Central Services Technology

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Program Spotlight

Central Service and Sterile Processing Technicians, process and distribute sterile equipment and other supplies throughout the medical facility.

In order to succeed as a Central Service Technician, students should be detail oriented, organized and possess strong communication skills in order to effectively work with medical facility patients and staff.

The CST Program at Skyline College

The CST Program consists of three semesters including a classroom course, a skills lab course, and an externship providing hands-on experience in a hospital setting. The externship will be offered to those successfully completing the classroom and lab classes. The hospital externship and the lab skills class are designed to provide the number of clinical hours required by the International Association of Hospital Central Service Materiel Management to meet eligibility for taking the national certification exam. Graduates will receive an industry recognized Certificate of Completion from Skyline College, which qualifies the graduate to take the national exam.

Admission to the Central Service Technology Program is by Special Application only.

Career Outlook

Central Services Technology offers an interesting work environment where medical facilities rely on well-trained personnel to ensure all medical equipment is ready for optimal patient care. According to the Mayo Clinic website, Central Service Technicians will only grow in demand while the volume of surgeries increase. Average annual incomes for California in 2021 were $55,930 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

Central Services Technicians can also undertake further training and education to advance to other health careers.

Looking for a list of classes offered this semester?

Check out the current class schedule.

All Courses

SURG 440 Basic Sciences for Surgical Technology (6.5 units)

Reviews human anatomy and physiology for surgical procedures and common disease states requiring surgical intervention. Also covers medications used during surgery. Concepts of microbiology and basic physics are discussed as they are applied to operating room procedures and practices.

SURG 441 Surgical Patient Care Concepts (5.5 units)

Provides the student with a theoretical and practical understanding of the technology and practices used in caring for a patient undergoing a surgical procedure. Additional material covers the structure and function of a healthcare facility and specifically the Operating Room.

SURG 442 Surgical Specialties (6 units)

Covers the most common procedures and equipment utilized by the surgical technologist during specialty surgery. These specialties include neurosurgery, vascular surgery, orthopedic surgery and others. Prepares the student for the national certification exam.

SURG 443 Clinical Practice for Surgical Technology (10 units)

Provides the student with hands-on experience in the surgical suite caring for patients under the supervision of a surgical technologist or a registered nurse. They will also gain experience in patient and staff interaction and communication. It prepares the student for the national certification examination.

SURG 445 Introduction to Central Service Technology (6.5 units)

The first of three courses providing an introduction to concepts and practical applications of central service processing, distribution and instrumentation. This includes basics of human anatomy, infection control, aseptic technique, sterile processing, decontamination and disinfection.

SURG 446 Clinical Practice for CST (4 units)

The third of three courses in Central Service Technology. Provides the student with supervised experience in sterile processing, supply distribution and inventory control.

SURG 448 Clinical Lab Practicum for Central Service Technology (2 units)

The second of three courses providing the student with hands-on experience in the processing of surgical instruments and medical supplies for disinfection and/or sterilization in a simulated lab and prepares them for the program's clinical phase. The student will practice decontamination, disinfection, inspection, packaging, and sterilization of selected items.

SURG 451 Surgical Skills Lab (5.5 units)

Student practices the clinical skills required to demonstrate competency in the operating room. Skills include, but are not limited to aseptic practices such as scrubbing, gowning and gloving, setting up the instrument table, positioning the patient, and passing instruments supplies and medications to the surgeon. Prepares the student for clinical internship.

SURG 455 Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) Exam Preparation (0.5 units)

Preparation and review for the Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) examination offered by the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting.

SURG 665 Selected Topics in Surgical Technology and Central Service/Sterile Processing (0.5- 2 units)

Designed to develop specific skills that are utilized in the practice of surgical and central service technology. Topics will rotate and will focus on new areas of practice or specialized skills.

The Skyline College STEM Center brings together academic and student support services for students taking science, technology, engineering and math courses.

The center supports student success by ensuring students have access to resources such as academic tutoring, counseling services, a resource depository for STEM pathways and transfer, a hub for internships and work based learning opportunities, as well as a place where students and staff can collaborate and build a community and supportive connection.

Check out the STEM Center

Skyline College Allied Health Sciences has a new Simulation Laboratory located in Building 7, Room 7-211. The lab features state-of-the-art Gaumard adult, infant and premie tetherless simulators. The lab also includes full patient monitors, beds, standard clinical supplies and a video recording system.

Patient simulators can provide all vital signs, including heart & respiratory rates, pulses, lung sounds, pupil response and oxygen saturation. The manikins are able to realistically simulate virtually any medical problem or condition, including cardiac, respiratory, neurological, musculoskeletal and metabolic issues.

The patient simulators provide a total hands-on experience in which students are able to see the results of their actions in real time. Currently, the Simulation Lab is used for training students in the Surgical Technology, Respiratory Care, Anesthesia Technology, and Central Services Technology programs.

If faculty at Skyline have any questions or would like to schedule some time in the lab, please contact Barbara Tovar, Lab Coordinator & Technologist at (650) 738-7928.

Upon completion of the program students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of sterile processing equal to an entry-level central service technician.
  • Demonstrate competence in clinical skills equal to an entry-level central service technician.
  • Demonstrate behavior appropriate for an entry-level central service technician.
Office Information
Location: Building 7
Email: tariqn@smccd.edu

Type Status Title Days Time Instructor
Evening Class   CLASS OVER SURG 446 - 91364 - Clinical Practice for CST
(Pass/No Pass.)
Hours/semester: 192 hours by arrangement in a clinical setting/semester. Prerequisite: SURG 448.
The third of three courses in Central Service Technology. Provides the student with supervised experience in sterile processing, supply distribution and inventory control.

M T W Th F TBA Patel, J

Thank you for your interest in the Central Services Technology program at Skyline College! The program begins once a year in January during Spring semester. Applications accepted from July 1 - October 15.

Application Process

Admission into the Central Service Technology program is by special application only. The application is a 3-step process described below: Skyline College Application, Central Services Tech Application, and 1 reference letter. Twenty-five (25) applicants will be accepted each year.


There are no formal prerequisites, however:

  • Students must have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Since communication in the health care environment is of extreme importance, we recommend that applicants be eligible for English 846 or equivalent

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Central Service Technology Program requires the following application steps:

  1. Complete the Skyline College application
    • Make a note of your Skyline College ID (G#) when received via email
  2. Collect one (1) reference letter
    • You may use the Standard Form or a letter that references the answers to the standard form questions
    • You will be able to upload your reference letter within the online application
    • Or, you may also email your reference letter to Nadia Tariq at tariqn@smccd.edu
  3. Complete the Central Services Tech special application
    • Available July 1 through October 15
  4. More information will be emailed upon application submission

Students admitted to the program are required to complete a satisfactory physical examination, immunization documentation verifying freedom of communicable disease, a social security referenced background check, and drug test (at an additional cost) in order to officially secure their seat. All courses must be taken in sequence. A minimum grade of “C” is required in all Central Service Technology courses.

Clinical Affiliate Requirements

Clinical affiliates require the following. As such, they are required upon acceptance to the program. Do not send any of these documents until requested to do so.

  • Evidence of good health in form of Physical Exam report signed by a practicing physician
  • Verification of all immunizations pertinent to health care personnel -- TB, Tetanus, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Hepatitis B, Chicken Pox, COVID-19
  • Cleared social security referenced background check
  • Cleared drug screen

The physical demands of a Central Service Technician can be challenging. The following required abilities are necessary:

  • Sit or stand up to eight (8) hours per day
  • Capable of lifting and carrying 30 pounds (13.6 kg)
  • Hear and communicate without visual cues
  • Practice in a confined space under stressful conditions

For further information, please contact:

Nadia Tariq, Program Services Coordinator | tariqn@smccd.edu | (650) 738-4176


You must be a high school graduate or equivalent to enter the program. You will also be asked to verify that you are free from communicable disease and should be able to lift 30 pounds. It is highly recommended that you be eligible for English 846 or its equivalent.

Prior to starting classes, students admitted to the program are required to complete a satisfactory physical examination, immunization documentation verifying freedom of communicable disease, a social security referenced background check, and drug test. Typically, a student that has had a felony conviction in the last seven years would not be accepted for a hospital externship.

How to Get Started:

  • Complete a Skyline College Application.
  • Complete the Special Program Application
    • Admission to the Central Service Technology Program is by Special Application Only. All application materials must be returned during the open application period to be considered for the program. Notifications will be mailed within 30 days from the end of the application period.
  • There are no academic prerequisites, however, success in this field requires effective communication skills.


Total tuition for the whole program is $529. Note that other requirements, like the background check, drug screening, clinical requirement trackers, gas for travel, textbooks, and other supplies make the total cost of the program closer to $1,100.

Three semesters in length spanning just over 9 months. The first two classes are conducted at Skyline College with the final semester providing 192 hours of clinical practice in a hospital.

In the first semester, lectures and labs cover Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, Sterilization and Disinfection, surgical instruments, safety, and regulations.

In the Second semester, you will practice procedures for instrument processing.

In the last semester, you will be assigned to a Central Service Department in a hospital or Surgery Center. In the CS Department, you will get practice in methods of Decontamination, Assembly, and Sterilization, as well as the Distribution of instruments, equipment and supplies. You will be expected to practice at least 6 hours per day, 30 hours per week so you will need to have flexible hours. Because the locations of the hospitals span the Bay Area, you will need reliable transportation.

The only formal educational prerequisite is a high school diploma or equivalent. However, since communication in the health care environment is of extreme importance, we recommend that applicants be eligible for English 846, about equivalent to a 10th grade level.

You will also need to pass:

  • a physical exam which would also show you are immune to Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR), Hepatitis B, Chickenpox, and show you are free of active TB.
  • a Social Security‐referenced background check
  • drug screening

These forms will given to accepted and waitlisted students at orientation.

Registration fees are approximately $529. Textbooks, travel, the Background Check and the Physical exam bring the costs up to about $1,100+/‐ for the whole program.

CSTs have the option of working in hospitals, clinics, ambulatory surgery centers, instrument repair, and even in the biotechnical industry.

Depending on the role you take on, salary may vary. In the Bay Area, CS techs can start at about $25 to $27 per hour. Within five years, CST’s can make over $30/ hour.

  1. Apply to Skyline College.
  2. Then go to the Central Service Technology application to complete and submit your application.

Twenty‐five students are randomly selected and another 15 are placed on the Waiting List. Notifications and the forms for the Background Check and Drug screening are given to accepted and waitlisted applicants at orientation.

Primary Contact

Nadia Tariq
Nadia Tariq (Program Services Coordinator - Respiratory Care)
Science|Math|Technology-Respiratory Care (RPTH)
tariqn@smccd.edu More details »