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Central Service Technology (CST)

About CST

The purpose of the Central Services Technology Program is to train entry level workers in proper sterilization of surgical instruments and handling of medical equipment. Central Service Technicians work primarily in the Sterile Processing Department (SPD) or Central Service Department. Technicians work with medical supplies, equipment and/or processing of surgical instruments. Upon satisfactory completion of the program, the student is eligible for a Southwestern College Certificate of Achievement and to take the International Certification Exam (IAHCSMM). The salary of a Central Service Technician ranges from $16.00 to $25.00 per hour and varies by experience.

It is a program requirement that the student be able to communicate effectively in the English language (comprehension, verbal and writing skills). This is based on requirements from the clinical facilities as English is the working language in San Diego healthcare facilities.

Course Description

The course covers introduction to central service. Topics include microbiology, aseptic technique, disinfection, decontamination, sterilization, and wrapping/packaging of surgical instruments; review of body systems and surgical instruments; medical terminology, safety, risk management, regulations, inventory management, ethical responsibilities, and communication skills. Laboratory experience supports the introduction to the hospital Central Supply Unit and the role of the Central Supply Technician.

The program consists of three courses. Each course is nine-weeks in length (for a total of 27 weeks) and is limited to 20 students per course.

  • ST-10A is generally offered two evenings a week (Tuesdays & Thursdays) 5:45 p.m. - 9:35 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m. for nine weeks.
  • ST-10B & ST-10C courses are 200 hours each in the laboratory (hospital setting).

Admission Procedures

Enrollment is restricted to 20 students every fall semester. To be considered for the CST Program, students are required to submit a complete application, including proof of having all required immunizations. Please reference the checklist that accompanies the application (click APPLICATION link below) to ensure you have all of the required materials before submitting your application packet. Applicants must submit their application packet to the Nursing Department. 

Currently, U.S. mail delivery is the only option available due to the pandemic. Mail your complete application packet to: Southwestern College Higher Education Center, Otay Mesa. Attention:  Nursing & Health Occupation Programs, 8100 Gigantic Street, Room 4502, San Diego, CA  92154. For full details on how to submit your application by mail during this time, click the link "Important update regarding applications due to COVID-19" in the Fall 2020 Application Period section below.  

All accepted students are expected to meet on the first day. Accepted students who fail to attend class will have to re-apply for the next available cohort.

Fall 2020 Application Period:

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at 9 am to Wednesday, June 10, 2020 at 12 pm

Submitting an application does not guarantee entry into the program.

Important update regarding applications due to COVID-19 (PDF) (revised 4/6/2020)