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.
Salaries and Job Outlook in Iowa
Growth across the U.S. for sterile processing technology is strong at eight percent. In Iowa, the growth is a little slower but still impressive. According to Projections Central, Iowa will see a 6.8 percent increase in jobs over the coming years.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an annual average salary nationwide of $39,530 for medical equipment preparers. Iowa’s average salary is a little lower at $35,620, but the cost of living here is lower than the national average. The top 10 percent of earners in Iowa make more than $48,000 per year. You can earn more depending on where you work, years of experience and credentials.
Finding a Sterile Processing Technician job in Iowa
Hospitals are the major employers of sterile processing techs, but you can also find jobs in dental offices, physician offices and outpatient medical centers. Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and surrounding areas should have the most job opportunities and highest salaries.
Some examples of recent job listings in the state include: sterile processing tech, Favorite Healthcare Staffing, Des Moines; instrument technician processing, UnityPoint Health, Waterloo; sterile processing technician, Mary Greeley Medical Center, Ames; and sterile processing technician — evenings, UnityPoint Health, Cedar Rapids.