How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician in Arizona
Sterile processing technicians are essential, behind-the-scenes employees in all manner of medical facilities. Every day, they take the steps required to ensure that medical supplies and equipment are properly sterilized for future use. Without these services, no facility could provide the required safeguards against the spread of infection.
In Arizona, there are important perks to working as a sterile processing technician. For example, workers in this profession have the chance to work in a wide range of medical settings. These settings include hospitals, dentists’ offices, surgical centers and outpatient care centers. Arizona technicians also tend to receive solid salaries in return for their services. In addition, they form part of a robust sector of the U.S. labor market. To learn how you can take advantage of such appealing benefits, just continue reading this brief introductory guide.
Do You Need Certification or Licensing?
Arizona’s Department of Health Services has no specific licensing or certification requirements for sterile processing technicians. In theory, you can apply for open positions in your area without any prior experience or knowledge. However, if you do so, you will probably face some very stiff job competition. That’s true because many technician applicants do have a prior background in the field. Such a background often includes some type of formal training.
If there are no specific legal requirements to fulfill, why do prospective sterile processing technicians take the time to get trained? One big reason is that working technicians rely on a range of skills while performing their jobs. Examples of these skills include:
- Detailed knowledge of surgical instrument construction
- Thorough ground in germ theory and infection control
- Awareness of current standards for decontamination and sterilization procedures
- The ability to understand and use surgical/medical terminology
- The ability to understand and use anatomy- and physiology-related terms
If you are familiar with these topics before applying for work, you stand a greater chance of getting hired. You will also gain the knowledge needed for national certification as a sterile processing technician. While this certification is not required by the State of Arizona, it will typically boost your appeal in the eyes of potential employers.
Training Options in Arizona
Where can you go for training in Arizona? A number of the state’s educational institutions offer programs designed specifically for sterile processing technicians. A partial list of these providers includes:
- Brookline College – Brookline offers its 810-hour program in both Tempe and Tucson. Coursework includes the opportunity to practice your skills in a real-life operating room environment. It will take you 42 weeks to complete your training.
- Pima Medical Institute – Pima offers a highly detailed program for sterile processing technicians. Graduates complete a total of 13 classes that provide 500 hours of theory and lab work. In addition, they complete 400 hours of on-the-job training.
- East Valley Institute of Technology – This Mesa-based institution features an on-site sterile processing laboratory. Graduates complete a total of 600 hours of training.
Job Growth Outlook and Salary Expectations
In Arizona, sterile processing technicians, classified as Medical Equipment Preparers, have an average annual salary of $40,890. This is slightly below the national average of $41,480. The starting salaries for these technicians in Arizona are at the lower 10% percentile, earning $32,870 or less, while the most experienced technicians in the top 10% can earn $52,440 or more annually.
Salary Comparison between National and Arizona
|Location||Annual Low (10%)||Annual Median (50%)||Annual High (90%)|
Salaries and Percentiles by Region in Arizona
|Region||Annual Low (10%)||Annual Median (50%)||Annual High (90%)|
|Arizona nonmetropolitan area||$31,080||$38,410||$56,110|
Medical Equipment Preparers Employment Trends in Arizona
The employment trends for Medical Equipment Preparers in Arizona, which include sterile processing technicians, show a significant projected growth. In 2020, there were approximately 1,380 employees in this occupation in the state. By 2030, the projected employment is expected to increase to 1,940 employees, which represents a substantial growth rate of 41%. Additionally, there are projected to be around 260 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 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)|
|Arizona||1,380 employees||1,940 employees||41%||260|
|United States||66,700 employees||70,300 employees||5%||9,500|
Sources of Data:
- For Arizona-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 Arizona
Throughout the U.S., Americans pay close attention to the future prospects in their particular line of work. That includes sterile processing technicians, who belong to a group of workers known as medical equipment preparers. Fortunately, workers in this category are currently benefiting from a long-term, positive employment trend. In fact, by 2028, there will be about 4,600 more employed equipment preparers throughout America than there were in 2018.