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.
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.
- 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.
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.