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Sterilising Technician

Kaihangarau Whakahoromata

Alternative titles for this job

Sterilising technicians clean, sterilise and package surgical instruments and other hospital equipment, soft goods and linen in a sterilisation unit.


Entry level sterilising technicians usually earn

$39K-$48K per year

Experienced sterilising technicians usually earn

$49K-$57K per year

Source: '2015 to 2017 Allied, Public Health and Technical Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA)', 2017

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a sterilising technician are average due to stable numbers of people in the role.


Pay rates for sterilising technicians varies depending on experience and qualifications. 

  • Sterilising technicians who are working and training usually start on minimum wage.
  • Qualified sterilising technicians usually earn $48,000 a year.
  • Mid-level sterilising technicians can earn between $49,000 and $56,000.
  • Senior sterilising technicians and those with extra skills or responsibilities can earn $57,000.

Source: '2015 to 2017 Allied, Public Health and Technical Multi-Employer Collective Agreement (MECA)', 2017.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Sterilising technicians may do some or all of the following:

  • clean and disassemble surgical equipment and instruments
  • load, operate and empty washing and sterilising machines
  • reassemble and repackage equipment and instruments for different operations
  • ensure sterile instruments and equipment are clean and working properly, and are distributed to hospital surgical wards as ordered
  • answer customer requests for information about the sterile service
  • keep records of sterilised equipment.

Skills and knowledge

Sterilising technicians need to have knowledge of:

  • sterilising techniques, and surgical equipment and instruments
  • safe working practices including appropriate protective clothing.

Working conditions

Sterilising technicians:

  • usually work rostered shifts and may work weekdays, nights and/or weekends
  • work in the sterilising units of public and private hospitals and clinics.

What's the job really like?

Jessica Chadfield

Sterilising Technician

From TV fascination to hands-on role

A curiosity about surgical equipment seen in television medical programmes is what first ignited Jessica's interest in becoming a sterilising technician.

"Before I did this job, I'd wonder, 'What's that? I wonder what that's for?' when I was watching operations on TV. Now I know exactly what instruments they're using."

While Jessica mainly works in the hospital's sterile supply department, she has had the opportunity to sit in on an operation, which she says was a great eye-opener.

She had always wondered what a claw-like instrument she cleaned and sterilised was for. "It turns out it's to hold the flesh apart. It's quite incredible to see it used."

Sterilising technicians' role is vital

"One of the orthopaedic surgeons said to me he thinks that our job is one of the most important jobs in the hospital. If it wasn't for us, they wouldn't be able to operate.

"You're not just a cleaner. You have to know every bit of equipment for each type of operation."

She says it's a job she intends to stick at for life.

"I think I'll be here till I retire, because I enjoy it. Even though you are dealing with the same kind of equipment daily, you are still learning things just about every day."

Entry requirements

To become a sterilising technician you need to:

  • gain a position as a trainee sterilising technician
  • register with the New Zealand Sterile Services Association
  • study for a Certificate in Sterilising Technology (Level 3), from New Zealand Open Polytechnic. Most sterilising technicians study by correspondence while working and training on the job.

Secondary education

No specific secondary education is required to enter this job, but English, maths, health education and biology to at least NCEA Level 3 are useful.

Personal requirements

Sterilising technicians need to be able to:

  • pay attention to detail
  • communicate effectively with different types of people
  • follow instructions
  • work as part of a team with other health professionals.

Useful experience

Useful experience for sterilising technicians includes work in health administration or health services.

Physical requirements

Sterilising technicians need to have good hand-eye co-ordination.


The New Zealand Sterile Services Association recommends that sterilising technicians register with them.

Find out more about training

New Zealand Sterile Services Association (NZSSA)
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Chances of securing a job as a sterilising technician are best if you approach employers directly. Holding a National Certificate in Sterilising Technology will increase your chances as well.

Turnover among sterilising technicians is average, so vacancies sometimes occur.

Job opportunities better in urban areas

Vacancies for sterilising technician jobs are more common in cities as there are more positions available there. 

Sterilising technicians usually work in the health sector

Sterilising technicians usually work for district health boards, private hospitals and clinics. A few work in other areas such as tattoo parlours, beauty therapy, the military and education providers such as the University of Otago.


  • New Zealand Sterile Services Association website, accessed June 2017, (www.nzssa.org).
  • The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand website, accessed June 2017, (www.openpolytechnic.ac.nz).
  • The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, June 2017.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Sterilising technicians may move into other areas of the health services industry. Some may progress to become team leaders or anaesthetic technicians.

Close up of hands stacking a variety of scissors and forceps on a spike

Sterilising technicians need to be familiar with all equipment used in different operations

Last updated 8 September 2020