Becoming A Sterile Processing Technician in Puerto Rico

Diagnostics and surgery require an entire team of specialists, from surgeons to nurses to cleaners. One little-known but highly specialized expert in the field is the sterile processing technician. These highly trained and skilled professionals make sure surgical and diagnostic equipment is scrupulously cleaned and sterilized, so it can’t transfer disease between individuals.

Requirements for Becoming a Sterile Processing Technician in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s department of health does not directly register or regulate the training and qualification of sterile processing technicians, but employers almost universally call for applicants to hold certifications from one of the major international professional organizations. By far, the most well-known is the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management, which issues the Certified Registered Central Service Technician (CRCST) certification.

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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.

To get certified you’ll need to pass a proctored, in-person exam costing $125 and to demonstrate your completion of 400 hours of work experience in the field. You can get your work experience on the job or at a training course, externship or apprenticeship. You’ll need to show that you’ve completed a certain number of hours in specific job tasks, as follows:

  • 16 hours in maintenance of equipment
  • 24 hours in processing and quality assurance
  • 24 hours in distribution and storage
  • 96 hours in sterilizing and disinfecting
  • 120 hours in decontamination
  • 120 hours in preparation and packaging of equipment

Once you’re certified, you need to renew your certification on an annual basis by taking a continuing professional education course to keep up with the latest developments in the field. Advanced certifications in topics like endoscope preparation and the running of a sterile processing department are also available and can boost your hireability and pay.

Although you’re unlikely to have much direct patient contact, sterile processing techs work with precision equipment in a healthcare setting, so you’ll 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 Puerto Rico

Unfortunately, there are not any fully dedicated training courses for sterile processing techs in Puerto Rico and only one partially dedicated course, which is listed below alongside online options.

  • Based in San Juan, Antilles College of Health offers a surgical technician program that includes sterile processing training. Financial aid is available and the program offers clinical work experience. Antilles College of Health is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools and authorized by the Council of Education of Puerto Rico, ensuring the program meets high educational standards.
  • MedCerts offers a 13-week course that prepares you for the CRCST exam. Financial aid is available, and the program can help place you with a local site for clinical experience.
  • Ashworth College also offers a fully online program that prepares you for the CRCST exam and can help you find a clinical site for work experience.

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations

Puerto Rico’s economy has suffered due to a longstanding austerity policy, which affects compensation and job market growth. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a sterile processing technician in Puerto Rico can expect to earn an average annual salary of about $23,000, with high earners in the field averaging about $35,000 per year.

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022), Sterile Processing Technicians in Puerto Rico, also known as Medical Equipment Preparers, have an average annual wage of $23,280. This figure is significantly lower than the national average for this occupation, which stands at $41,480. In Puerto Rico, the wages for these technicians range from $18,600 at the lower end (10th percentile) to $29,370 at the higher end (90th percentile).

National vs. Puerto Rico Salaries for Sterile Processing Technicians

Percentile United States Puerto Rico
10% $31,570 $18,600
25% $36,240 $19,560
50% (Median) $41,480 $23,280
75% $50,300 $27,420
90% $62,960 $29,370

Salaries in San Juan-Carolina-Caguas, Puerto Rico

Percentile San Juan-Carolina-Caguas, PR
10% $18,900
25% $21,150
50% (Median) $24,170
75% $28,390
90% $32,810

Medical Equipment Preparers Employment Trends in Puerto Rico

The employment trends for Medical Equipment Preparers in Puerto Rico indicate a modest but positive growth. According to the data from Projections Central (2020-2030), the field is set to experience an 8% growth over the decade.

In 2020, there were 240 employees working as Medical Equipment Preparers in Puerto Rico. This number is projected to increase to 260 by 2030. While this represents a smaller workforce compared to larger states, the growth rate is encouraging and suggests a steady demand for these professionals in the healthcare sector of Puerto Rico.

Additionally, there are projected to be 30 annual job openings in Puerto Rico from 2020 to 2030. These openings are expected to arise due to both new job growth and the need to replace workers who leave the field.

For comparison, nationally in the United States, the employment for Medical Equipment Preparers is projected to grow by 5% from 2022 to 2032, with 9,500 projected annual job openings.

Category Puerto Rico (2020-2030) United States (2022-2032)
Employment (Start of Period) 240 employees 66,700 employees
Projected Employment (End of Period) 260 employees 70,300 employees
Projected Growth 8% 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings 30 9,500

Sources of Data:

  • For Puerto Rico-specific data, the source is Projections Central, which offers state-level long-term projections for the period from 2020 to 2030.
  • For the national data, the source is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides federal-level employment projections for the period from 2022 to 2032.

Working as a Sterile Processing Technician in Puerto Rico

Sterile processing technicians make an important contribution to safe and effective healthcare, but unlike many other workers in the field, they tend to enjoy regular, daytime working hours. The work is rigorous and challenging, physically and mentally – workers handle heavy equipment and do painstaking tasks with tiny components and tools, while satisfying meticulous safety and paperwork requirements.

To find work as a sterile processing technician, check hospitals, testing centers and diagnostic laboratories. Major job websites like ZipRecruiter, Monster and Indeed are good places to start your job search.

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