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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 or work in the field of Central Service Technology and are key to the healthcare system, including hospitals and clinics throughout San Diego County. These professionals work to clean and sterilize crucial equipment and supplies and are at the core of so many medical activities needed for patient care.

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The Central Services Technology 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.

Central Service Technicians work 

  • primarily in the Sterile Processing Department or Central Service Department.
  • with medical supplies.
  • with medical equipment.
  • to process surgical instruments.

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).


Enrollment is restricted to 20 students every fall semester. To be considered for the CST Program, students are required to submit a complete application packet which includes a physical exam and immunizations form. 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 to the Nursing & Health Occupation Programs Office.  

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 2021 Application Period: 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021 to Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Submitting an application does not guarantee entry into the program.

Degrees/Certificates Available

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