A Career as a Sterile Processing Technician in Montana
The concept of infection control revolutionized modern medicine, driving death rates down for childbirth and surgical procedures. A core part of infection control is sterility, meaning a surface, space or instrument can’t transmit infection to a person. Modern hospitals and clinics rely on sterile processing technicians to make sure instruments are able to be properly cleaned and reused, and this skilled position is in demand across the country.
Requirements for Sterile Processing Technicians in Montana
Only four states – Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Tennessee – register or certify sterile processing technicians. In Montana, hiring managers will look for applicants who have earned, or are in the process of earning, a national certification from a reputable organization.
For sterile processing techs, the most widely recognized credential is the Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) certification, issued by the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM). You’ll need to have a high school or general equivalency diploma to get started, and in many workplaces you’ll need to be in reasonable health with up-to-date vaccination records. You also may need to be able to pass a drug screen and a criminal background check.
To get certified, you’ll need to undergo a rigorous test and complete hundreds of hours of training in a central services department, with a specific number of hours for each aspect of the role. You can get your training on the job, as part of a training program or with a combination of the two. Hours requirements are as follows:
- Decontamination procedures (120 hours)
- Preparation and packaging of instruments (120 hours)
- Sterilization and disinfection (96 hours)
- Storage and distribution (24 hours)
- Quality assurance procedures (24 hours)
- Equipment (16 hours)
The test costs $125 and takes place with a proctor at a special testing center. To maintain your certification, you’ll need to undertake a few hours of continuing professional education and re-register annually. You can also look into the more advanced certifications offered by IAHCSMM, such as endoscope preparation and the management of a central services department. These can make you more desirable to employers and can improve your compensation.
Training Programs for Sterile Processing Technicians in Montana
Although you don’t need to undertake formal training to take the test, there are advantages to doing so. Montana does not have programs specifically designed for sterile processing technicians, but there are a number of online programs that prepare students for certification. Here are a few examples:
- MedCerts is a fully online, US-wide program that prepares students for the CRSCT exam. The program can help place learners with a local externship for clinical experience. Financial aid is available.
- Ashworth College, also fully online, is open to learners across the US, and prepares students to take the CRCST exam. It can assist students with job placement and with finding work experience. Financial aid is also available.
- The New York Institute of Career Development is also open to students anywhere in the US and prepares students for the CRCST exam, as well as covering its cost. It has a well-developed network of job placements for graduates.
Job Outlook and Salary Expectations
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in Montana sterile processing technicians can expect to earn an average annual salary of about $33,400. High earners can reach an average salary of about $46,000.
Across the US, the growth rate for medical equipment preparers – a category that includes sterile processing techs – is projected to be eight percent by 2029, so it’s a field worth entering for those seeking stable employment.
Working as a Sterile Processing Technician in Montana
The work of a sterile processing technician is quite arduous, with lots of walking, lifting heavy equipment and performing painstaking hand and eye work. You’ll need to satisfy – and document your compliance with – meticulous safety regulations, and to be ready for scheduled and surprise inspections.
The hours for sterile processing techs are often quite regular and predictable, and shift work and traveling posts are also available. Hospitals, laboratories, diagnostic centers and clinics often hire sterile processing techs. You can search for available posts at major job websites like Indeed, Monster and ZipRecruiter.