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Surgical Processor

Surgical processors follow established standards, approved procedures and infection control and safety protocols. They gather, take apart, clean, disinfect, decontaminate, reassemble, package, sterilize, store and distribute surgical instruments, supplies and equipment for reuse in a health care facility.

Also Known As

Central Service Technician, Central Supply Aide, Medical Device Reprocessing Technician, Sterile Processing Technician

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Central Supply Aides (3414.5) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services (D313) 
  • 2011 NOC: Other assisting occupations in support of health services (3414) 
  • 2016 NOC: Other assisting occupations in support of health services (3414) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Central Supply Aides

2006 NOC: 3414.5

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
OBJECTIVE

Interest in operating machines such as instrument washers, sonic sinks, cart washers and steam autoclaves to clean, reprocess and sterilize supplies for reuse

METHODICAL

Interest in copying information to assemble packs of sterile supplies and instruments for delivery to hospital departments

innovative

Interest in assisting health care staff by collecting and sorting soiled supplies and instruments from hospital departments, and by delivering sterile supplies to departments as required

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Surgical processors’ main duty is to prevent and control infection. They apply critical infection prevention and control standards and strategies to all tasks. The extent of their duties depends on the size of the facility. It also depends on the mix of equipment.

In general, surgical processor duties fall into the below categories.

Decontaminate Instruments:

  • receive soiled case carts
  • sort and decontaminate soiled surgical instruments for surgical cases, and for internal and external clinics
  • take apart simple and complex instruments for manual (hand-wash) and mechanical cleaning and disinfection
  • decontaminate soiled and contaminated metalware, unit supplies and equipment (including anesthetic and respiratory supplies)
  • use detergents and disinfectants specific to established methods and devices
  • load, operate and monitor decontamination equipment
  • maintain decontamination equipment to prevent breakdown.

Assemble Instruments:

  • use a hardcopy or computerized procedure system to inspect, sort, reassemble, function-test, label and contain devices into:
    • single packages
    • procedural trays
    • instrument sets
  • report damaged or failing devices, equipment and supplies
  • maintain assembly equipment to prevent breakdown.

Sterilize Instruments:

  • sort and prepare devices to be sterilized using the right methods
  • document and load items to be sterilized
  • operate and monitor sterilization processes and equipment
  • conduct standard tests to monitor the effectiveness of sterilization
  • unload sterilizers and transport processed items to sterile storage
  • store and rotate sterilized items
  • maintain sterilization equipment to prevent breakdown.

Assemble and Distribute Case Carts:

  • assemble surgical case carts for booked and emergency surgeries using a picklist computer system
  • restock procedure and specialty supply carts for various patient care areas on a scheduled basis
  • communicate, receive, fill and deliver urgent and routine requests for medical devices, supplies and equipment for the operating room or other patient care areas
  • track inventory quota levels and changes in demand
  • provide suitable substitutes and report problems with obtaining instruments and supplies
  • return unused and intact instruments, sets and consumables to their correct storage location.

 Other:

  • help orient and train new staff and students
  • take part in professional development and continuing education opportunities
  • routine cleaning and sanitation of work stations and storage areas
  • keep records
  • follow established infection control protocols.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Surgical processors typically work in acute care settings (e.g. hospitals). These settings are fast-paced, noisy and stressful. They can also work in dental and eye clinics and any related field where instruments or supplies must be cleaned and sterilized.

Most central supply (also known as medical device reprocessing) departments are set up like an assembly line. They have various stations and processes. These differ from one facility to the next. However, most include areas for:

  • decontamination
  • assembly
  • sterilization
  • storage

Staff members often rotate through different stations. They must learn the processes and techniques for each area. The tasks they perform at any one station can be repetitive.

Surgical processors work with chemicals and must follow safety procedures. These procedures reduce risk of exposure to biohazard materials. They also reduce risk of injury from hot surfaces and sharp instruments.

Surgical processors stand for most of their shift. They routinely handle items that weigh up to 10 kilograms and sometimes up to 18 kilograms. They also move loaded carts that weigh up to 110 kilograms. They wear uniforms and personal protective equipment during their shift. They must be able to tolerate:

  • continuous noise
  • latex disinfection and sterilization chemicals
  • the smell and sight of human blood and tissue.

Hospital central supply and sterile processing departments may operate 24 hours a day. Surgical processors work shifts that may include evenings, nights, weekends and holidays. Most staffing is required during hours when surgeries are performed (Monday to Friday during the day). A small number of staff is kept for after hours and weekends.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Surgical processors need:

  • a tolerance for latex, disinfection and sterilization chemicals, and the sight of blood and human tissue
  • attention to detail
  • mental fitness, sound judgment and initiative
  • physical co-ordination and fine motor skills
  • organizational skills
  • computer skills and technical abilities
  • the ability to stand or walk for long periods of time with repeated bending at the knees and waist
  • the ability to work under pressure
  • the ability to perform repetitive and strenuous tasks
  • the ability to speak and write clearly
  • the ability to be flexible, solve problems and prioritize workload
  • an interest in community health and safety.

They should enjoy:

  • working alone and as a team
  • using technical equipment and hand tools
  • having clear guidelines and organized methods for their work
  • pursuing continuous learning
  • teaching and training others.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Other assisting occupations in support of health services

2016 NOC: 3414

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 90 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 27, 2021 and Nov 30, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Personal Suitability: Team player
Personal Suitability: Client focus
Personal Suitability: Reliability
Personal Suitability: Excellent oral communication
Personal Suitability: Dependability
Personal Suitability: Effective interpersonal skills
Personal Suitability: Organized
Personal Suitability: Accurate
Personal Suitability: Initiative
Personal Suitability: Flexibility
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Minimum Education High school diploma

Some surgical processors receive on-the-job training, but employers generally look for candidates with:

  • a high school diploma (or equivalent)
  • certification in medical device reprocessing
  • demonstrated proficiency in English
  • knowledge of basic medical terminology.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

ABES (Alberta Business and Educational Services) - Calgary
Lethbridge College
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Certification Not Regulated

Surgical processors may get work in Alberta without certification. However, they cannot work unsupervised, which limits their job opportunities. Employers expect surgical processors to become certified within the first few months of working.

Alberta Health Services expects anyone working in surgical processing, endoscopy departments, or any department performing sterilization of reusable medical devices to be certified in one of two recognized certification programs:

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Sterile processing technicians work in:

  • colon cancer screening centres
  • dental offices
  • doctors’ offices
  • hospital central processing facilities, operating rooms and day procedure facilities
  • laser eye clinics
  • private health care facilities
  • surgical centres.

Without further education, advancement opportunities are limited.

Sterile processing technicians are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 3414: Other assisting occupations in support of health services. In Alberta, 83% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the 3414: Other assisting occupations in support of health services occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.1% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 169 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Other assisting occupations in support of health services

2016 NOC: 3414
Average Wage
$23.86
Per Hour
Average Salary
$39,005.00
Per Year
Average Hours
31.4
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 3414 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $35.81 $21.03 $20.39
Overall $16.64 $38.84 $23.86 $23.26
Top $18.00 $47.67 $26.87 $25.95

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Public Administration
Health Care & Social Assistance
ALL INDUSTRIES
Retail Trade
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Leasing

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
57%
57%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
18%
18%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
4%
4%
Vacancy Rate
2%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Alberta Health Services website: www.albertahealthservices.ca

CSA Group website, health care and medical devices training: store.csagroup.org

International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM) website: www.iahcsmm.org/certification.html

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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