How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician in Iowa
Sterile processing technicians, also known as central service technicians and medical equipment preparers, are responsible for cleaning, sterilizing, preparing and installing equipment used by doctors, nurses and other techs.
This is an important role in the healthcare industry, as it reduces infections and improves patient safety. To become a sterile processing tech, you do not need a degree or a lengthy education. In Iowa, you can be ready to land a job in a matter of months.
Iowa Sterile Processing Technician Requirements
Sterile processing is an important job, but it does not require a degree or specific credentials. Iowa has not set any specific requirements for sterile processing techs. An employer may hire you and provide training on the job. In this situation, the only requirement is a high school diploma or GED.
A more common way to become a sterile processing technician in Iowa is to complete a post-secondary certificate or diploma program. Many employers prefer to take on techs with some education and training. Most programs take less than six months to complete and prepare you to begin working right away.
Academic Programs for Sterile Processing in Iowa
Iowa has a handful of sterile processing technology programs to choose from:
- Kirkwood Community College. This program is located at the Kirkwood Regional Center at the University of Iowa in Coralville. Students complete 100 hours of non-credit courses in 10 weeks and are prepared to pass an exam for certification. The program includes 40 hours of work experience at a local hospital.
- Iowa Western Community College. Located in Council Bluffs, this program prepares students to pass the certification exam and includes work experience. The cost is currently just $775, but Iowa residents can get tuition assistance as well.
- Des Moines Area Community College. DMACC offers a sterile processing supply technician course with 60 contact hours and 24 hours of career readiness programming. Twenty hours of the program include clinical experience in the area. Students should be ready to pass the certification exam upon completion.
Should You Become a Certified Sterile Processing Tech?
While most programs for sterile processing technicians prepare students to pass a certification exam, earning this credential is not a requirement. There are good reasons to become certified. It is a credential that shows employers you are a good job candidate and prepared to do the work. It could also help you earn a higher salary.
The International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management is the most widely-recognized organization offering certification for sterile processing. There are five levels, but beginners in the industry start with the introductory certification.
Job Growth Outlook and Salary Expectations
The employment growth for Sterile Processing Technicians in the United States is robust, with an average growth rate of 8 percent. In Iowa, the growth is slightly more modest but remains strong. According to the latest data, Iowa is expected to see a 6.8 percent increase in jobs for this occupation over the coming years.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an annual average salary nationwide of $41,480 for Medical Equipment Preparers as of 2022. In Iowa, the average salary is somewhat competitive at $36,040, reflecting the state’s lower cost of living. The top 10 percent of earners in Iowa make upwards of $49,510 per year. Salaries can vary based on factors such as workplace, years of experience, and professional credentials.
National vs. Iowa Salaries:
Salaries and Percentiles by Region in Iowa:
|Region||10% Low||25% QL||Median||75% QU||90% High|
|Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL||$30,920||$35,120||$36,040||$45,030||$46,410|
|Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA||$31,390||$32,280||$35,670||$37,640||$47,540|
Medical Equipment Preparers Employment Trends in Iowa
In Iowa, the employment outlook for Medical Equipment Preparers is positive, with a projected growth rate of 5% from 2020 to 2030, according to Projections Central. The state had 440 employees in this occupation in 2020, and this number is expected to rise to 460 by 2030. This growth is anticipated to result in about 60 job openings each year over the decade, which includes new positions and replacements for vacated ones.
Comparatively, the national employment for Medical Equipment Preparers is also projected to grow by 5% from 2022 to 2032, which is considered faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The United States is expected to have 66,700 employees in this field in 2022, with a projected increase to 70,300 by 2032, leading to about 9,500 job openings annually.
Employment Trends for Medical Equipment Preparers
|Employment (2020/2022)||Projected Employment (2030/2032)||Projected Growth (2020-2030/2022-2032)||Projected Annual Job Openings (2020-2030/2022-2032)|
Sources of Data:
- For Iowa-specific employment projections, the data is sourced from Projections Central, which offers the 2020-2030 long-term projections for state-level occupational employment.
- The national employment projections are obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides the 2022-2032 employment projections for various occupations across the United States.
Working as a Sterile Processing Technician in Iowa
In Iowa, a Sterile Processing Technician plays a vital role in the healthcare system, ensuring the sterilization and readiness of medical equipment for patient care. The state offers a stable job market for this profession, with a projected employment growth of 5% from 2020 to 2030. With an average salary of $36,040, which is competitive within the region considering the cost of living, technicians can expect to find opportunities across various healthcare settings. The demand for these skilled professionals is consistent, reflecting the importance of maintaining high standards of hygiene and safety in medical environments. As such, working as a Sterile Processing Technician in Iowa can provide a rewarding career with a balance of job security and a supportive community.