schedule the test itself for a week after completion.

In order to apply, you’ll have to pay a $200 registration fee and undergo a $150 drug screen and background check.

Tuition costs $10,200, plus you’ll have to pay for your uniform, books, and any other necessary expenses.

Altamont HealthcareEKG Tech & Sterile Processing Tech Certification | Altamont Healthcare

Altamont Healthcare is a National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredited school that prepares students for the Certification Board for the Sterile Processing and Distribution certification exam. 

Their course is 100 hours long, plus 240-400 hours of an externship, and costs $4,110 total, a much more affordable option than many other programs. 

They also offer several payment plans and discounts through their website to make their courses as affordable as possible.

The course is 5-10 weeks long depending on the schedule you choose, and you don’t need any prior experience in healthcare fields to apply.

All you’ll need is $250 for the application fee, your high school diploma or GED, and a government-issued ID proving you’re at least 18 years old.

School Name Address
California State University San Marcos 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Road San Marcos, CA 92096 US
Contra Costa Medical Career College 4041 Lone Tree Wy #101, Antioch, CA 94531
Altamont Healthcare Stockton 2027 West March Ln, Suite 3 Stockton, CA 95207
Altamont Healthcare Bakersfield 2601 F St. Bakersfield, CA 93301


In the state of California, SPTs make $49,755 on average — but there’s plenty of room for growth!

Top earners make upwards of $60,000 a year.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Los Angeles $50,643
San Diego $48,679
San Jose $56,611
San Francisco $56,385
Long Beach $50,296
Fresno $45,199
Sacramento $48,848
Oakland $55,032
Santa Ana $50,341
Anaheim $50,409

Regional Salary in California

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Bakersfield, CA140$53,710$25.82$76,930$37,500
Chico, CA90$51,440$24.73$76,860$39,120
Fresno, CA250$49,910$23.99$68,400$32,990
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA2,660$55,110$26.5$72,040$37,390
Madera, CA30$44,300$21.3$64,120$33,490
Napa, CA30$63,050$30.31$88,740$43,740
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA160$50,530$24.29$72,790$30,420
Redding, CA40$61,840$29.73$83,300$39,520
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA760$51,130$24.58$68,130$31,410
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA610$66,100$31.78$83,910$40,100
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA510$58,140$27.95$70,770$37,600
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA1,510$71,280$34.27$94,520$43,850
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA530$66,330$31.89$83,820$46,620
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA40$58,280$28.02$77,250$38,740
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA40$53,940$25.93$74,400$35,780
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA70$56,460$27.15$64,490$39,200
Santa Rosa, CA110$70,470$33.88$84,260$44,470
Stockton-Lodi, CA120$58,950$28.34$76,010$39,820
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA100$69,480$33.4$83,870$42,380
Visalia-Porterville, CA70$46,210$22.22$58,750$37,310
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Medical Equipment Preparers, OCC Code 31-9093, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much can I make as a Sterile Processing Technician in California?

The state of California has one of the higher ranges of yearly salary for Sterile Processing Technicians.

Though the average yearly salary is $49,755, the average in California’s largest cities is much higher, with top earning potential in those cities stretching upwards of $60,000.

Do I need a degree or certification to be a Sterile Processing Technician in California?

No, you do not need a degree or certification — however, the job market for Sterile Processing Technicians is very competitive, so a certification will help you in your job search in the long run.

How do I get certified as a Sterile Processing Technician in California?

To get certification, you must take the HSPA’s certification tests.

To prepare for them, you can either study on your own for the exam, or you can attend a Sterile Processing program at one of California’s colleges.

Sterile Processing Technician Info by State

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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