Becoming a Sterile Processing Technician in the District of Columbia
Sterile processing technicians are an essential part of the healthcare community, as they are responsible for the decontamination, cleaning and sterilization of medical and surgical equipment. This job is crucial to keeping patients safe from hospital-acquired infections and the spread of potential pathogens. If you are interested in working as a sterile processing technician, you will want to know that the job requires minimal patient contact, a strong eye for detail and good physical stamina.
Aside from cleaning and sterilization, working in the field involves inspecting equipment’s packaging for soiling and tears, tracking expiration dates and meticulous record-keeping. In addition, technicians double as inventory managers and delivery personnel. In fact, a good part of a technician’s day may be spent ensuring equipment is returned to the proper department, where it may be needed emergently.
Most sterile processing technicians work in a hospital, so they typically work long hours, overtime, weekends, holidays and on-call. If this job sounds like a good fit for you, keep reading below to get started.
Do Washington, D.C. Sterile Processing Technicians Need a License?
A license is not required to work as a sterile processing technician in Washington, D.C. In fact, there is no district-wide oversight for the career. However, sterile processing technicians face significant on-the-job scrutiny, as the work is vital to continued patient safety. Additionally, central sterile processing departments are typically headed by a licensed professional, often a registered nurse.
Training for Sterile Processing Technicians in the D.C. Area
Becoming a sterile processing technician requires a great deal of knowledge about the techniques and equipment used for decontamination. As such, acquiring training in the field is essential. Sterile processing technicians will need to have received a high school diploma or equivalent as a prerequisite to career-specific training. Once obtained, you can become trained on the job or through an appropriate training course.
In the Washington, D.C. area, there are a few choices for training programs, including the following:
In nearby Landover, MD, offers a Sterile Processing Technician Training course. Students will gain the knowledge they need to work in an entry-level position in hospitals, doctors’ offices, outpatient clinics or diagnostic centers. The training includes microbiology, infection control and sterilization methodology.
- Training Components: The program at Fortis includes:
- Instruction on Cleaning and Sterilization: Students learn proper techniques to clean and sterilize medical instruments.
- Microbiology and Infection Control: The program covers essential aspects of microbiology and methods to control infections.
- Instrument Handling: Training includes understanding the proper names and categories of medical instruments and how to transfer and store them to maintain their sterility.
- Practical Experience: The program combines classroom study with practice in lab environments, offering hands-on, real-world experience.
in Arlington, VA, offers individual training courses in sterilization. Classes include Ethylene Oxide Sterilization, Industrial Sterilization and Radiation Sterilization for Medical Devices.
- Latest Sterilization Technologies and Methods: The program provides up-to-date information on various sterilization technologies and methods, ensuring participants are well-versed in current industry practices.
- Sterilization Standards and FDA Requirements: It covers essential sterilization standards and FDA requirements, crucial for those involved in product design and product release decisions in the medical device industry.
- Critical Factors in Product Design: The training addresses critical factors in product design that affect sterilization, an important aspect for ensuring the safety and effectiveness of medical devices.
Attaining Credentialing as a Sterile Processing Technician
Although there are many organizations through which you can seek accreditation, a popular one in the industry is the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materials Management (IAHCSMM). You can achieve their Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) designation by passing an exam. Credentialing requirements vary depending on the preferences of hiring managers and organizations, but acquiring a certification is a career boost regardless of regulations and is highly recommended for anyone entering the field.
Sterile Processing Technician Wages in Washington, D.C.
Sterile processing technicians in the District of Columbia reported above-average wages in 2019, with average annual salaries of $48,850 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). By comparison, the average wage nationally was $39,530. Salaries in the district ranged from $34,500 to $68,400, allowing plenty of room for advancement with experience.
Career Advancement Opportunities in the District of Columbia
This career appears to be experiencing significant growth, with Projections Central predicting an additional 20 job openings in Washington, D.C. over the next 10 years. This data translate to an 8.7 percent increase in job openings between 2018 and 2028.
Some potential employers in D.C. include MedStar Health, Johns Hopkins Medical, Howard University Hospital, Sibley Memorial Hospital and Children’s National Medical Center.
Job Growth Outlook and Salary Expectations
Sterile Processing Technicians in the District of Columbia earn an average annual salary of $51,530, which is notably higher than the national average of $41,480 for this occupation. The lower 10% of earners in D.C. make $40,040 or less, while the top 10% can earn $78,430 or more. This suggests that D.C. offers a lucrative environment for professionals in this field, with the potential for significant financial growth as one gains experience and expertise.
Salary Comparison between National and District of Columbia
|Annual Low (10%)
|Annual Median (50%)
|Annual High (90%)
|District of Columbia
Salaries and Percentiles by Region in District of Columbia
|Annual Low (10%)
|Annual Median (50%)
|Annual High (90%)
Medical Equipment Preparers Employment Trends in D.C.
The employment outlook for Medical Equipment Preparers in the District of Columbia, which includes Sterile Processing Technicians, shows a positive trend. In 2020, there were 160 employees in this occupation. By 2030, the projected employment is expected to increase to 170 employees, indicating a growth rate of 6%. This growth rate is slightly above the national average of 5% for the same period. The District is also projected to have about 20 annual job openings from 2020 to 2030 due to growth and replacements.
Employment Trends for Medical Equipment Preparers
|Projected Employment (2030/2032)
|Projected Growth (2020-2030/2022-2032)
|Projected Annual Job Openings (2020-2030/2022-2032)
|District of Columbia
Sources of Data:
The data for the employment trends of Medical Equipment Preparers in the District of Columbia is sourced from Projections Central, which provides state-specific projections for the period from 2020 to 2030. The national data is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which offers federal-level employment projections for the period from 2022 to 2032.
Working as a Sterile Processing Technician in D.C.
Working as a Sterile Processing Technician in Washington D.C. offers a promising career path within the healthcare industry. With an average annual salary of $51,530, which is well above the national average, technicians in D.C. are well-compensated for their critical role in maintaining the sterility and functionality of medical instruments. The job market is also showing positive growth, with a 6% increase in employment projected from 2020 to 2030, indicating steady demand for these professionals. In the nation’s capital, Sterile Processing Technicians are essential to the operations of numerous prestigious medical facilities, contributing to the high standards of patient care and safety in this densely populated metropolitan area.