SoCal ROC Introduces Sterile Processing Distribution Technician Training Program

As one of the Southern California Regional Occupational Center’s (SoCal ROC) newest job training programs, the need for Sterile Processing Distribution Technicians is expected to grow 37.5 percent in the next six years. In the past year, 70 SoCal ROC students have graduated from this training program, and a majority are now working in hospitals and medical centers.

As one of the most essential job duties at any medical facility, the Sterile Processing Distribution Technician program trains students in the sterilization process of medical instruments and tools for hospitals and surgery centers, as well as the stocking of supplies for surgical departments. These technicians are part of a strategic team in the medical field responsible for the prevention of the spread of viruses, bacteria, and other contaminants in a medical setting.

The average annual salary for a Sterile Processing Distribution Technician is $54,588. SoCal ROC graduates are securing jobs in this field immediately after completing this training program. 

SoCal ROC graduate Gabriela Caso was previously a freshman at California State University, Long Beach. “I realized I did not want to wait four years to have a nice paying career, so I headed over to the Southern California Regional Occupation Center and discovered the Sterile Processing Distribution Technician program and enrolled,” Caso said. Before she even finished the six-week course, she was referred to a job in the field by her SoCal ROC instructor and was hired after graduation at a sterile processing distribution facility that processes medical and dental tools and instruments. The facility pays new hires while they complete the required 400 hours of hands-on training in the field leading to taking the state exam.

Torrance Memorial Medical Center initially contacted SoCal ROC about the possibility of creating a new training program in this field. “I contacted the leadership team at SoCal ROC about an opportunity for their students to complete a didactic course at their school with a practicum following at Torrance Memorial Medical Center,” said Dr. Elizabeth Austin, advanced clinical nurse educator for perioperative services clinical education at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, who serves as advisor for SoCal ROC’s program. “This profession is in high demand nationally. The team at SoCal ROC are visionary leaders that took the idea of this program to a high level in terms of educationally relevant materials both hands-on and professionally based instructional material. SoCal ROC offers a cost-effective method of community education and support for students to immediately find employment in healthcare.”

SoCal ROC’s Sterile Processing Distribution Technician training program costs a fraction of what other schools are charging for the same instruction. Students who enroll in the program attend class four days per week for four months followed by a 400-hour externship at a local hospital that partners with SoCal ROC. Once students complete the externship hours, they are eligible to take the national Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) exam. In addition, there are three additional certifications that these technicians can earn including Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS), Certified Endoscope Reprocessing (CER), and Certified Management Specialist (CMS). After taking an additional certification module, students can immediately take the national exam for that specific certification. Additional certifications can lead to career growth and increased salary.
“This career path is great for anyone interested in the healthcare field that wants to become further advanced working in support of the operating room (OR),” said SoCal ROC Instructor, Rebecca Clements, who has experience in the field. “This career path can take you into the OR in jobs such as OR assistant, surgical nurse assistant, and surgical nurse technician.”

During the externship, students gain hands-on experience in the various departments under the guidance and supervision of established hospital staff. Students are afforded the opportunity to learn the processes through direct experience alongside experts on staff that further explain the role and scientific rationale. Sterile Processing Distribution Technicians are vital to infection prevention for surgical procedures as this work impacts the only actual items that touches the patients directly (surgeons and assistants all wear gloves and protection, the surgical instruments touch the patient directly). The processes and procedures for this occupation are continuously reviewed by national accrediting agencies for accuracy.

“I love seeing students take classroom instruction, book work, and simulations and apply what they have learned to their hands-on training during the externship. I receive emails from my students during the externship sharing their excitement in the clarity they get in applying the knowledge they have learned in a real-world setting,” said Clements, who developed and implemented SoCal ROC’s Sterile Processing Distribution Technician program along with Dr. Jennifer Pesavento, SoCal ROC’s Director of Programs and Student Support Services.

Shaunte White also graduated from the Sterile Processing Distribution Technician program and was hired at the Sterile Processing Services of America in Long Beach, Calif. “I have been a certified nursing assistant for more than 20 years, so I have hospital experience, but I want to work on the operational side by cleaning and processing clinical tools and being more hands on,” said White. “If you are looking for short-term training for in-demand careers, SoCal ROC is the place to get that training.”
Register for Fall Classes at SoCal ROC

Registration is in progress for fall 2022 job training classes at the Southern California Regional Occupational Center (SoCal ROC). Fall classes begin September 12, 2022. SoCal ROC serves both adult learners and high school students. Interested individuals are encouraged to enroll now by calling 310-224-4200 or visiting campus, located at 2300 Crenshaw Boulevard, Torrance, CA 90501. Class schedules and more information are available at