Comparing the Difference between CBSPD and IAHCSMM

Comparing the Difference between CBSPD and IAHCSMM

Pursuing a career as a certified sterile technician can be rewarding. The role of a CST bears significance to the medical industry, and your valuable service will always be sought after. But before you officially become a member of a hospital’s Sterile Processing department, you’ll need to obtain CBSPD or IAHCSMM certification.

What are the CBSPD and the IAHCSMM?

Two major certifying organizations for sterile processing technicians are the International Association of Healthcare Central Sterile and Material Management (IAHCSMM) and the Certification Board of Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD). Both are accredited and recognized globally. However, either organization may differ in prerequisites, recertification and renewal process, exam contents, and employer preference.

If you pass the CBSPD exam, your certification is called the Certified Sterile Processing and Distribution Technician (CSPDT). Meanwhile, taking and passing the IAHCSMM exam will reward you with Certified Registered Central Service Technician or CRCST certification.

What are the Differences between the Two?


CBSPD – The CBSPD does not require you to enroll in a course. You must submit your application before being permitted to take the exam.

IAHCSMM – For the IAHCSMM, you are required to have only ONE of the following before taking the exams:

  • Completion of 12 months of full-time employment doing Sterile Processing Department activities
  • Completion of SPD course with a passing grade of 70 or higher
  • Completion of 6 months (each) of full-time healthcare-related employment
  • Completion of 12 months of SPD-related healthcare product sales and service


CBSPD – There are different types of certifications available under CBSPD, but this article will focus on two:

  • Passers without hands-on experienceare provided with the Provisional Certificate with (6) six months validity.
  • For passers with 400 hours of hands-on experience within the span of 6 months, they are issued the full certificate.

IAHCSMM – Taking and passing the IAHCSMM exam will reward you with a full certificate.

Exam Procedure and Content

CBSPD – The CBSPD exam may have the following:

  • 150 items, multiple choice
  • 3 hours exam duration
  • Passing score of 70
  • $125 exam fee ($150 outside the US and Canada)
  • Prometrics Testing for the testing Center

IAHCSMM – The IAHCSMM exam may have the following:

  • 125 items, multiple choice
  • 2 hours exam duration
  • 70% grade average
  • $125 exam fee
  • PSI Testing for the testing center

Recertification Process

CBSPD–CRSTs are required to recertify through completion of continuing education annually.

IAHCSMM – CDSPDTs are required to recertify through completion of continuing education every (5)five years.

Employer Preference

Employers from different locations and health institutions may have varying certification preferences. Some areas may want CRST applicants, while some may ask for CDSPDTs. Research is the best way to know which employer will accept your certification.

No certificate is better than the other, so the choice is entirely up to you.

Looking for a training program effective for your Sterile Processing Technician certification? Visit Martinson College at their website to learn more.