Sterling attended grade school at the Broadway School in Woodstock NB. He graduated from Fisher Memorial High School, Woodstock NB in 1928. Attended University of New Brunswick for one year. Due to illness and "the depression" he quit university during the second year.
Sterling worked at odd jobs around the community of Lower Woodstock for a time during the depression. In the summer of 1933, Sterling with his cousin Henery E. Yerxa and several other young men left for the west. Sterling worked as a farm labourer and in sawmills in northern Alberta.
He homesteaded in Alberta in 1936. After their marriage, Sterling and May in 1946 homesteaded at Dell AB, about 20 to 25 miles from Fairview AB. In later years they moved into Fairview so the children could attend High School. Sterling worked at a sawmill (North Canadian Forest Industries) in the Hines Creek District until he retired in 1975