Decontamination technician

Decontamination technicians work in teams that decontaminate reusable medical devices to ensure they are returned to the users in a sterile condition for reuse on patients. These devices, which are used to carry out operations, procedures or examinations, might come from:

  • theatres
  • wards
  • clinics

As a decontamination technician, you’ll provide a safe and efficient service to all specialties, including:

  • orthopaedics
  • general surgery
  • ear, nose and throat (ENT)
  • ophthalmic
  • gynaecology
  • urology

Starting your career

Subject choices

To become a decontamination technician, you need a good standard of education. There are no entry requirements, but useful subjects include:

  • Science
  • English
  • Maths

An SVQ3 in Decontamination might also be useful to work as a decontamination technician.

Work placements and volunteering

You may find it helpful to get some experience of working in healthcare by doing a work placement. There may also be opportunities to volunteer. This could help you when applying to university, college or a new job with NHSScotland.

Training programme

You’ll begin a training programme once you start work as a decontamination technician. The programme lasts one year. During training, you’ll be mentored and supported by colleagues and a supervisory team.

The training will make you multi skilled, meaning you can handle medical devices for all specialities in every work area of the unit. 

The role

As part of the decontamination unit, you’ll be working in 3 different areas. These areas are separated into rooms, known as the:

  • washroom
  • cleanroom
  • steriliser room

The washroom is where devices are first received. They’re checked in this room and prepared for cleaning and disinfection in an automated washer disinfector machine.

The cleanroom is the area for inspecting, function testing, assembling and packaging medical devices.

Finally, once a device has passed all the earlier stages and checks, it will be moved to the steriliser room. Here, the packaged device will be sterilised before being sent away for use.

What you’ll do

As a decontamination technician, you’ll work with a variety of medical devices, carefully following guidelines and procedures to make sure they’re properly decontaminated.

Every medical device needs to be:

  • disassembled
  • cleaned
  • disinfected
  • checked
  • reassembled
  • packaged
  • sterilised
  • despatched
  • tracked

You’ll use a range of automated equipment to carry out these tasks.

Once you’ve completed your training, you may also be expected to help train junior staff in your service.

Top skills

You’ll need these skills:

  • attention to detail
  • communication
  • time management
  • organisation

You should also have basic computer skills.

Who you’ll work with

You’ll work alongside other decontamination technicians and senior supervisors in the decontamination unit.

Working environment

You’ll work a rotating shift rota as a decontamination technician. You could be working in the washroom, cleanroom or steriliser room during your shift.

Did you know?

Decontamination technicians know how to clean around 20,000 different kinds of reusable medical devices.

Learning and development

With training and experience, you could become a supervisor, where you’ll train and manage decontamination technicians.

Professional bodies

Once you become a decontamination technician, you can register to join the Institute of Decontamination Sciences (IDSc).