Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) Pilot Exam

The introductory certification for Sterile Processing (SP) professionals.

The CRCST certification program is designed to recognize entry-level and existing technicians who have demonstrated the experience, knowledge and skills necessary to provide competent services as an SP technician. CRCSTs are integral members of the healthcare team who are responsible for decontaminating, inspecting, assembling, disassembling, packaging and sterilizing reusable surgical instruments or devices in a healthcare facility. While the CRCST program is based on US practice and standards, it is in harmony with international ISO standards and open to all candidates in the US and abroad who meet the eligibility requirements.


As part of HSPA’s ongoing test development process, an update to the CRCST exam will launch in the fall of 2024, beginning with a Pilot exam in June, 2024.

A discounted pilot test for the updated exam will be offered from June 1 – 15, 2024. Following the June pilot, CRCST testing will not be available from June 16 – September 9, 2024. Regular, ongoing testing of the updated exam will resume September 10, 2024.

The Pilot exam, as well as the updated exam moving forward will be based on the 2023 CRCST exam content outline, and utilize HSPA’s Sterile Processing Technical Manual (Ninth Edition), ANSI/AAMI ST79 (2017), and AORN’s Guidelines for Perioperative Practice (2023). More information regarding the updated exam, its new content outline and references, and links to apply can be found below. Pilot exam applications were due by May 30, 2024.



When is the CRCST pilot exam?

The CRCST pilot exam is offered June 1 – 15, 2024. Candidates must be able to site for the exam between these dates to participate in the pilot.

What is tested on the CRCST pilot exam and how can I prepare?

This is a pilot form of the new CRCST exam that will launch officially on September 10, 2024. For details on the exam content, please access the Exam Content Outline, revised November, 2023.

HSPA further recommends reviewing the list of reference materials for the exam.

How much will the pilot exam cost?

The pilot exam is being offered for $98 – a 30% discount off the regular testing fees!

How many people can participate?

Our minimum goal is 200 pilot participants with global representation, however, more applications may be accepted if we are able to process them.

What language is the pilot offered in?

As with all HSPA exams, the pilot will be offered in English only.

How is the pilot exam different from the regular exam?

The pilot exam is based off the new Exam Content Outline, revised in November, 2023. The pilot allows us to test new exam questions according to the new exam content, and gather data before the new CRCST exam goes live in September, 2024. However, pilot participants will not receive a pass/fail score immediately upon finishing the exam. Exam analysis will occur for several weeks following the pilot end date, and candidates can expect to receive their results by October, 2024.

Candidates who take the new exam starting in September, 2024 will receive their results immediately at the testing center.

What are the prerequisites to apply for the pilot exam?

To apply for the pilot exam, please submit either the Online Application or the Paper Application (by fax/mail) no later than May 30, 2024. You will need to submit your completed hands-on hours of experience (if applying for Full CRCST certification), as well as your application payment of $98.00. Once submitted, please allow 3-4 weeks for processing.

When will pilot participants receive their exam results?

Candidates will receive notification of a passing or failing result, as well as certification or information on applying to test again, by the end of September, 2024.



In addition to passing the certification exam, 400 hours of hands-on experience are required in order to obtain CRCST status. To apply for the CRCST examination, you must satisfy the requirements of one of the following options:

  1. Provide 400 hours of hands-on experience during the previous five years, preceding the application.

Firsthand experience is essential to supplement an individual’s understanding of Sterile Processing knowledge and concepts and to illustrate their practical use.

  1. Provide 400 hours of hands-on experience within six months of passing the certification exam.

Documentation of the completed hours of hands-on experience must be submitted to HSPA prior to the six-month expiration date. Failure to submit these hours within this designated time frame will result in a forfeiture of your Provisional CRCST certification, and you will need to reapply for the certification exam.


This course is offered through Purdue University. It is NOT an HSPA product. It is preparation for the exam only, and passing a course does not equate to Certification.

Required Hours of Experience

How many hours of hands-on experience are required?

400 hours of experience must be completed in a Sterile Processing department (SPD), on a paid or volunteer basis. These hours can be completed before testing or within six months of passing the exam (see options above). Hands-on experience provides an invaluable resource with which to better understand the standards, knowledge, and practices needed to be successful in an SPD and on the exam. These hours are broken down into the following areas of experience:

  • Decontamination (120 hours)
  • Preparing & Packaging Instruments (120 hours)
  • Sterilization & Disinfection (120 hours)
  • Storage & Distribution (24 hours)
  • Quality Assurance Processes (16 hours)

Please be aware that HSPA does NOT provide placement services. It is your responsibility to find a department in which to complete your hours.

If you are unsure whether your department is authorized to sign off on your hours, please complete our form request using the button below:


What is the rationale for requiring these hours?

HSPA believes that both training and experience for entry into practice contribute to the delivery of quality patient care. The rationale for the experience requirement of the Sterile Processing (SP) role is consistent with the most recent job analysis conducted, where 80% of the work of the SP is hands-on experience in a hospital setting. The 400 hours requirement affirms the need for a minimum of 10 weeks (400 hours) of experience.

The experience component, which is divided into five areas of hands-on work, is based on industry and Subject Matter Expert surveys and recommendations and demonstrates an applicant’s practical understanding and application of the knowledge assessed on the certification exam. The hands-on experience requirement represents the largest domain in the recent job analysis for SP technicians. The categories of experience, the tasks that comprise them, and the percentage of time required for each were calculated through an industry-wide job task analysis.

How do I submit my hours if I tested for Provisional CRCST?

If you tested as a Provisional CRCST, you may submit your hours of experience using the Provisional Certification Authentication Form below:


(!) Failure to submit these hours within this designated time frame will result in a forfeiture of your Provisional CRCST certification and successful completion of a retake exam will be required. A one-time, 2-month extension is available to those who are currently working or volunteering within a SPD and approaching the end of their 6 month provisional period. An extension request must be made prior to the expiration of your provisional status, by the supervisor of the department in which you are completing your hours.

Verification of Requirements

Hands-on experience is required for your examination, and documentation of that experience must be provided on the exam application as indicated. No other documentation is necessary or acceptable.

The sections of your application documenting your experience must be completed by your department’s immediate manager/supervisor. An individual may never document their own experience.

Provided they are in a position above your own then experience hours can be documented by:

  • Lead technicians, coordinators, or supervisors
  • Managers, chiefs, directors, or administrators
  • Hospital-based educators or trainers

Hours cannot be documented by technicians or private instructors. In order to verify experience, all contact information provided for the manager or supervisor documenting your hours must be current or your application will be rejected.

Hands-on hours can be accumulated on a paid or volunteer basis and you need not be currently employed or volunteering with a facility in order to test.

Applications requiring hands-on experience may be subject to verification before processing. Once selected for verification an application cannot be processed further until the manager/supervisor documenting the applicant’s hours of experience can be contacted and the experience confirmed. If the listed manager/supervisor cannot be reached for confirmation the application will be returned, unprocessed. If the manager/supervisor is reached but refutes the information submitted in any way, the application will be sent to the Certification Council for further investigation and review.

Applicants who have submitted a completed application and who are notified that they do not meet the eligibility requirements may appeal this decision by sending a written notice of the appeal to the Certification Council within 30 days of the time stamp on the eligibility decision. Appeals that cannot be resolved to the applicant’s satisfaction will be forwarded by the Certification Manager to the Certification Council for review along with any relevant information from the initial review of the application. Written notice of the final decision will be sent to the applicant within 30 days of the review. The decision of the Certification Council will be final.

Exam Preparation: Self-Study vs. Work Experience

Option 1: Online/Distance Learning Course

Purdue University offers an online or by mail course designed to help prepare individuals for the CRCST exam. You can find out more about the course by calling Purdue at 800.830.0269 or visiting their website.(!)

Option 2: Self-Study

You may purchase reference materials and choose to study on your own to prepare for the CRCST exam. For the Pilot exam, you may utilize the SP Technical Manual, 9th Ed (2023). This, along with ANSI/AAMI’s ST79 (2017), and AORN’s Guidelines for Perioperative Practice (2023), were used for reference in creating the CRCST exam. You can order these publications through myhspa.org and aornstandards.org (!)

Option 3: Work Experience

You may take the exam based on your personal knowledge from experience in the field. It is not required that you take or pass a preparatory course or study materials on your own. Applicants can apply directly to take the exam without purchasing study materials or enrolling in a course.


  • Courses are preparation for the exam only. Passing a course does not equate to certification.
  • HSPA’s Education department has developed the materials above as an optional method to assist individuals in preparing for the CRCST exam. The material was developed and produced independently from the Certification Council, which does not develop, require, approve, or endorse any specific training materials.

Content & Composition of the Exam

Exam Content Outline

The CRCST exam will test your proficiency in the following areas:

  • Cleaning, Decontamination & Disinfection
  • Preparation & Packaging
  • Sterilization Process
  • Sterile Storage, TRANSPORT & Inventory Management
  • Patient Care Equipment & DISTRIBUTION

Each of the seven knowledge domains listed above is comprised of a series of sub-domains which are explained in further detail in the CRCST Exam Content Outline (updated November, 2023). The Content Outline also describes further detail on the type and amount of content covered in each section, as well as its weight on the certification exam.

Exam Structure

  • The exam is computer-based and no writing instruments are needed (a written version of the exam is not available)
  • The current version of the test is comprised of 150 multiple choice questions
  • You will have three hours in which to complete the exam
  • Questions can be marked for review and answered or changed later in the exam
  • A 15-minute tutorial describing how to take the exam on the computer precedes the test and is also available online, below



Validate that you meet the eligibility requirements detailed above and in the HSPA CERTIFICATION HANDBOOK and apply today.

Required Experience Documentation

  • CRCST Exam: 400 hours
  • Provisional CRCST Exam: 400 hours (submitted within 6 months of passing the exam)

Application Fees

  • Pilot Exam: $98
  • Retake Exam: $140
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Application fees include the application processing and one exam attempt (in-person at a Prometric Testing Facility). Additional fees are required for each exam retake, as shown above. Please allow 3-4 weeks for processing.

*Any requests for cancellations or refunds must be made within 30 days of payment. If made within 30 days, your payment will be refunded in full, minus a $25 non-refundable processing fee.