How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician in Colorado
A sterile environment is essential for protecting patient health in surgery centers, dentists’ offices and other medical facilities. For this reason, painstaking care is taken to ensure that proper decontamination procedures are in place. As a rule, the healthcare workers who play the central role in decontamination are sterile processing technicians.
For residents of Colorado, the sterile processing field offers some key employment advantages. These advantages include average annual incomes that exceed nationwide expectations for the industry. They also include plentiful work settings and a rosy outlook for future job prospects. If all of this sounds exciting to you, here is some key background information to help you gain a clearer perspective on your potential new profession.
Colorado Laws and Training Expectations
Like almost all U.S. states, Colorado does not have legislation that governs the work rules for sterile processing technicians. In practical terms, this means that you don’t need to worry about things such as:
- Getting registered or licensed by the state before seeking employment
- Meeting any state-mandated requirements for professional certification
- Taking continuing education classes to retain your right to work
But what about training? Can you successfully apply for a sterile processing position without any prior knowledge or experience? In all likelihood, no. This is true for some important reasons. For example, sterile processors must have a working knowledge of an array of detailed topics including:
- The dangers of various infectious microorganisms
- Modern infection control protocols
- Use of autoclaves and other devices needed to carry out effective sterilization
- Disassembly and reassembly of surgical tools and other equipment
Some healthcare facilities may train you how to do these things on the job. However, you should not expect this to be the case. Job applicants who know what they’re doing will almost always hold greater appeal than those who don’t. In some cases, you may even need to hold national certification in sterile processing in order to meet potential employers’ expectations.
Training Options for Colorado Sterile Processing Technicians
Fortunately, Colorado has multiple in-state options available for sterile processing training. Places that fulfill this role include:
- Aims Community College – Greely-based ACC offers a five-month program of sterile processing instruction. All major areas of knowledge are covered over the course of two semesters. The knowledge you gain will help you meet the national certification guidelines of the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management, or IAHCSMM.
- Front Range Community College – Front Range is based in Westminster. The school offers a one-semester, 18-credit program for would-be sterile processing technicians. Along with classroom instruction and lab work, this program features an apprenticeship with local Centura Health. Graduates are qualified to take the IAHCSMM certification examination.
- Pima Medical Institute – PMI has in-state locations for sterile processing training in Denver, Colorado Springs and Aurora. The organization also offers an online program. PMI utilizes a working laboratory to give all students a taste of a real-word processing environment. In addition, all graduates can sit for their IAHCSMM exam.
How Much Can You Make Working in Colorado?
In the eyes of government statisticians, sterile processing technicians are known as medical equipment preparers. The average yearly salary for these professionals in Colorado is about $43,500. This means that the state’s equipment preparers beat the nationwide earnings average by roughly $4,000. Will you make that much money when you first start working in the field? Almost certainly not. However, in time, your income may even exceed the state average.
Work Outlook for the Profession
There’s good news for anyone hoping to work as a medical equipment preparer. Current figures show that the profession is on a significant, prolonged upswing. Anyone entering the field in the next few years will be joining an expanding job market with plenty of annual growth and turnover.