Becoming a Sterile Processing Technician in Alabama

If you are interested in a career in healthcare that doesn’t require you to spend a lot of time in medical school, then you may want to consider working as a sterile processing technician.

Sterile processing techs have an essential role within the healthcare system. They are responsible for preparing, cleaning and sterilizing medical equipment. They may also perform some laboratory work and inspect or operate medical equipment. A sterile processing technician may also be known as a central service technician, central processing technician or a medical equipment preparer.

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Requirements to Become a Sterile Processing Technician in Alabama

Most states, including Alabama, do not have any specific educational or licensing requirements to work as a sterile processing technician. Employers are usually the ones who set the conditions for this profession. In most cases, you will need at least a high school diploma or GED as well as work experience or a two-year degree. Some places may hire someone without experience and train them on the job, but having an associate or technical degree in a health-related field or having some work experience will help give you an advantage over other potential employees.

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Penn Foster College – Online Sterile Processing Technician Certification

Take the first steps towards a career as a sterile processing technician with Penn Foster’s Sterile Processing Career Diploma. As a student in the program, you’ll be prepared to sit for the Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) exam through the Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA). Call 1-800-851-1819 today.

Alabama Training Programs for Sterile Processing

Here are a couple of the training options available to you in Alabama:

  • Jefferson State Community College. The program at Jefferson State gives students an overview of working in the sterile processing field and teaches the skills needed to succeed in this career, including sterile processing, infection control, the aseptic technique and inventory management. Students will complete a clinical rotation consisting of 103 clinical hours during the last four weeks of the program. Students who complete the program will receive a certificate of completion and be eligible to take the national certification examination. This program is offered at the Jefferson and Shelby-Hoover campuses, both in Birmingham.
  • Southern Union State Community College. This program trains students in specialty procedures, quality assurance, equipment storage, sterilization procedures and inventory management. Four hundred hours of hands-on experience must be completed during the program or within six months of completing the program. Students will receive an achievement award and be able to take the exam to get the national certification. This program can be completed in 10 to 15 weeks.

National Certification for Sterile Processing Technicians

It isn’t mandatory to become a certified sterile processing technician. However, there are certification benefits including more job opportunities and higher pay.

The International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management is the standard credentialing organization for central service, or sterile, processing. They offer five certification levels including entry-level, secondary instrumentation certification, endoscope reprocessing certification, central service management, secondary certification and central service vendor certification.

To obtain certification, you must apply and pay the application fee. Once you have been deemed eligible to take the examination, you can take it online at a Prometric testing center. You will be notified after taking the exam if you pass or fail. If you pass the exam, you will receive your certification within two weeks, and it will need to be renewed annually.

Job Growth Outlook and Salary Expectations

The employment growth for Medical Equipment Preparers in Alabama is projected to be slightly higher than the national average, with an 8.8 percent increase in the state compared to the national rate of 8 percent. In Alabama, it is expected that at least 140 job opportunities will arise in the coming years.

The annual mean salary for Medical Equipment Preparers in Alabama is $31,650, or approximately $15.22 per hour. This is below the national average annual salary of $41,480. Entry-level workers in Alabama may earn around $25,000 or less, while the top earners in the state can make up to $41,210 annually.

Salary Comparison between National and Alabama

Location Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
United States $31,570 $41,480 $62,960
Alabama $25,000 $31,650 $41,210

Salaries and Percentiles by Region in Alabama

Region Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
Birmingham-Hoover, AL $29,120 $31,750 $41,210
Columbus, GA-AL $26,560 $36,050 $48,470
Huntsville, AL $25,000 $31,590 $50,190
Mobile, AL $29,130 $29,390 $39,550
Tuscaloosa, AL $24,650 $31,650 $41,340

Medical Equipment Preparers Employment Trends in Alabama

The employment trends for Medical Equipment Preparers in Alabama indicate a positive growth trajectory. In 2020, there were 960 employees in this occupation within the state. By 2030, the projected employment is expected to rise to 1,060 employees, which translates to a growth rate of 10%. Additionally, there are projected to be around 130 annual job openings from 2020 to 2030 due to growth and replacements.

Nationally, the employment for Medical Equipment Preparers was at 66,700 employees in 2022, with a projected increase to 70,300 by 2032. This represents a national growth rate of 5%, which is considered faster than average. The projected annual job openings on a national level are estimated to be 9,500 for the same period.

Employment Trends for Medical Equipment Preparers

Location Employment (2020/2022) Projected Employment (2030/2032) Projected Growth (2020-2030/2022-2032) Projected Annual Job Openings (2020-2030/2022-2032)
Alabama 960 employees 1,060 employees 10% 130
United States 66,700 employees 70,300 employees 5% 9,500

Sources of Data:

  • For Alabama-specific data, the source is Projections Central, which offers state-level long-term projections for the period from 2020 to 2030.
  • For the national data, the source is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides federal-level employment projections for the period from 2022 to 2032.

Working as a Sterile Processing Technician in Alabama

Sterile processing technicians can be found working in hospitals, surgical centers, outpatient care centers, doctors’ offices and dental offices. Jobs may be easier to find in the higher populated cities like Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery.

Some of the typical healthcare facilities to work as a sterile processing tech in Alabama are St. Vincent’s Health System, Grandview Medical Center, Lexington Medical Center and Infirmary Health.