How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician

Sterile processing technicians typically focus on maintaining the good hygiene of medical equipment. They always make sure that these equipment are safe for the use of patients. 

Therefore, if you are interested in working in a hospital surgical facility, you can consider joining the sterile processing technician unit. 

Also, to become certified, it is crucial to be certified and educated, earn more experience, advance your knowledge and skills, and understand the role better. This will help you to earn more and get recognized for your abilities. 

Therefore, This article will guide you toward everything you need to know on how to become a Sterile processing technician. 

Who Is a Sterile Processing Technician?

A sterile processing technician also called a central service professional is a health care professional who plays a critical role in preventing infection by sterilizing, assembling, storing, distributing, processing, and cleaning medical supplies.

They prepare surgical units for emergency and scheduled surgeries. Also, A sterile processing technicians is usually responsible for cleaning and maintaining their professional equipment and fixing whichever one needs to be repaired or replaced. 

They utilize special sterilization equipment, such as autoclaves, which help to decontaminate reusable medical tools. 

There are other sterile processing technician titles that most people don’t know about, such as Sterilization technician, Certified registered central service technician (CRCST), Sterile processing and distribution technician (SPDT), and Medical equipment preparer.

What Does a Sterile Processing Technician Do?

A sterile processing technician identifies common pathogens in a medical setting and applies sterilization techniques to prevent surgical equipment and tools are free from getting contaminated by bacteria. 

A sterile technician also stores and transports surgical and sterilization equipment. Moreso, sterile processing technicians study microbiology and infection prevention to maintain perfect skills for the proper cleaning of medical equipment. 

What Are The Required Skills For a Sterile Processing Technician?

Here are some of the required skills for a sterile processing technician:

1. Sterilization Methods

As a sterile processing technician, it is crucial to know and understand how to perform sterilization techniques. To carry out this sterilization technique, you need to have skills in the following areas:

Low-temperature sterilization makes use of ethylene oxide, liquid chemicals, gas plasma, and vaporization/

2. Cleaning, Disinfection, And Decontamination Process

The basic components, are having enough skills in cleaning, storing, sanitizing, decontaminating, and disinfecting the surgical equipment in the laboratory. 

You need to have basic skills in areas such as:

Recognizing the appropriate disinfectant to use 

Knowing how to perform specific disinfecting processes, requires you to have skills in areas, such as storage, diluting, record keeping, and rinsing.

3. Communication Skill

As a certified technician, you must maintain regular contact with your medical team to be able to provide status reports, schedule repairs for equipment, and prepare surgical units for operations and emergencies

4. Collaborative Skill

As a sterile processing technician, you need to learn how to work with a team and other personnel to prepare equipment for procedures. 

However, your team should be responsible for preparing equipment promptly to ensure that the surgery goes well. 

5. Infection Control

Being a certified technician you should find it easier to recognize infection before it spreads. 

Infection control is the process that helps to prevent the spread of infection before it gets worse. Moreover, as a sterile processing technician, it is important to be familiar with infection control techniques, such as antibiotics or other methods, to help keep the surgical unit safe. 

How Long Does It Take To Become a Sterile Processing Technician?

Sterile processing technicians play a crucial role in preventing infections by recognizing them and finding possible solutions to get rid of them, either through sterilization, processing,  assembling, or cleaning them with chemicals. 

Becoming a sterile technician depends on your skills and experience in the medical unit. It takes from 10 weeks to two years to become a certified sterile processing technician. To become a sterile processing technician may vary, although most programs last between 4 to 8 months. 

However, the most crucial part is completing an accredited sterile processing program, either in a university or college. About 30% of sterile technicians have a two-year associate degree in sterile processing. Other programs only last for about 41 weeks or around 10 months. 

How To Become a Certified Sterile Processing Technician

Here is a guide on how to be certified:

1. Choose a Sterile Processing Technician Program

There are numerous sterile technician programs at community colleges, online, and training schools. This program help you kick start your sterile processing program career. 

So, depending on the type of program you choose, some programs last for two years, some last for weeks, and some last for months. 

2. Enroll In a Program

Before you can enroll in any sterile processing technician program, ensure that you are meeting the basic requirements for the program you want to apply for. 

Some programs require candidates to complete an entrance exam to evaluate their eligibility and qualifications, as well as their capabilities of managing coursework. 

After successfully passing the entrance exam, aspiring sterile processing technicians may participate in courses covering the following subjects: 

  • Cleaning and disinfection.
  • Microbiology.
  • Anatomy and physiology.
  • Using and storing surgical instruments.
  • Medical and surgical terminology.
  • Sterilization and decontamination. 
  • Sanitation and prevention of infection.

3. Reach Out To Advisers

Before enrolling in a program, ensure that you speak to an adviser for advice. You can write out your questions and schedule an appointment with an adviser. 

Nevertheless, advisers are always willing to answer any questions that arise related to the field.

These advisers provide necessary details about courses and share scheduling information. 

Most advisers can also help aspiring technicians secure financial aid for their education. This will help candidates to pursue their target career goals in the future. 

4. Complete High School

Most employers at least still consider a high school diploma or equivalent to hire you to work. 

However,  it is crucial to have at least a high school diploma certificate. To prepare for your target career, you can consider taking courses in medicine, biology, and chemistry. 

During your high school education, you can also consider researching sterile processing technician programs near you. 

5. Complete An Internship

Internship is vital and you can apply for internships while you are still pursuing your education or after you complete the program.

Also, Internships will help you achieve more practical skills and experience in the workplace. Clinical internship opportunities can help you skills learn in the classroom and apply your knowledge in a more professional environment. 

Therefore, internships can help you receive an offer for permanent employment in the future. It is an ideal option for aspiring students to consider internships in their field. 

6. Enroll And Pass a Certification Exam

There are different certification exams that you can apply for to begin your career.

Also, two main accrediting bodies offer certification for sterile processing technicians. This includes The International Association of Healthcare Central Service matériel Management (IAHCSMM) and the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD). 

Each of these organizations offers a certified exam requiring a specific amount of work experience, the certification is valid for five years. 

IAHCSMM

The exam the IAHCSMM offers requires candidates to have at least 400 hours of practical experience in the following: 

  • Sterilization and disinfection 
  • storage and distribution 
  • decontamination 
  • preparing and packaging instruments 
  • equipment use, maintenance, and management 
  • quality assurance processes 

CBSPD

The CBSPD’s exam varies depending on your experience and education. Candidates must fulfill one of the following requirements:

  • Working for 12 months in healthcare products sales related to sterile processing equipment 
  • Finishing six months of full-time experience in a clinical healthcare position and spending an extra six months focusing on technician responsibilities 
  • Completing 12 months of full-time work experience as a sterile processing technician 
  • Passing a sterile processing technician course with a minimum grade of 70%

How Much Does It Cost To Become a Sterile Processing Technician?

The cost of becoming a sterile processing technician usually varies and depends on the course you want to apply for. The class ranges around $400 to $3,000, but some programs may cost more or even less. 

So, if you are thinking about training to become a sterile processing technician, there are different ways you can learn. 

You might prefer learning online, or maybe you prefer a hands-on approach at a community college or trade school. 

The online training for sterile processing technicians costs between $1,500 to $3,000. Compared to other methods. A certificate program for sterile processing technicians at a community college costs between $5,000 to $8,000. 

An associate degree from a technical institution in a community college is about $20,000, making it the most expensive way to train. Most students end up taking out loans for education. 

One of the major advantages of becoming a sterile processing technician is the quick entry into the field without spending much money, and online programs make it more possible in just 4 to 6 months. 

How To Become a Sterile Processing Technician Salary

The average salary of a sterile processing technician depends on the position of the worker in the medical field. The average salary for a sterile processing technician ranges between $11.56 to $35.30 per hour in the United States. 

The salary also depends on the state in the United States. In some states, it is more than $35.30 per hour, while in some states it is less. A sterile processing technician earns an average annual salary of $44,940 per year.

Highest Paying Countries For Sterile Processing Technicians

Here are some of the highest-paying countries for sterile processing technicians:

1. Canada

  • Yukon Hospital cooperation: $31.28 per hour 
  • IWK Health Center: $22.17 per hour 
  • Saskatchewan Health Authority: $21.82 per hour 
  • Nova Scotia Health Authority: $24.55 per hour 
  • Government of Prince Edward Island: $24.81 per hour 
  • Victoria Bc: $28.06 per hour 
  • Whitehorse, YT: $31.28 per hour 
  • Vancouver, BC: $28.06 per hour 
  • Halifax, NS: $24.38 per hour 
  • Saskatoon, SK: $22.05 per hour 

2. United States Of America 

  • Trusted health: $39.65 per hour 
  • Triage: $31.53 per hour 
  • VR Della infoTech: $36.03 per hour 
  • cross country nurse: $34.69 per hour 
  • Cleveland, OH: $37.64 per hour 

3. Australia 

  • Newcastle NSW: $$5,4263 per year 
  • Melbourne VIC: $63,573 per year 
  • North Adelaide Melbourne: $54,185 per year 
  • South Eastern Sydney local health district: $59,086 per year
  • Ramsay health care: $58,084 per tear
  • Mid North Coast Local Health District: $61,823 per year

4. United Kingdom 

  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust: £23,476 per year 
  • Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust: £23,339 per year 
  • Nuffield Health: £22,575 per year
  • London: £23,703 per year
  • Aylesford: £23,378 per year
  • Bristol: £22,704 per year 
  • Truro: $23,500
  • Runcorn: £30,905 per year

Top Sterilization Technician Schools In The USA

Here is a list of the top sterilization technician schools in the US:

1. American Career College 

2. California Career Institute, Garden Grove 

3. Central Arizona College 

4. City College Of Francisco 

5. Community College Of Denver

6. Dakota College At Bottineau

7. Empire College 

8. Grand Canyon University- Online 

9. Laurus College 

10. New Bridge College 

11. Northwest College 

12. Orange Coast College 

13. U.S. College (USCMED)

14. University Of Alaska- Fair Banks

15. Wallace State Community College 

Conclusion

A sterile processing technician is an expert in cleaning, sterilizing, and handling medical equipment in the surgery facility. 

However, this article has provided a guide on how to become a sterile process technician, and we hope it is helpful to your search.

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Reference

  • Indeed.com
  • fortis.edu
  • herzing.edu
  • Vocationaltraininghq.com

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