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.

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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.

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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.

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 offered include:

Live Stream Classes (Zoom Sessions)

  • Format: These classes are conducted virtually through Zoom, allowing for interactive and remote learning.

In-Person Classes

  • Locations: Classes are held in Riverside, CA, and Whittier, CA.
  • Features: These classes provide an instructor-led, traditional classroom experience

Online Independent CRCST Course

  • Format: A self-paced online course that is accessible 24/7.
  • Content: Includes pre-recorded video lectures, progress tests, chapter reviews, and a final exam.
  • Support: Offers career support, resume-building tools, and mock interviews.

Additional Features Across Courses

  • Career Support: Includes resources and tools for career development in Sterile Processing, such as mock interviews and resume-building.
  • Internship Assistance: Some courses offer assistance with obtaining hands-on internship hours in local hospitals.
  • Industry Experience: Instructors with over 35 years of experience in Sterile Processing.

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.

Job Growth Outlook and Salary Expectations

In California, Medical Equipment Preparers, which include sterile processing technicians, earn an average annual salary of $60,200, which is significantly higher than the national average of $41,480. The entry-level salary in California starts at the lower 10% percentile, with workers earning $37,850 or less. For the most experienced technicians in the top 10%, annual salaries can reach $82,540 or more.

Salary Comparison between National and California

Location Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
United States $31,570 $41,480 $62,960
California $37,850 $60,200 $82,540

Salaries and Percentiles by Region in California

Region Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA $37,390 $52,880 $72,040
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $43,850 $77,630 $94,520

Medical Equipment Preparers Employment Trends in California

In California, the employment trends for Medical Equipment Preparers, which include sterile processing technicians, indicate a positive outlook. The state had 7,900 employees in this occupation in 2020, and the number is projected to increase to 8,800 by 2030, reflecting an 11% growth. There are also projected to be about 1,100 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)
California 7,900 employees 8,800 employees 11% 1,100
United States 66,700 employees 70,300 employees 5% 9,500

Sources of Data:

  • For California-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 California

Working as a Sterile Processing Technician in California offers a promising career path with competitive compensation. With an average annual salary of $60,200, which is well above the national average, technicians in this field are rewarded for their crucial role in maintaining the sterility of medical equipment. The state projects an 11% growth in employment from 2020 to 2030, indicating a robust job market. California’s diverse regions offer varying salaries, with some areas like San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward providing significantly higher wages. The demand for these professionals is driven by the healthcare industry’s need for meticulous sterilization processes, ensuring patient safety and supporting surgical and medical procedures across the state.

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