How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician in Virginia
Working as a sterile processing technician means being an integral part of the healthcare system. Without sterile processing technicians to clean, sterilize and decontaminate medical equipment and supplies, medical and surgical procedures would not be possible. In fact, sterile processing technicians are significant players in preventing the spread of infectious diseases within medical facilities.
Working as a sterile processing technician requires a great deal of knowledge about the equipment used in various procedures and the techniques needed for cleaning. Technicians will need to have an eye for detail, as they will often be involved in inspecting equipment and packaging for cleanliness and defects. Additionally, the sterile processing department is usually responsible for tracking and distributing the equipment they manage. As such, clerical skills are helpful to anyone entering the field.
Most sterile processing technicians work in hospitals, with equipment that is vital to life-saving and urgent procedures. Those in the field should expect to work off-hours, weekends and holidays, either as actual paid shifts or on-call. Although the work is rewarding, the hours can be long, with a strong potential for mandatory overtime.
Statewide Licensing for Sterile Processing Technicians in Virginia
There is no statewide oversight for sterile processing technicians in Virginia, nor are technicians required to obtain a license to practice. However, the work itself is highly regulated by nature, as specific procedures must be followed at all times. In addition, healthcare organizations need to seek accreditation and, as such, are frequently monitored.
Finding Sterile Processing Technician Training in Virginia
The only prerequisite for training as a sterile processing technician is a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Training is often performed on the job, especially for those already employed in a hospital or sterile processing contracting organization. However, for those looking to move directly into the career, some training programs are available in Virginia. These include:
- Reynolds Community College in Richmond, VA, offers Central Sterile Processing courses. Students can enroll in four different classes, which may include hands-on training in a clinical setting or classroom instruction on sterilization methods. Upon completion, students will be eligible to test for credentialing.
- Fortis in Richmond, VA, offers Sterile Processing Technician training. Students in the program will train for entry-level positions in surgery centers, dentists’ offices, hospitals and diagnostic centers.
Sterile Processing Technician Credentialing
Numerous organizations offer certifications for sterile processing technicians, both in core duties and specialty processes. While there is no blanket requirement for specific accreditations, some organizations may require technicians to achieve them. Therefore it is essential to research the need for credentialing where you wish to find employment. Regardless of requirements, credentialing is a great way to increase your employability, gain promotions and increase your earnings.
Projected Wages for Sterile Processing Technicians in Virginia
According to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), sterile processing technicians in Virginia earned an average of $38,590 in 2019, slightly below the national average of $39,530 for this field. In the same year, salaries in the state ranged from $27,150 to $53,430. Entry-level technicians should expect wages toward the lower end of the scale, with plenty of opportunities to increase with experience.
Opportunities in Virginia for Sterile Processing Technicians
The good news for sterile processing technicians in Virginia is that it’s a growing field. According to Projections Central, the career is expected to experience an 11 percent growth between 2018 and 2028, creating an additional 150 jobs over the 10-year period. Currently, there are an estimated 1,360 sterile processing technicians employed in the state.
A few of the potential employers in Virginia include VCU Health, Aerotek, Valley Health, University of Virginia, Bon Secours and Inova Health System.