Becoming a Sterile Processing Technician in North Carolina
If you’re a detailed-oriented person who enjoys both physical labor and clerical work, a career as a sterile processing technician might be a good fit for you. Sterile processing technicians typically work in a hospital environment, disinfecting and sterilizing medical equipment. The job is essential to a functioning healthcare system, as properly processed equipment keeps patients safe from the spread of pathogens.
Aside from needing a great deal of knowledge about cleaning and sterilization equipment and techniques, sterile processing technicians are often responsible for the tracking and distribution of the inventory with which they work. In addition, technicians may spend a significant portion of the day delivering equipment throughout the hospital. Added to the time spent working on the equipment itself and the potential for long hours, including overtime, sterile processing technicians are often performing physical work. As such, physical stamina is a must for anyone considering this career.
North Carolina Licenses for Sterile Processing Technicians
Sterile processing technicians do not need to be licensed in North Carolina, nor is there a statewide oversight board for the profession. However, those working in the field will need to work under a licensed professional, typically a registered nurse. Additionally, sterile processing technicians work in a regimented environment, requiring adherence to procedures at all times.
Sterile Processing Technician Training Courses in North Carolina
Training in the field can be acquired either on the job or by taking a course through a university or trade school. A high school diploma or equivalent is a required prerequisite for training. Below is a small sampling of the available programs for sterile processing technicians in North Carolina.
- Fayetteville Technical Community College, with campuses in Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Spring Lake, NC, offers a Central Sterile Processing course. Students will receive entry-level competence through training and be qualified to sit for credentialing upon completion.
- Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, NC, offers a Central Sterile Processing Technician course. Students will learn the principles of sterilization and disinfection, along with inventory control, quality assurance and instrument distribution.
- Durham Technical Community College in Durham, NC, offers a Sterile Processing Technician course. Students will be trained to apply the standards of disinfection and sterilization in the workplace, as well as how to inventory and distribute supplies.
- Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College with campuses in Asheville, Candler, Marshall and Arden, NC, offers a Central Sterile Processing course. The program takes 180 hours to complete, and students will be qualified to take a certification exam upon graduation.
Accreditation is not universally required to work as a sterile processing technician. However, many organizations and hiring managers will look for certified candidates to fill positions. In addition, acquiring credentialing is a great way to gain promotions and increase your earning potential.
There are many organizations through which you can seek credentialing, so making an inquiry to potential employers as to their preferred choice is recommended before deciding.
Potential Earnings for Sterile Processing Technicians in North Carolina
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), sterile processing technicians in North Carolina made between $25,340 and $43,290 in 2019. The average annual wage in the state was $33,100, somewhat below the national average of $39,530 for this field. However, it should be noted that salaries often vary by location, depending on the local cost of living.
Career Opportunities in North Carolina
The BLS reports that sterile processing technicians are most often employed by medical and surgical hospitals, dentist’s offices and outpatient care centers. The highest paying industries for the career are scientific and consulting services, wholesale electronic markets and professional equipment wholesalers.
In North Carolina, potential employers include WakeMed, the Clorox Company, Mission Health, Norvant Health and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.