Sterile Technician: A career guide on how to become one

Most often, we think that doctors and nurses are the only ones holding together the entire healthcare system. But a sterile technician also plays a significant role in saving lives. And their contributions are as noteworthy as doctors’ and nurses’. 

This article will give you a rundown of the perks and benefits of becoming a sterile services technician. And we will also provide thorough instructions on how you can become a part of this vital workforce.

Table of Contents

Who is a Sterile Processing Technician?

So, who is a sterile service technician, and what is their ballgame? A sterile services technician is a highly trained professional. They work hard to achieve the highest level of patient safety. Consequently, a sterile technician carries out the disinfection and purification process. And they do it for all medical appliances and laboratory tools.

Who is a Sterile Processing Technician

Moreover, a sterile technician has responsibility in the emergency department of a hospital. And they are the first line of defence against surgical site infections.

Sterile technicians usually work in the sterile processing department.  It is also known as the Sterile Services Department or Central Supply Department in a hospital. Surgical instruments and medical equipment get sterilised and inspected. Next, the technicians reassemble and package the equipment in the Central Processing department. And sterile processing technicians distribute the equipment throughout the hospital.

What does a Sterile Technician do?

In each hospital or clinical setting, sterile processing technologists are an essential aspect of infection control. They make certain that surgical instruments and other medical equipment are cleansed. In addition, they sterilise and maintain the equipments properly. 

Surgical technologists, on the other hand, work in equipment processing. They could also work with central supply departments. Therefore, sterile processing techs are rarely present during an actual operation.

Duties of a Sterile Technician

A sterile services technician works in the central sterile processing department. And it is present in every healthcare facility. Also, you might have to handle the planning process for the whole unit. Additionally, a senior sterile technician is responsible for selecting material and human resources. 

A detailed list of what your tasks would be as a sterile services technician is given below. 

  • Daily preparation of required surgical equipments for the procedures
  • Check equipments for functionality and damage using a count sheet
  • Oversee all the product reprocessing at the establishment stage
  • Having excellent upper body strength is a plus. Because, the job requires extensive physical exertion. For instance, you might have to handle autoclaves or carry large surgical boxes. 
  • You should have the appropriate knowledge of which decontamination method to follow. It is because different surgical equipment has different cleaning methods. 
  • You must know the techniques of steam sterilisation. Because it is the most used method for decontamination.
  • Wear protective equipment all the time. Keep it on during scrubbing away bioburden or biohazard substances from the equipment.
  • To make sure of patient safety, abide by the guidelines and practices of your workplace.

8 Reasons to Become a Sterile Processing Technician

You will be working behind the scenes in the medical community as a sterile technician. SPD techs are responsible for eliminating infections, maintaining supplies. And they manually clean tools required in a surgical operation. Sterile processing technicians are some of the most important members of a hospital’s arsenal.

Become a Sterile Processing Technician

We are here to give you eight reasons, so you might want to contemplate a career as a sterile technician. Let’s get started!

1. You Get Your Foot in the Door

Want to get your career started as a sterile processing technician? You don’t need to have years of experience in medical school for that.  However, completing GCSE is a requirement for most sterile processing technicians. Also, you might need other certification programs to advance your career. All in all, the career path gives you a much simpler entrance into the healthcare industry.

2. Flexible Team Structure

You may have the opportunity to work on a team or by yourself, depending on the hospital or medical centre. You will also have to work in collaboration with other departments. And it will be one of the most important central roles in the healthcare system.

3. Endless Opportunities as an SPD Technician

Your opportunities span as far as your ambition goes as a sterile technician. You can move up the ladder to the position of sterile processing manager. You can even become a supervisor with career aspiration and hard work. 

Consequently, advancement from the sterile technician position gives you a vantage point. You can look deeper into other opportunities in the medical community. And you might want to explore opportunities such as endoscope technician or surgical technician.

Similarly, windows of opportunities will be open for you in foreign lands. It is because a sterile service technician is in high demand. Subsequently, you can become a certified trainer. And you can open up your own training centre for sterile processing technicians. 

4. You Play a Critical Role in Keeping Patient Healthy

A sterile technician is a crucial part of the healthcare community. While you won’t have direct interaction with patients, you will be doing more to save their lives. Also, you will be responsible for making sure that infectious diseases can’t spread. And you have to keep the surgical tools in working order. In addition, you have to make sure that each patient has a successful surgery. 

5. Steady Work

One of the fastest-growing sectors in the UK is health and medical care. The spike in the ageing baby boomer population and patients with chronic conditions have contributed to this growth. So, as a sterile technician, you will find continuous and steady work in the healthcare field. Moreover, the central sterile processing department of many hospitals report high vacancy rates.

Steady Work

Consequently, there is a lack of workforce skilled in managing and processing medical equipment. In the UK, we will need an additional 350,000 healthcare workers by 2030. So, you can join a sizable work-based community and secure your employment right away!

6. Good Salary & Job Flexibility

In the UK, healthcare facilities are stretched throughout the country. So, you can easily get a job in your chosen location. Consequently, some facilities give you the privilege to decide your own working hours. However, every hospital and institution has the policy of working 40 hours per week. If you’re just starting out in the healthcare field, it is doable.

Furthermore, you have the option of working varied shifts to suit your needs. You can also work extra shifts to increase your overtime pay. A sterile technician‘s average annual pay is £21,000 in the UK.

7. Time Efficient & Financial Flexibility

For a degree in medicine, you need to go to medical school for five years. On top of that, UK students spend around £12,000 on average every year to go to medical school. However, you can skip all that and still be part of your dream medical team. On-the-job training is available in the field of sterile processing department. 

Usually, your employer will always encourage and endorse you to take more training. And one such extensive training is the Institute of Decontamination Sciences Technical Certificate. Additionally, you can take online courses to get certified and add that “x” factor to your resume. 

8. Do Your Part for The Society

Being a healthcare worker is something you should opt for if helping others gives you the thrill.  Many say that sterile technicians are the “heart of the hospitals”. For effective operation of hospitals and clinics, the central sterile processing department plays a crucial role.  So, you can say sterile technicians are the lynchpin that holds it all together. 

How to Become a Sterile Technician?

To become a sterile technician, you do not need to go to medical school or get a university degree. However, the job does require you to have particular skills and knowledge. And these need to pertain to your duties.

Educational Qualifications

A high school degree is a primary prerequisite to become a sterile service technician. However, you can get into a vocational or skill-based training course after completion of your degree. Moreover, students from the UK can sit for A levels. You can even take the “national vocational qualification” tests. And it helps in taking the next step forward in becoming a sterile technician. 

Consequently, you can go to college or take online courses to build up prior knowledge. Moreover, taking courses such as level 3 diploma or A- level Biology will earn you extra points.

Apprenticeship

In the healthcare industry, tons of apprenticeship and internship programs are available. You will receive a blended on-the-job training and theoretical learning on apprenticeship. Moreover, you might have the best start of your career working with professionals. However, you need a level 2 vocational qualification to work as an apprentice. And with level 2 vocational training and experience, you can land a job.

Apprenticeship

Consequently, you must have grade C or higher grades in all your GCSE subjects. And as an apprentice sterile technician, you will have to complete an in-house induction training programme. The program is certified by the Institute of Decontamination Sciences.

Volunteering 

You can find lots of volunteering opportunities as a sterile technician. First, look into healthcare facilities near your location. Moreover, you can work at the NHS to gain valuable experience. And your future employer will value your NHS work experience. Also, you can gain volunteering experience in a dental clinic. Private hospitals and some pharmaceutical companies also provide volunteering opportunities.

Direct Application to Jobs

You can apply for the job of a sterile technician right after completing your high school degree. However, the chances of getting selected in the direct application are steep. You definitely need some experience and a high school degree to show for. Your best option is to highlight your career points and skills in your resume. And the employer might arrange for necessary training when they hire you.

Consequently, having certified credentials will give you a vantage point. Because you need working knowledge of medical terminology to work as a sterile services technician. You have to be wary of the sterilisation process and keep yourself updated on various aspects of the industry.  

So, enrol in our Sterile Technician Certification course today. And you can gain transferable skills to show in your resume. This online course is CPD accredited and designed by industry experts. Consequently, the course contains details on the process of quality management. The details are in terms of sterilising service and many more.

Certificate In Sterile Services Technician
This course explains the process of cleaning and packaging, sterilizing, and quality management in sterilizing service.
Certificate In Sterile Services Technician
This course explains the process of cleaning and packaging, sterilizing, and quality management in sterilizing service.

Different Types of Sterile Services Technician in the Healthcare Field

There are many other types of technicians. These professions are available in medicine and dentistry care. For example, we have x-ray technicians, dental hygienists and laboratory technicians. And then there are opticians as well. Regardless, most of them differ from traditional surgical sterile services technicians.

Sterile Services Technician

  • X-ray technicians conduct procedures such as femoral arteriogram or carotid arteriogram. Similarly, they assist radiologists in other procedures. Moreover, tackling emergencies involving patients is another speciality of an x-ray technician.
  • Assisting patients in learning self treatment procedures is the primary responsibility of inhalation therapy technicians. The self-treatment procedures help with breathing.
  • Typical job duties of a dental hygienist include sterilising dental equipment and preparing dental materials. 

Conclusion

A sterile technician is, in essence, a crucial aspect of patient care. A profession as a sterile services technician is one that offers opportunities for advancement. In this field, you will have plenty of opportunities and promotions. And you will not have to endure the financial and mental strain of obtaining a university diploma. 

The demand for sterile services professionals is growing constantly. So now is the time for you to make a choice and follow through! 

If you despise the idea of sitting at a desk in a cubicle for 8 hours, this job will be a welcome change! You’ll be on the edge of your seat the entire time you’re at work. You will love the adrenaline rush, and static will be foreign to you!

January 7, 2022

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