20 Reasons to Become a Sterile Processing Tech
Sterile processing technicians may have a behind-the-scenes role in the medical community, but they are also a crucial part of eliminating infections and maintaining supplies in hospitals and clinics. These professionals manually clean tools, monitor their cleaning in autoclaves, and examine them for flaws and irregularities. Techs may also be responsible for assembling surgical instrument trays, ordering supplies, and more.
You may know sterile processing techs by other names, including:
- certified registered central service technician
- sterile processing and distribution technician
- instrument technician
- sterilization technician
- medical equipment preparer
- medical instrument technician
Whether you’re looking for a new career path or you’re a recent high school graduate, allied healthcare is a fantastic sector to start your search. What’s more, a profession like sterile processing deserves a closer look. Here’s a list of reasons why you may want to sign up for a sterile processing technician program.
1. Get Started with a High School Diploma
You don’t need years of schooling to get into a sterile processing tech course. In fact, the major requirements for acceptance are a high school diploma (or equivalent), ambition, and a great attitude.
2. You’ve Got a Behind-the-Scenes Peek
When you start working as a sterile processing tech, you’ll frequent a lot of places around the hospital, from operating rooms to laboratories. While you might not be part of “the action,” you definitely get to see things that a lot of hospital workers don’t.
3. Find Work Almost Anywhere
Medical instrument technicians are an enormously important part of patient care, and they’re not just found at hospitals. As a trained professional, you’ll be needed anywhere from hospitals and outpatient care centers to dental offices and assisted living facilities across the country. Basically, wherever there are patients, there’s a need for your services.
4. Work on a Team and by Yourself
You’ll find that you’ve got a lot of flexibility in this line of work, and you’ll be expected to manage your tasks without a lot of supervision. That said, receiving orders from senior staff members is part of the job, so being able to take initiative (and constructive criticism) go a long way here.
5. You Enjoy Solving Problems
Are you the kind of person who, when encountering tricky situations in your daily life, is able to analyze the situation and come to a quick conclusion? Anyone in the medical field will tell you that things can go wrong at any time, but a calm demeanor and the ability to solve problems will save lives.
6. You’ll Keep People Healthy
Though you might not have many (if any) patient interactions, that doesn’t mean you aren’t a crucial part of the allied healthcare community. As a sterile processing technician, you’re the linchpin between sanitary tools and the professionals who use them. You’re also the person who catalogs and inspects all materials used, so if something is broken or functioning improperly, you are the one to catch it before it can cause possible harm.
7. You’ve Got a Critical Eye
Are you the type of person who can spot a needle in a haystack? Do you keep your desk or locker meticulously organized (so much so that your friends tease you about it)? In this line of work, your ability to spot something slightly askew can mean the difference between life and death.
8. You’ve Got a Strong Stomach
When it comes to your daily job, you’ll encounter instruments that have been used in or on patients. Not to worry: You don’t flinch when it comes to surgical videos, and blood doesn’t even phase you.
9. You’re a Bit of a Neat Freak
Preferring order and cleanliness is definitely not a bad thing. In fact, in this line of work, it’s downright necessary. Spotting imperfections in medical equipment helps to keep the spread of infection at bay.
10. Stability Without a Boring Desk Job
Sitting in a cubicle for eight hours a day probably doesn’t sound too appealing to most people. As a certified registered central service technician, you’ll be moving around your workplace to collect, decontaminate, and catalog tools, as well as pack and deliver them to various rooms. While this isn’t an incredibly physical job, it certainly isn’t stationary either.
11. Find Working Hours That Suit Your Needs
If you’re hired in a dental office, for example, it’s likely that you’ll work first shift with some possibility of evening hours. If you take a position in a busy hospital, however, there may be a much wider variety of scheduling opportunities (including weekends, nights, and holidays).
12. Uniforms Make Getting Ready Easy
Knowing exactly what you’re going to wear every day makes mornings a lot easier. Scrubs and supportive shoes are the standard uniform for almost every allied healthcare worker which is great since you prefer comfort and function over style anyway.
13. Choose an Educational Path That Meets Your Scheduling Needs
Many prospective central processing technicians worry about meeting course requirements if they have a family or a full-time job. Most schools understand this and offer daytime or evening classroom hours to provide a more flexible path for their students.
14. Hands-on Learning Is Key
Once you’ve passed your classroom portion, you will be placed at a clinical internship with a trained mentor who’ll help you every step of the way. This portion of your training is the best possible way to apply everything you’ve learned so far. You’ll build the practical skills you need to get ahead of the competition. It’s not unheard of for students to be hired directly after gaining their certification, owing directly to their aptitude during their internships.
15. Certification Without Spending a Fortune
Obtaining a 4-year degree sounds great, but most graduates face enormous student loans and a precarious future, unlike joining a healthcare certificate program. Once you pass your exams, you’ll have excellent entry-level positions to choose from – without collection companies hounding you for payments.
16. Opportunities Abound with Sterile Processing Certification
Because you’re going to school, it’s obvious you’re looking for more than ‘just a job’. With a career as a sterilization technician (and the right attitude), you can move your way up the ladder as a supervisor. With a window that allows you to peek into other medical careers, you can not only whittle down what you’re interested in but also what you’re great at. Some instrument preparers learn that they want a more hands-on job, and may later go back to school to become a surgical tech or an endoscopy technician.
17. Enter a Steady Workforce
The medical field is the fastest-growing sector in the country, and it’s set to increase by 20% through 2026. Much of this has to do with the aging baby boomer population, as well as the spike in patients with multiple chronic conditions. The sterile processing sector alone is expected to see growth of up to 14%.
18. Join a Growing Team
The medical field is comprised of up to 60% allied healthcare workers, so you’ll regularly meet fellow professionals who you can exchange tips and stories with. You’ll always have someone in your corner, and will know the latest developments in your sector.
19. Become a Leader in Your Field
Just like your internship mentors developed your personal skill sets, hospitals and clinics may rely upon you to train others. In addition to helping your employer, becoming an expert can help you work your way up the ladder to become, say, a sterile processing supervisor (which also comes with a much higher average salary).
20. Start Working in Less Than a Year
Most people don’t want to spend years getting their education. A major benefit of sterile processing programs is that it can be finished between 4 to 9 months, depending on your personal schedule. This is one of the quickest routes to becoming an allied health professional and gets you into an entry-level job fast.
How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician
When you’re looking at schools, be sure that they are accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. As for the application and financial processes, each school has their own requirements. Be sure to do some research beforehand. Most programs require a high school diploma (or its equivalent) and have minimum age requirements. Though few states require licensing, most employers prefer to hire certified sterile processing technicians. Therefore it is highly recommended that you take the Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) exam offered by Iahcsmm.