Becoming a sterile processing technician is a great way to start a career in the healthcare industry without requiring advanced degrees. Here are five things you should know if you’re considering a career as a sterile processing technician:

1. Sterile processing technicians are an important part of the healthcare team

Sterile processing technicians, also known as medical equipment preparers or central service technicians, have a vital role in indirectly delivering patient care and ensuring the success of surgeries and other medical procedures. They are responsible for carefully preparing, installing, assembling, cleaning, and sterilizing all the healthcare and lab equipment used in health examinations, operations, and other medical procedures.

As a sterile processing technician, you will have to ensure strict adherence to sterilization processes and that equipment and supplies are safe to be used daily across patients. 

2. Sterile processing technicians earn a strong annual income

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national average salary for sterile processing technicians is $49,910, however, professionals in this field in San Diego County earn an average annual salary of $61,776.

Some of the top-paying industries for sterile processing technicians include state and private hospitals ($62,390), medical equipment wholesalers ($50,520), ambulatory healthcare services ($48,860), healthcare stores ($37,650), and medical equipment leasing companies ($37,280).

3. Sterile processing technicians have great work opportunities and growth potential

According to labor analytics data from Lightcast, sterile processing technician jobs are expected to grow 16% through 2033 in the San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad Metro region. This is almost three times faster than the average expected growth for all jobs in the US. Top employers of these professionals in San Diego County include Sharp Healthcare, Scripps Health, the University of California and the San Diego Blood Bank.

With the projected growth in the number of aging adults and the prevalence of chronic illnesses among them, demand for healthcare services and the equipment used to diagnose, monitor, and treat illnesses will increase. Therefore, more sterile processing technicians will be required to make sure that all medical devices and equipment are safe to use and function to their fullest potential.

4. Sterile processing technicians have high career satisfaction

Most sterile processing technicians work full-time in hospitals and surgical centers. They usually have a large space to work in that encompasses machines for sterilizing healthcare equipment. Some sterile processing techs also work as contractors, which might require traveling long distances to perform needed repairs.

Apart from the monetary benefits and growth prospects, working as a sterile processing technician will give you a lot of personal job satisfaction. One of your main duties as a sterile processing tech will be to ensure all the equipment used for medical operations and procedures is sterilized. Your job will contribute significantly to ensuring safe, successful medical care, helping to avoid huge complications like getting the patient infected and thus worsening the case.

5. Sterile processing technicians do not need to have a degree

You do not need a degree to become a sterile processing technician. According to Zippia, many people entering this field only have a high school diploma. Therefore, it is one of the easiest ways to enter the healthcare industry. However, you will likely need to enroll in a professional training or certification program that teaches the skills needed on the job.

A certification can validate your competency and expertise, making you more attractive to employers. It can also increase your prospects for advancement. Most employers, especially those in hospitals, often pay for their in-house sterile processing technicians to become certified.

Many sterile processing technicians also decide to earn a professional certification such as the Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) certification offered by the Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA). This certification helps to improve their job prospects and earning potential. 

Whether you are looking for an in-demand job, a good salary, job fulfillment, or a way to support the provision of quality patient care, entering the healthcare industry as a sterile processing technician is a great choice.

Want to learn more about starting a career as a certified sterile processing technician? Explore our 100% online Sterile Processing Technician course.