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.

Featured School

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.

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:

  • Fortis 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.
  • The Association for Advancement of Medical Instrumentation in Arlington, VA, offers individual training courses in sterilization. Classes include Ethylene Oxide Sterilization, Industrial Sterilization and Radiation Sterilization for 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.