How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician in New Mexico
Without effective equipment sterilization protocols, America’s health facilities would be overrun with serious outbreaks of infectious diseases. The danger is so significant that there are healthcare workers whose sole job is to sterilize all required tools and instruments. In most cases, these medical equipment preparers go by the name of sterilization processing technicians.
Thinking of starting a career as a sterile processing technician in New Mexico? There’s good reason to do so. The profession is well-respected and typically brings in a decent income for working techs. What’s more, given the increasing importance of accessible healthcare, sterile processors can anticipate plenty of future job security. But before you get your job search underway, there are some key things you must know. This brief guide to the most important topics will help you prepare for what’s ahead.
New Mexico’s Laws for Sterile Processing Technicians
With very few exceptions, sterile processing technicians are not subject to specific work laws in their home states. This general principal applies to processors who live and work in New Mexico. What does this mean in straightforward terms? In New Mexico, you can start your career without registering with the state or getting a state-issued license. You can also skip the process of getting certified as a sterile processor by any of the profession’s countrywide organizations.
Meeting the Standards of New Mexico Employers
All of this may make it seem like you can just walk in off the street and get a job as a sterile processing technician. However, by and large, that is a mistaken impression. Why? The fact that the state government sets no standards for sterile processors does not mean that New Mexico employers follow suit. In fact, you can expect every healthcare facility in your area to have a clear set of guidelines for potential employees.
What sorts of things are common elements in employer guidelines? The most likely points include:
- A minimum age requirement
- A minimum education requirement
- A minimum requirement for previous experience or some form of relevant training
The typical age standard is 18 or older. The typical education standard is a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate. Each facility sets its own training and work requirements. You may find local employers who expect you to hold national sterile processor certification in addition to experience or training.
Where Can You Get Trained?
New Mexico residents can seek sterile processor technician training from various in-state providers. That includes sources such as:
PMI offers sterile processor training in two separate Albuquerque locations. Program participants must complete an extensive, three-part sequence of classes and labs. They must also complete an externship at a local medical facility.
The curriculum includes a mix of foundational and professional courses, covering topics such as:
- Study Skills
- Anatomy, Physiology, and Terminology
- Computer Basics
- Math Fundamentals
- CPR & First Aid
- Surgical Instruments
- Microbiology and Infection Control
- Principles and Practices of Sterile Processing
- Sterilization Procedures and Practice
- Storage and Distribution
- Decontamination Procedures and Practice
- Medical Equipment
- Surgical Terminology
- Externship and Certification Review
This is another Albuquerque-based institution. It offers a relatively brief course of training in sterile processing.
- Upon completion, graduates may be eligible to apply to take the National Institute for Certification of Healthcare Sterile Processing and Distribution Personnel Examination (CBSPD).
- Graduates can find employment opportunities in surgery centers, dialysis facilities, and central processing units in hospitals.
- The program requires completion of the following courses:
- SPT 1010 – Basics of Sterile Processing: 2 credit hours
- SPT 1092 – Sterile Processing Lab: 2 credit hours
- Total Credit Hours Required: 4
This Farmington-based institution offers a sterile processing course as part of its Surgical Technology program. Program participants work toward an associate’s degree in applied sciences.
Why Study Surgical Technology at San Juan College?
- Hands-On Training: Students gain valuable experience through clinical settings in local hospitals and medical facilities, performing tasks under close supervision to become competent surgical technologists.
- State-of-the-Art Facilities: The college provides a modern operating room lab equipped with two operating tables, simulation mannequins, laparoscopic trainers, and a wide variety of instrumentation for students to practice and learn.
- Quality Program: Accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, the program ensures high-quality education and clinical rotations. Graduates have a high pass rate on the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA) certification exam.
- Affordable Option: The program offers an accessible cost for earning an associate degree in surgical technology, with potential eligibility for tuition-free education through the NM Opportunity and Lottery Scholarships.
Program Curriculum and Learning Outcomes
Students in the Surgical Technology AAS program will learn about:
- Aseptic techniques
- Patient positioning for surgery
- Preparation of instrumentation
- Operating room setup
- Equipment and instruments for various types of surgery
- Assisting surgeons with instrumentation and medical procedures
Additional studies include cellular and molecular biology, medical terminology, human anatomy and physiology, and microbiology.
Job Growth Outlook and Salary Expectations
In New Mexico, the average annual salary for medical equipment preparers, including sterile processors, is $40,440 as of 2022. This figure is closer to the national average than previously reported. The salary range in New Mexico shows that the lower 10% of workers earn about $29,580, while the top 10% earn around $48,730.
Comparatively, the national average annual salary for this occupation is $41,480. At the national level, the lowest 10% earn approximately $31,570, while the highest 10% can earn up to $62,960.
These figures indicate that the average salary for sterile processing technicians in New Mexico is now more aligned with the national average, with a significant portion of technicians earning close to or above the national average.
National vs. New Mexico Salaries for Medical Equipment Preparers:
|Annual Low (10%)
|Annual High (90%)
Salaries and Percentiles by Region in New Mexico:
|Annual Low (10%)
|Annual High (90%)
Medical Equipment Preparers Employment Trends in New Mexico
The employment trends for medical equipment preparers in New Mexico, as of the data updated on November 14, 2023, demonstrate a positive growth outlook for this occupation. In 2020, there were 260 employees working in this field in New Mexico. This number is projected to rise to 300 employees by 2030, marking a significant growth rate of 15%. This growth rate is notably higher than the national average. Annually, New Mexico is expected to have around 40 job openings in this occupation, which includes both new positions and replacements.
For comparison, at the national level, the employment for medical equipment preparers was 66,700 in 2022, with a projection to increase to 70,300 by 2032. This indicates a national growth rate of 5%, which is considered faster than average. The projected annual job openings nationwide are estimated to be around 9,500.
This data suggests a robust and growing demand for medical equipment preparers in New Mexico, significantly outpacing the national growth rate, indicating strong job prospects in this field within the state.
|New Mexico (2020-2030)
|United States (2022-2032)
|Current Employment (Start of Period)
|Projected Employment (End of Period)
|Projected Growth Rate
|Projected Annual Job Openings
Sources of Data:
- New Mexico Data: The employment figures and projections for New Mexico are obtained from Projections Central’s 2020-2030 long-term projections. Projections Central is a key resource for state-specific employment projections, widely used for workforce planning and analysis.
- United States Data: The national employment statistics and forecasts are sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022-2032 employment projections.
Working as a Sterile Processing Technician in New Mexico
In New Mexico, Sterile Processing Technicians play a vital role in healthcare, focusing on the sterilization and preparation of surgical instruments and medical equipment. With a projected 15% job growth from 2020 to 2030 and an average annual salary of around $40,440 as of 2022, this career offers a stable and promising future in the state’s healthcare sector. The role, typically requiring a high school diploma and possibly certification, involves working in hospitals and surgical centers, ensuring the safety and readiness of medical tools, with opportunities for advancement into supervisory or specialized roles.