If you’re interested in finding out “what is a sterile processing technician?” here we will take a look at this profession, find out what the tech does on a daily basis and we’ll also learn about the education requirements and the type of hourly rate you can anticipate for the first few years of your career.

Working in this type of position will not require a formal education; however there are programs for this specific career field, which can be found at community colleges or vocational schools. After graduation, many techs will choose to demonstrate their level of competency by taking and passing the certification exam for this field, however, it’s not typically a position requirement. Before landing employment, the tech will need to have their immunizations up to date and will have to undergo a criminal background check.

What Techs Do

In this position the healthcare professional will work by assembling and sterilizing medical equipment that is used for surgical procedures. They will also usually be responsible for ordering and taking inventory of medical equipment and supplies. The work environment for this position includes private practices, medical clinics, surgery centers and hospitals.

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The main responsibility for the tech will be to ensure all equipment and instruments that are used during a procedure are sterile and clean. This can entail performing the cleaning of medical tools by hand, prior to the sterilization process and then placing the cleaned instruments into a sterilizer, all while monitoring the procedure to ensure the autoclave is functioning properly. Techs also need to examine medical equipment and tools and ensure that they aren’t defective or damaged and report these results to the staff, while also testing out the autoclaves and recording the results with each use. Assembling instrument trays and checking that medical supplies have not expired can also a part of the techs responsibilities.

Education Options and Program Information

Realistically, having a high school diploma or GED will usually be the only education requirements you’ll need in order to become a sterile processing tech, however, there is training available through schools that offer six to twelve month certificate programs or you can look into associate’s degree programs that are offered. Statistically speaking, 40% of all techs have completed a formal training program, while the other 60% will only have a high school diploma. The education and training courses for this field will cover topics such as equipment management, medical terminology, aseptic techniques and sterilization techniques. Other programs can also include lab courses, professional development classes and basic computer courses.

To obtain certification as a processing tech you can choose to go through a number of accredited healthcare organizations and take the certification exam. To be eligible for the exam the applicant will need to have obtained 300 hours of experience working in the field. The exam will consist of a few different sections; with the student having six months total to complete every section. The exam itself will consist of a total of 125 multiple choice questions and will require a passing score of a C or better.

Now that you know “what does a sterile processing technician do?” you can begin researching the available programs in your area or looking into local medical facilities in order to determine the qualifications you’ll need for employment. While having formal training and certification isn’t a requirement, it can help significantly, when it comes to landing a position, or standing out from your competition. You might also be able to find hospitals that offer a type of on the job training program, which will usually take one to two months to complete.


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