Sterile Processing Technician Schools In Alabama
A sterile processing technician, or medical equipment preparer, doesn’t need extensive medical school training. Despite this, the position still performs a vital role in the healthcare industry.
If you’re interested in a career in healthcare that includes laboratory testing work and operating medical equipment, becoming a sterile processing technician may appeal to you. A central processing technician or central service technician also performs other essential tasks.
They prepare surgical instruments, perform sterilization procedures, and sanitize medical and surgical supplies. If you’re interested in pursuing such a position as a career in Alabama, reading the following guide may assist you.
What is Needed in Alabama to Qualify As a Sterile Processing Technician?
Alabama has no licensure or educational requirements for positions in the sterile processing technician field. The prerequisites for these roles are often set by employers, with applicants likely needing GED or high school diplomas.
Many employers still prefer candidates with a degree or may require some experience within the industry. There are certain institutions and organizations that do hire inexperienced applicants to undergo training while working.
A technical or associate degree in the health industry strengthens an employment application. Related job experience also helps.
Sterile Processing Technicians: National Certification Examination
Although not mandatory in Alabama, obtaining certification as a sterile processing technician gives you some advantages. A higher monthly salary and increased opportunities for employment are two examples.
The Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA), formerly known as the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management (IAHCSMM), is the industry’s established accrediting body.
Beyond entry-level training, five certification levels are available. These are:
- Central Service Management
- Secondary Instrumentation Certification
- Secondary Certification
- Central Service Vendor Certification
- Endoscope Reprocessing Certification
To acquire certification, you must submit an application with the requested fee. Once deemed eligible, you sit the national certification exam online through a Prometric testing facility.
After this, the facility will inform you whether you have passed the exam, with a passing score resulting in certification. This will be presented within a two-week period with an annual renewal required.
Work Environments for Sterile Processing Technicians in Alabama
A sterile processing technician can find employment in several healthcare environments across various healthcare settings. Typically, the major centers of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile offer better opportunities in the field.
Organizations, including Lexington Medical Center, Infirmary Health, and St. Vincent’s Health System, use sterile processing technicians, as do other healthcare facilities. These include physician and surgical centers, hospitals, and dental centers. Outpatient and other patient care centers also make use of qualified and accredited technicians.
Employment and Earning Potential in Alabama
2021 figures released by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for occupational employment and wages in this field state that the medical equipment preparers’ mean annual salary in Alabama is $42,420, or an hourly wage of $20.40.
Newly appointed sterile processing technicians (the same profession) could be earning a little less. In 2021, professionals in this field in Alabama were paid up to $60,300 per year.
The annual employment statistics for a sterile processing technician predicted a 1.1% nationwide growth through 2022. The anticipated growth in Alabama was much higher, at around 3%.
Sterile Processing Technician Training Courses in Alabama
If you are considering sitting the Sterile Processing Technician National Certification Examination, sign up for a Sterile Processing Program to hone your skills. There are several good options in Alabama. Here is a short guide to two of the centers providing a sterile processing technician program in the state.
Southern Union State Community College – Central Services and Sterile Processing Program
The Southern Union State Community College instructional program is an introductory course for the central sterile processing profession. It targets the responsibilities of a technician in the sterile processing field, emphasizing the following areas:
- Maintenance of surgical instruments
- Implementing sterilization protocols
- Application of the aseptic technique and principles
- Safety standard adherence and inventory management
- Microbiology overview
At the conclusion of the program, enrolled students can showcase their knowledge of the practice of asepsis and several sterilization procedures in a professional sterile processing department setting.
Course duration: 10-15 weeks, including some designated hours of practical experience.
Credentials you receive: After you successfully complete the Central Service Technician Program and the national certification exam, you will receive credentials as a Certified Registered Central Services Technician (CRCST).
Price: Enrolment costs are available by contacting SUSCC.
Jefferson State Community College – Sterile Processing Technician Program
The sterile processing technician program through Jefferson State Community College offers an introduction to the sterile processing profession. It provides students with entry-level expertise in the sterile processing or distribution division of a patient care facility, hospital, or outpatient establishment.
The course emphasizes the following capabilities for working in a sterile processing department:
- The fundamental science of sterile processing
- Infection control
- Inventory management and distribution
- Instrumentation identification and safety
- Sterilization and the sterilization process
- Aseptic technique and the implementation of its principles
- Quality assurance and controls
- The contemporary healthcare trends influencing sterile processing.
Upon completion, the student can apply for the examination for national certification.
Course duration: 3-hour sessions twice weekly for approximately 20 weeks, and 103 clinical hours.
Credentials you receive: If you complete the program successfully, you are awarded a Certificate of Completion from Jefferson State Community College. This qualifies you to take the exam for national certification in accordance with the certifying body’s guidelines.
Price: $1,795, excluding any health and vaccination requirements.
Does a sterile processing technician fall under the health sciences division of professionals?
Yes, this type of technician, also known as a central service technician, falls under the health sciences umbrella. Health sciences is a broad field including professionals involved in diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases and disorders.
Do I need a high school diploma to do a sterile processing program?
Yes, most sterile processing courses require a diploma or an equivalent qualification, like a GED. Employment as a central service technician demands certain levels of education in math and science. Professionals must also understand medical terminology and have knowledge of surgical technology.
Do I need a clinical externship if I’m going to do a processing technician program?
After passing the exam for national certification, you must complete 400 hours of practical experience. Only then will you become officially certified. You don’t need a clinical externship to qualify for a training program, though. Most programs incorporate some clinical experience into their courses, with these counting toward the required 400 hours.
Once you’ve passed the certification exam, you must complete the outstanding practical hours within six months. It is advisable to line up an externship as soon as you can. Some programs will even provide potential outlets where you can secure these externships.