A photo of a hand with a non-latex glove on, pushing in stacked trays of surgical instruments being put into an autoclave to become sterilized.


Provide Vital Support

Students who become Central Service Technicians are key to the healthcare system including hospitals and clinics throughout San Diego County. These professionals clean and sterilize vital instrumentation and equipment used throughout the healthcare facility for patient care.

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The Central Service Technology (CST) Program trains students in proper sterilization of surgical instruments and handling of medical equipment. Central Service Technicians work primarily in the Sterile Processing Department or Central Service Department and work with medical supplies, equipment, and processing of surgical instruments. Upon satisfactory completion of the program, the student is eligible for a Southwestern College Certificate of Proficiency and to take the International Certification Exam. The salary of a Central Service Technician ranges from $16 to $25 per hour and varies by experience.

The program requires that students have the ability 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 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

The Central Service Technology (CST) Program accepts 20 students every fall semester. This program does not have prerequisite courses. Submit your CST application packet during the application period. Applications will be reviewed in the order they are received. Complete application packets will be given first priority. 

  • Download and review the Central Service Technology Program Checklist & Application (PDF) for details on all that is needed to apply.
  • The required documents and forms on pages 1-2 of the checklist must be submitted by the application deadline (May 3, 2024).
  • If you are offered a seat in the program, additional documents and forms listed on page 3 will be submitted by specific dates provided to you by the Nursing & Health Occupation Programs (NHOP) Office.

Letters of acceptance will be emailed to SWC email accounts after the application deadline, and after all applications have been reviewed. Notifications will not be sent to personal email accounts. 

All accepted students are expected to meet on the first day of class. Students who fail to meet on the first day of class will have to re-apply for the next available course.

Fall 2024 Application Period

Central Service Technology Program application packets will be accepted:

April 9 - May 3, 2024 

The application packet can be submitted in person or by U.S. Mail. If sending by mail, it must be postmarked by the deadline to be considered. Submitting an application does not guarantee entry into the program. Students admiited to the program will start in Fall of 2024 during the month of August.

Application Documents & Instructions

Use the Central Service Technology Program Checklist & Application (PDF) on pages 1-2 as a guide to help you prepare and gather all required documents and forms to apply for the program. 

Update related to CoVid-19 vaccine: All major Healthcare Systems in San Diego County require students and faculty to be fully vaccinated for CoVid-19. Applicants to any Nursing and Health Occupations (ADN, VN-Step-up, VN, CNA, Acute Care CNA, Surgical Technology, Central Service Technician, and Operating Room Nurse) programs will be required to submit proof of vaccine status at time of application (Rev. 04-24-23).

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