California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Medical Equipment Preparers in San Diego County

May also be called: Central Processing Technicians (CPT); Central Service Technicians (CST); Central Sterile Supply (CSS) Technicians; Certified Registered Central Service Technicians (CRCST); Sterile Preparation Technicians; Sterile Processing and Distribution (SPD) Technicians; and Sterile Processing Technicians

What Would I Do?

Medical Equipment Preparers are essential to the medical field. They are responsible for sterilizing, stocking, and preparing various medical tools, supplies, and equipment in health care facilities, such as hospitals, dental offices, and outpatient care centers. They may prepare operating areas with the proper supplies and equipment. Since there are contagious infections and diseases present in health care facilities where Medical Equipment Preparers work, it is important that potential spreading of these be minimized. Preparers are crucial in preventing the spread of viruses and contamination of germs and bacteria.

Tools and Technology

Medical Equipment Preparers use a variety of tools and technology in their work, such as sterilizers, pressure regulators, ultrasonic cleaning equipment, sterilization test kits, and software including spreadsheet and supply chain management.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Operate and maintain steam autoclaves, keeping records of loads completed, items in loads, and maintenance procedures performed.Critical Thinking
Organize and assemble routine or specialty surgical instrument trays or other sterilized supplies, filling special requests as needed.Information Ordering
Examine equipment to detect leaks, worn or loose parts, or other indications of disrepair.Quality Control Analysis
Record sterilizer test results.Written Expression
Start equipment and observe gauges and equipment operation to detect malfunctions and to ensure equipment is operating to prescribed standards.Operation Monitoring
Report defective equipment to appropriate supervisors or staff.Problem Sensitivity
Stock crash carts or other medical supplies.Customer and Personal Service
Purge wastes from equipment by connecting equipment to water sources and flushing water through systems.Arm-Hand Steadiness
Check sterile supplies to ensure that they are not outdated.Near Vision
Disinfect and sterilize equipment such as respirators, hospital beds, or oxygen or dialysis equipment, using sterilizers, aerators, or washers.Manual Dexterity
Clean instruments to prepare them for sterilization.Finger Dexterity
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Medical Equipment Preparers work in a variety of health care facilities, such as hospitals, dental offices, and outpatient care centers. Most facilities are well-lit, air-conditioned, and have modern equipment. Preparers walk or stand most of the day. They must take precautions to guard against exposure to toxic cleaning agents and diseases or illnesses and wear protective clothing such as gloves, aprons, ear plugs, masks, caps, and gowns. Using proper safety procedures reduces personal risk and possible spread of diseases. Full-time Medical Equipment Preparers work 40 hours a week, but some are on-call and work various shifts. Some may be required to work shifts longer than the typical eight hours, if necessary.

Medical Equipment Preparers may join a union such as the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW).

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Medical Equipment Preparer may appeal to those who enjoy work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions and working with different tools and machinery. Medical Equipment Preparers must also work well independently and have good attention to detail.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?


The median wage in 2016 for Medical Equipment Preparers in California is $45,388 annually, or $21.82 hourly. The median wage for Medical Equipment Preparers in San Diego County is $40,218 annually, or $19.33 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
San Diego County$31,398$40,218$50,742
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Although benefits vary by employer, full-time Medical Equipment Preparers typically receive medical insurance, vacation and sick leave, and retirement plans. Some employers may pay for continuing education and travel costs.

What is the Job Outlook?

Medical Equipment Preparers should find employment opportunities as the aging population continues to turn to medical facilities for help with their health care needs.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Medical Equipment Preparers is expected to grow faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Medical Equipment Preparers are expected to increase by 16.9 percent, or 1,100 jobs between 2014 and 2024.

In San Diego County, the number of Medical Equipment Preparers is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Medical Equipment Preparers are expected to increase by 6.3 percent, or 30 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Medical Equipment Preparers
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Additional Openings
Due to Net
San Diego County
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 120 new job openings per year is expected for Medical Equipment Preparers, plus an additional 140 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 250 job openings.

In San Diego County, an average of 3 new job openings per year is expected for Medical Equipment Preparers, plus an additional 9 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 12 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Medical Equipment Preparers
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
San Diego County
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Prospective Medical Equipment Preparers are required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. They often receive needed job-specific knowledge and skills through on-the-job training. Some employers also require a working knowledge of medical terminology and surgical instruments, as well as various sterilization processes and familiarity with other medical equipment. They may be required to take short-term training.


Many employers expect prospective Medical Equipment Preparers to have a minimum of one year of experience in sterile processing procedures. Some employers will accept completion of formal training such as a Central Service Technical Course in lieu of experience. Additional work experience gives prospective Medical Equipment Preparers a greater advantage in the job market.

Early Career Planning

High school students interested in becoming Medical Equipment Preparers should take courses in biology, chemistry, English, mathematics, computers, and foreign language. Volunteering in hospitals and other health care facilities can also be helpful.

Continuing Education

Continuing education is not generally required; however, Medical Equipment Preparers need to keep current on equipment, terminology, and practices as advancements in health care occur. Medical Equipment Preparers who have a Sterile Processing Technician certification need to complete 100 continuing education points every five years for recertification.


Certification is not required by all employers; however, many employers may prefer to hire prospective Medical Equipment Preparers who are certified as a sterile processing technician. In order to take the exam, individuals must provide verification of 6-12 months of employment in a sterile processing and distribution (SPD) related field, depending on the specific occupation and duties performed. One may also qualify for the exam by completing a Central Service/SPD training course with a passing grade. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Medical Equipment Preparers are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 60.7%
Outpatient Care Centers 13.3%
Offices of Dentists 7.3%
Offices of Physicians 3.5%
Colleges and Universities 2.3%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains an effective job search method. Online job boards, college placement offices, medical recruiters, health care staffing agencies, and professional associations are sources for job leads. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Medical Equipment Preparers.

  • Dentists
  • Health
  • Hospitals
  • Medical
  • Outpatient Surgery Centers
  • Surgery

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

With formal training and experience, Medical Equipment Preparers may find opportunities to advance into management positions. Earning certification from a training program or a formal degree may also increase the ability to advance to related and higher-level occupations.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Medical Equipment Preparers with links to more information.

Medical and Clinical Laboratory TechniciansGuide
Medical AssistantsGuide
Medical Equipment RepairersGuide
Surgical TechnologistsGuide

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification31-9093
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Medical Equipment Preparers31-9093.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)RCI
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Medical/Clinical Assistant 510801
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Medical Assisting120800
   Clinical Medical Assisting120810
   Administrative Medical Assisting120820