How to Become a Sterile Processing Technician in Washington State

Sterile processing technicians work in the background, but they are on the front lines of any hospital’s infection control plan. The essential work they do involves receiving the soiled equipment used in medical procedures to decontaminate and sterilize it before re-use. If you have been considering this vital career, you may want to know a little bit more about what these techs do and how to become one.

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Working as a sterile processing technician means having a sharp eye for detail, a meticulous nature and good physical stamina. In fact, technicians spend a great deal of time standing, walking and lifting equipment. Clerical work and inventory control are other important aspects of the day-to-day work in this career.

Sterile Processing Technicians and Licensing in Washington

The state of Washington does not require sterile processing technicians to be licensed to work, nor is there a statewide oversight committee for the profession. However, those entering the career should know that a central processing department faces nearly constant scrutiny through both internal and external reviews. This supervision is necessary because of the essential nature of ensuring the equipment they work with is properly cleaned and sterilized.

Washington Training Programs for Sterile Processing Technicians

Sterile processing technicians generally train in one of two ways: on-the-job or through a reputable training program. With either choice, a high school diploma or equivalent will be necessary prior to beginning training. In Washington, there are several programs through which you can acquire training. These include:

  • Columbia Basin College in Pasco offers a Healthcare Central Service Technology program. Students will be trained to decontaminate and sterilize surgical instruments and medical equipment.
  • Bellingham Technical College in Bellingham, WA, offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Surgery Technology. Surgical technologists learn to provide assistance in the operating room as well as how to properly clean and sterilize equipment. See also
  • Clover Park Technical College, with campuses in Lakewood and Puyallup, WA, offers a Central Service/Sterile Processing program. Students will be prepared to provide the sterile equipment and supplies needed for surgery.
  • Renton Technical College in Renton offers a Surgical Technologist program. Students will learn the basics of endoscopy, labor and delivery and sterile processing.
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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.

Credentialing for Sterile Processing Technicians

Although there is no universal certification requirement for sterile processing technicians, attaining credentialing is highly recommended for those wishing to expand their career prospects. In addition, many organizations will require accreditation for potential and current employees, so acquiring a certification can increase your employability.

As there are many organizations through which you can seek accreditation, you may wish to research the preferences of the organizations where you hope to become employed.

Job Growth Outlook and Salary Expectations

Sterile processing technicians in Washington now earn an average annual salary of $44,730, surpassing the national average. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022), the average annual salary for these technicians across the United States is $41,480. In Washington, the lower 10% of earners in this field make around $33,860, while the top 10% earn as much as $61,580. Nationally, the salary range is slightly broader, with the lowest 10% earning $31,570 and the highest 10% making up to $62,960.

National vs. Washington Salaries:

United States Washington
Average Salary $41,480 $44,730
Lowest 10% (Annual) $31,570 $33,860
Highest 10% (Annual) $62,960 $61,580

Salaries and Percentiles by Region in Washington:

Region Lowest 10% Median Highest 10%
Eastern Washington nonmetropolitan area $32,490 $42,750 $79,850
Kennewick-Richland, WA $30,140 $35,330 $49,360
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA $35,250 $50,360 $64,180
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA $33,870 $48,200 $63,270
Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA $35,980 $41,040 $51,910
Wenatchee, WA $33,990 $43,500 $63,080
Western Washington nonmetropolitan area $34,650 $40,400 $57,580
Yakima, WA $32,570 $39,990 $50,080

Medical Equipment Preparers Employment Trends in Washington

The ONET Online data provides insightful employment trends for Sterile Processing Technicians (Medical Equipment Preparers) in Washington. As of 2020, the state employed 1,840 individuals in this occupation. Looking forward, a significant growth is anticipated, with projected employment reaching 2,210 by 2030, marking a 20% increase. This growth rate is notably robust compared to the national average, which is projected at 5% from 2022 to 2032. The United States overall expects to see an increase from 66,700 employees in 2022 to 70,300 in 2032. Additionally, Washington is projected to have 320 annual job openings in this field from 2020 to 2030, compared to 9,500 annual openings nationwide from 2022 to 2032.

Employment Trends for Medical Equipment Preparers

Category Washington (2020-2030) United States (2022-2032)
Employment (Start of Period) 1,840 employees (2020) 66,700 employees (2022)
Projected Employment (End of Period) 2,210 employees (2030) 70,300 employees (2032)
Projected Growth 20% 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings 320 9,500

Sources of Data:

  • For Washington-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 Washington

Working as a Sterile Processing Technician in Washington offers a promising career path with competitive wages and a growing job market. In this role, technicians are responsible for the sterilization and preparation of medical equipment, a critical function in healthcare settings. With an average annual salary of $44,730, which is higher than the national average, technicians in Washington benefit from a robust job market. The state’s projected employment growth of 20% from 2020 to 2030 for this occupation reflects a strong demand for these essential healthcare workers. Additionally, the diverse range of employment settings, from hospitals to technical consulting firms, provides ample opportunities for career advancement and specialization.

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