Mastering the IAHCSMM Exam Requirements: Your Ultimate Guide for 2024 Certification

Navigating the IAHCSMM exam requirements is a critical step in earning your Sterile Processing credentials. This article breaks down the eligibility prerequisites for the CRCST, CIS, and CEER certifications, detailing the hands-on experience and educational criteria needed. With this focused guide, you’ll gain a roadmap to what’s required, help you plan your certification journey, and set the stage for elevating your career in the healthcare industry.

Key Takeaways

  • The IAHCSMM (now HSPA) exam certifies Sterile Processing technicians with various certifications including CRCST, CIS, CEER, CHL, and CCSVP, essential for enhancing expertise and career opportunities in the field.
  • Eligibility for IAHCSMM certifications requires candidates to complete specific hands-on experience hours and pass respective exams; the CRCST exam being a foundational certification with 400 required hands-on hours.
  • Maintaining IAHCSMM certifications like CRCST, CIS, and CEER necessitates earning annual continuing education credits, with specific activities such as college courses related to Sterile Processing contributing to these credits.

Understanding the IAHCSMM Exam: An Overview

Established in 1971, the IAHCSMM exam was designed to certify Sterile Processing technicians, demonstrating their competency to provide reliable and competent services. Today, the HSPA administers this certification exam, which is recognized within the industry as a key credential for Sterile Processing professionals.

The HSPA offers various certifications, including:

  • Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST)
  • Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS)
  • Certified Endoscope Reprocessor (CEER)
  • Certified Healthcare Leadership (CHL)
  • Certified Central Service Vendor Partner (CCSVP)

Each of these certifications plays a vital role in validating the expertise of professionals in the Sterile Processing field and enhancing their career opportunities.

Eligibility Criteria for the IAHCSMM Exam

Candidates need to fulfill certain eligibility criteria to acquire an IAHCSMM certification. These include completing a prescribed number of hands-on experience hours, such as 400 hours for CRCST certification, and providing proper documentation of this experience.

Applying for provisional certification entails choosing the appropriate certification, submitting evidence of relevant hands-on experience on a paid or volunteer basis, paying the obligatory fee, and finalizing the application.

CRCST Certification Requirements

The Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) certification is the introductory certification for Sterile Processing professionals, and the crcst certification program emphasizes the critical roles of:

  • Decontaminating
  • Inspecting
  • Assembling
  • Packaging
  • Sterilizing reusable surgical instruments or devices.

As outlined by the certifying body, candidates have two paths to qualify for the CRCST exam. The exam requires candidates to complete 400 hours of hands-on experience in the following areas:

  • Decontamination
  • Preparation and packaging
  • Sterilization and disinfection
  • Storage and distribution
  • Quality assurance processes
  • Equipment

CIS Certification Requirements

The Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) certification is designed for professionals who have advanced knowledge and skills in handling medical instruments within Sterile Processing departments. Before taking the CIS exam, candidates must hold a current, full CRCST certification.

Candidates must accumulate 200 hours of practical work experience in a Sterile Processing department to qualify for the CIS certification. To achieve CIS certification, candidates must pass an exam that assesses their proficiency in instrument reprocessing, support system functions, and recognition of medical instruments.

CEER Certification Requirements

The Certified Endoscope Reprocessor (CEER) certification is designed for technicians who specialize in the reprocessing of endoscopes and related devices. To be eligible for the CEER certification, candidates must hold a current CRCST certification.

A minimum of 400 hours of practical experience in endoscope reprocessing is required for candidates pursuing CEER certification. The CEER certification exam assesses the candidate’s proficiency in various aspects of endoscope reprocessing, including:

  • Cleaning
  • High-level disinfection
  • Storage
  • Handling of flexible endoscopes

Exam Registration Process

The registration process for an HSPA exam entails filling out an application form and providing all necessary information. The process usually takes three to four weeks. Once the application is approved, a scheduling email is sent to the candidate, instructing them to schedule their exam at a Prometric Testing Facility during a 90-day testing window.

The exam fee for certifications like CIS and CRCST is $140, which is inclusive of the application processing fee and one attempt at the exam. This fee is non-refundable, except in the case of cancellation within 30 days, subject to a $25 processing fee.

Exam Format and Content

A close-up of a person taking a certification exam, carefully answering multiple-choice questions. The exam format and content are accurately reflected in the image.

Multiple-choice questions are a standard format across all IAHCSMM exams, regardless of the particular certification. For example, the Certified in Healthcare Leadership (CHL) exam comprises 150 questions that must be completed within 120 minutes.

The CIS exam specifically covers content areas related to inventory management, focusing on the inspection and packaging of surgical instruments.

CRCST Exam Details

The IAHCSMM CRCST exam comprises a total of 150 multiple-choice questions, with 100 of these being completed within a span of 120 minutes. The exam will assess your knowledge in 7 key areas of sterile processing:

  1. Cleaning
  2. Decontamination
  3. Disinfection
  4. Preparation
  5. Packaging
  6. Documentation
  7. Sterilization

This comprehensive coverage will test your understanding in various critical aspects of the field. Out of the 150 questions, 125 are scored, and 25 are unscored pretest questions for test takers.

Candidates need to secure a minimum score of 70% to clear the CRCST exam. The question format is multiple-choice, designed to evaluate the competence of entry-level central service/sterile processing technicians.

CIS Exam Details

The Certified Instrument Specialist (CIS) exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. Candidates have three hours to complete the CIS exam, which covers content areas related to the inspection and packaging of surgical instruments.

CEER Exam Details

The Certified Endoscope Reprocessor (CEER) exam consists of:

  • 150 multiple-choice questions
  • Candidates have a total of three hours to complete the exam
  • The exam encompasses knowledge areas specific to endoscope reprocessing

The CEER exam topics include cleaning, high-level disinfection, storage, and handling of flexible endoscopes, following industry standards and manufacturers’ instructions.

Scoring and Passing the IAHCSMM Exam

The scoring for IAHCSMM exams requires a minimum passing score of 70 or higher, reflecting the candidate’s preparedness for the role. To pass the CRCST exam, a candidate must achieve a scaled passing score of 70, with each correct answer being worth 1 point.

Both the CEER and Certified in Healthcare Leadership (CHL) Exam require a minimum passing score of 70%. The final score for the IAHCSMM exams is determined by the total number of correct answers provided out of the total number of exam questions.

Preparing for the IAHCSMM Exam: Tips and Resources

Engaging in exam practice tests from various providers, such as iPrep and Exam Edge, can simulate the CRCST test environment and highlight areas requiring further study. Regular practice test sessions can give insights into actual exam performance and provide confidence in mastering the test’s content areas. Utilizing exam prep resources alongside these practice tests and taking a practice exam can further enhance your preparation process.

Formulating a study plan also plays a significant role in achieving exam success. This involves:

  • Using the Certification Handbook and Exam Content Outline
  • Taking courses like Purdue University’s CRCST preparation course
  • Combining hands-on experience in Sterile Processing, self-study, and the feedback from practice tests to ensure an extensive understanding of the exam content.

Maintaining Your Certification

To maintain IAHCSMM certifications like CRCST, CIS, and CEER, candidates must earn specific annual continuing education (CE) credits. For example, CRCST requires 12 annual CE credits focusing on sterile processing advancements. Continuing education credits can be earned by completing technical or community college courses related to Sterile Processing with a grade of C or better, and must be submitted with an official transcript for approval.

Certification renewals are processed annually by submitting the required number of CE credits along with the renewal fee before the certification expiration date. Here are the steps to renew your certification:

  1. Submit the required number of CE credits.
  2. Pay the renewal fee of $50.
  3. Optional: Include an additional $10 for HSPA membership.
  4. Renew online for faster processing or renew by mail (which can take an additional two to three weeks).

Exam Day: What to Expect

Prometric Testing Facilities worldwide offer HSPA exams, including the CRCST, year-round. These exams are available at various locations for candidates to take. To prepare for these exams, candidates can utilize hspa practice tests available online. Candidates should reach the testing center a minimum of 30 minutes before their scheduled exam time to finish the required check-in procedures. Test centers do not allow individuals who are not scheduled to take an exam to wait in the facility, so candidates should make transportation arrangements accordingly.

Candidates must bring one form of valid identification that includes their photo and signature, and the name on the ID must match the name on the scheduling letter. Acceptable forms of identification include:

  • Driver’s license
  • State ID card
  • Military ID
  • Student ID
  • Employee ID
  • Passport

The ID must be current and valid (not expired).

Handling Exam Results

CRCST exam results are provided immediately at the testing center after completion and displayed on the screen, with an email notification also sent to the candidate. If candidates do not pass, they receive a detailed report within a week that breaks down their performance in each exam section and across various topics.

A certification package is sent within two weeks of passing the exam to successful candidates. Candidates who fail the exam can retake it after a 6-week waiting period and upon payment of a non-refundable fee, with no limits on the number of exam attempts.

Career Opportunities and Benefits of IAHCSMM Certification

Securing an IAHCSMM certification such as CRCST enhances professional credibility and paves the way for career growth opportunities. The benefits of obtaining a CRCST certification include:

  • Increased professional credibility
  • More competitive position for job openings in sterile processing departments
  • Ability to provide reliable and competent services to meet the expectations of patients and healthcare facilities

By obtaining a CRCST certification, you can position yourself for success in the field of sterile processing.

The Certified Central Service Vendor Partner (CCSVP) certification is designed for Sterile Processing (SP) suppliers, demonstrating their understanding of critical SP concepts and processes. This adds to their professional credibility, making them more competitive in the industry.


This guide has provided an extensive overview of the IAHCSMM exam and the various certifications offered by the Healthcare Sterile Processing Association. From eligibility criteria, exam format, and scoring to maintaining your certification and handling exam results, we have covered all the essential aspects.

Obtaining an IAHCSMM certification is a significant step towards advancing your career in the healthcare industry. It not only strengthens your professional credibility but also opens up new opportunities in sterile processing departments. As healthcare continues to evolve, the need for certified professionals will continue to rise. So, take the step towards certification and contribute to ensuring the highest standards of patient safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is HSPA the same as IAHCSMM?

No, HSPA is not the same as IAHCSMM. HSPA, formerly known as IAHCSMM, offers certifications for central service technicians and instrument specialists, while IAHCSMM provides certification for sterile processing technicians. These certifications are industry-recognized credentials.

What is the pass rate for the CRCST exam?

The pass rate for the CRCST exam was 75% in 2021, showing that it’s not an easy test to pass.

How to get 400 hours for CRCST?

You can get 400 hours for CRCST by completing experience in a Sterile Processing department (SPD), either on a paid or volunteer basis, either before testing or within six months of passing the exam.

What is the passing score for the Iahcsmm test?

The passing score for the IAHCSMM test is 70% or higher. This score is required to attain an IAHCSMM CRCST certification.

What is the IAHCSMM exam?

The IAHCSMM exam is a certification exam administered by the Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA) to certify Sterile Processing professionals, offering certifications like CRCST, CIS, CEER, CHL, and CCSVP.