Becoming a Sterile Processing Technician in California
No hospital, dentist’s office or surgery center can operate safely without effective sterilization of equipment and supplies. To ensure that all critical safety standards are met, these facilities call on the talents of sterile processing technicians. Technicians in this category specialize in following the procedures required to stop the spread of dangerous, equipment-related infections.
If this kind of responsibility sounds appealing to you, you have a wealth of opportunities awaiting you in California. Sterile processing technicians living in the state make salaries that far exceed the nationwide norm for the profession. In addition, for a number of reasons, they can look forward to a growing market for their skills.
Before you get started on your employment plans, it helps to know the basics of what’s required for this attractive line of work. The information contained in this guide will point you in the right direction.
Formal and Informal Requirements for California Sterile Processing Technicians
California does not license or certify sterile processing technicians or other medical equipment preparers. All that you need to meet the state’s formal requirements is to graduate from high school or get your GED. However, experts recommend that you do more to prepare yourself for the sterile processing technician job market.
Why is this true? Some potential employers in California won’t even consider hiring you unless you can demonstrate previous experience. You can meet these employer standards in different ways. For example, you can find an in-state source for formal sterile processing technician training. Or, as an alternative, you can seek out another related job that will expose you to the knowledge used by working technicians.
Some people seek out national sterile processing technician certification as part of their training. To get certified, you typically have to complete an approved program of coursework and pass a follow-up exam. Why do all of this extra work? Certified technicians have proven skills and credentials. For this reason, they look very appealing to potential employers. What that may mean for you is a much easier time finding your dream job.
Training for Sterile Processing Technicians
Sterile processing technicians must know how to follow a range of sterilization and decontamination protocols. They must also possess a broad range of supporting knowledge and abilities. In California, a number of institutions offer programs that help you gain these essential skills. Examples of such institutions include:
- Central Sterilization School – This Southern California institution focuses on the use of virtual classes and independent learning. Courses are conducted by seasoned technicians and management personnel who know the ins and outs of the industry. Graduates complete a full 400 hours of on-site training in area hospitals.
- Contra Costa Medical Career College – This Bay Area institution offers both full-time and evening courses for sterile processing technicians. Both options provide you with 344 hours of classroom and lab instruction. In addition, they provide 256 hours of on-the-job training under the guidance of working professionals.
- Silicon Valley Surgi-Tech Institute – SVSTI breaks its coursework down into two parts. First is a 300-hour sterile processing program. This program is followed by 240 hours of supervised, on-the-job training.
Earning Potential for California Technicians
In California, sterile processing technicians make an average of almost $51,000 a year. This is more than $10,000 above the national earnings average. At the lower end of the scale, the state’s technicians make $39,000 or less. Annual salaries top out in the low $60,000s or above.
Job Prospects within the State
Between 2016 and 2026, California expects to increase its number of medical equipment preparers by 13 percent. This is considerably higher than the national employment projections. That’s just one more reason why it’s a good time to enter the sterile processing technician profession in California.