How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician in Arkansas
Contemporary healthcare involves the use of some very specialized equipment, some of which is disposable and some is repeatedly sterilized and reused to diagnose and treat patients. A sterile processing technician’s job is to make sure that valuable and delicate equipment is properly cleaned and sterilized so it cannot transmit infection to patients or medical staff. This crucial role is needed throughout the country, and sterile processing technicians can look forward to hard work and a valuable and stable career.
Requirements for Becoming a Sterile Processing Technician in Arkansas
Only four states certify or regulate sterile processing techs, and Arkansas is not one of them. However, employers almost invariably require that techs are certified by one of the reputable, national certifying bodies – the most well-known is the Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA), which awards the Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) certification.
This is an in-depth certification and requires passing an in-person exam with a cost of $125. You will also be required to show proof that you’ve had hands-on experience in the laboratory, totaling 400 hours.
There are specific requirements for each aspect of the job:
- Use of sterilizing equipment: 16 hours
- Quality assurance standards: 24 hours
- Methods of storage and distribution: 24 hours
- Sterilizing and disinfecting methods: 96 hours
- Correct packaging and preparation of sterilized equipment: 120 hours
- Techniques of decontamination: 120 hours
Certification must be renewed annually, requiring a small fee and the completion of a few hours of continuing education – this is often available through your training program. You can also get a specialized additional certification in instrumentation, the processing of endoscopes or how to manage a sterile processing department (often called “central services”).
Although you won’t necessarily have direct contact with patients, sterile processing techs handle delicate equipment and sensitive data, so you’ll need to be at least 18 years old and hold a high school or general equivalency diploma. You’ll need to be in reasonable health and, in some settings, be able to pass a criminal background check and a drug screen.
Training for Sterile Processing Technicians in Arkansas
Here are a few examples of Arkansas programs that train sterile processing techs:
- Based in Pine Bluff, Southeast Arkansas College offers an in-depth program that covers what’s needed to get ready for your certification exam. It includes everything from the methods for sterilizing equipment to how to comply with legal requirements for patient confidentiality. Financial aid is available.
- Based in Springdale, Northwest Technical Institute is a 14-week program that meets on weekday evenings, making it ideal for working people. Financial aid is available, and the program can prepare you for certification, including placing you with area facilities for your required experience hours.
- If you want to take an online course, MedCerts will prepare you for your CRCST exam through its entirely online program and a robust job placement department, which will help you get the necessary hands-on experience for your certification.
Job Growth Outlook and Salary Expectations
In Arkansas, Medical Equipment Preparers, which include sterile processing technicians, have an average annual salary of $35,310. The lowest 10% of earners in this field make $30,260 or less, while the highest 10% can expect to earn $41,280 or more annually.
Comparatively, the national average annual salary for this occupation is $41,480. On the national scale, the lowest 10% earn $31,570 or less, and the highest 10% earn up to $62,960.
Salary Comparison between National and Arkansas
|Location||Annual Low (10%)||Annual Median (50%)||Annual High (90%)|
Salaries and Percentiles by Region in Arkansas
|Region||Annual Low (10%)||Annual Median (50%)||Annual High (90%)|
|Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR||$30,260||$35,310||$38,240|
Medical Equipment Preparers Employment Trends in Alaska
The employment trends for Medical Equipment Preparers in Arkansas, which include sterile processing technicians, show a steady increase. In 2020, there were 300 employees in this occupation in the state. By 2030, the projected employment is expected to rise to 320 employees, marking a 7% growth. Arkansas is expected to have approximately 40 annual job openings from 2020 to 2030 due to growth and replacements.
Nationally, the number of Medical Equipment Preparers was 66,700 in 2022, with a projected increase to 70,300 by 2032. This represents a 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)|
|Arkansas||300 employees||320 employees||7%||40|
|United States||66,700 employees||70,300 employees||5%||9,500|
Sources of Data:
- For Arkansas-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 Arkansas
Central services departments don’t involve direct patient care but have plenty of scheduled and surprise inspections and lots of meticulous tasks and paperwork to fill out. It’s also quite a physical role, and you’ll be working on everything from tiny, sharp tools to huge and heavy equipment. Roles are often advertised on major job websites like ZipRecruiter, Monster and Indeed.