How To Become A Sterile Processing Technician in Nebraska

It’s not something one usually thinks about: how do the tools and equipment our doctors and nurses use to treat and diagnose us get cleaned and sterilized? These items need to be spotlessly clean and completely sterile, meaning that they are unable to transmit infection between patients or from caregivers. Sterile processing technicians are the highly skilled specialists that do this work, and they are in demand in healthcare settings everywhere, including in Nebraska.

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Requirements for Becoming a Sterile Processing Technician in Nebraska

Nebraska’s department of public health does not certify or supervise sterile processing technicians, but any reputable employer will require that you carry certification from a major national certifying body. The most widely accepted certification is the Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) award from the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management – an international body that represents, tests and sets standards for sterile processing techs.

The certification requires two steps: passing an exam, which costs $125 and is taken at a testing center in your area, and 400 work experience hours. This experience can be obtained through a training program or apprenticeship, hours on the job or a combination of the two. Specific numbers of hours of work experience in various areas of the field are required:

  • 120 hours decontamination experience
  • 16 hours equipment maintenance
  • 120 hours equipment packaging and preparation experience
  • 24 hours experience in quality assurance and processing
  • 96 hours experience in disinfection and sterilization
  • 24 experience hours in storage and distribution

The exam is a proctored test taken in person, not online. Once you’ve obtained your certification, you’ll need to re-register annually and show that you’ve completed a few hours of continuing professional education. You can also improve your employability by obtaining advanced certifications such as endoscope processing, instrumentation or managing a sterile processing department.

Although you’re unlikely to have much direct patient contact, sterile processing techs work with precision equipment in a healthcare setting, so you’ll usually need to be at least 18 years old and have a high school or general equivalency diploma. You also may need to be able to pass a criminal background check and a drug screen, and to have your vaccinations up to date.

Training Programs for Sterile Processing Technicians in Nebraska

Here are a few examples of training courses and programs for sterile processing technicians in Nebraska:

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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.

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in Nebraska the average annual salary for sterile processing technicians is about $36,000, with high-earning senior techs receiving about $48,000 per year.

Nationally, the number of jobs available for sterile processing techs is expected to grow by eight percent by 2028.

Working as a Sterile Processing Technician in Nebraska

Unusual for jobs in the medical field, sterile processing techs generally benefit from predictable, daytime hours, but some evening and weekend work can be required if there is a surge in surgical procedures. The work can be physically demanding, with lots of standing, carrying and lifting as well as exacting hand and visual work. There is a significant paperwork and compliance requirement for the role, and surprise and scheduled inspections are common. Available roles at hospitals, clinics and diagnostic facilities are often advertised on major job sites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter and Monster.