Medical Equipment Preparer Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Learn about a medical equipment preparer's job description, salary and education requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a medical equipment preparer career.
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Pros and Cons of a Medical Equipment Preparer Career

Because they are in-demand anywhere there are medical facilities, medical equipment preparers can work in many geographical locations. Check out the pros and cons of a medical equipment preparer career to decide if it's the right choice for you.

Pros of Being a Medical Equipment Preparer
Jobs may only require a high school diploma*
Variety of work settings available, including dentist offices, hospitals and colleges**
On-the-job training typically available*
Work includes improving patient care*

Cons of Being a Medical Equipment Preparer
Low Pay ($32,260 median salary in 2014)**
Work can be physically demanding and usually requires standing for long periods of time
Some physical risk when exposed to toxic cleaning agents and contaminated instruments*
Requires daily performance of the same physical tasks*

Sources: *ISEEK.org, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Essential Career Info

Job Description and Duties

Medical equipment preparers, also called 'central processing technicians' or 'sterile processing technicians', prevent the spread of germs and bacteria in operating and exam rooms by using various sterilization methods on medical instruments and equipment. This can include using potentially dangerous gas and chemical sterilizers. As a medical equipment preparer, you may also be responsible for delivering and installing medical equipment, such as hospital beds and respirators, maintaining supply inventories and keeping records of sterilizer test results. Preparers work in various healthcare facilities, including hospitals, colleges, dentist offices and outpatient care centers.

Salary Info

Because there are little education requirements for medical equipment preparers, these individuals don't tend to earn very high salaries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the 2014 median annual salary for medical equipment preparers was around $32,260, with the highest-paid preparers earning about $47,000 (www.bls.gov).

What Are the Requirements?

A high school diploma or GED is the standard education requirement for medical equipment preparers. Most positions are entry-level jobs with on-the-job training offered by employers. To perform their job duties, preparers must also have:

  • Manual dexterity
  • An attention to detail
  • Knowledge of the mechanics of specific equipment
  • An awareness of the uses and interactions of chemicals
  • Knowledge of public safety procedures
  • Steadiness in their arms and hands

Job Postings from Real Employers

The majority of job listings for medical equipment preparers are posted by hospitals. This is because, as of 2011, hospitals employed over half of all medical equipment preparers. Many job postings tend to list the skills, experience, certification and education that ideal candidates should possess. Here are a few examples of jobs postings found in May 2012:

  • A Wisconsin hospital advertised for a part-time central processing technician with strong knowledge of the uses of surgical instruments and sterilizing equipment, including ethylene oxide steam autoclaves. Medical work experience and the completion of a central service technician course were preferred.
  • A medical center in Texas sought a candidate with a high school diploma or GED and one year of related work experience. Job duties included cleaning, storing and assembling operating room instruments. The employer preferred candidates with professional certification.
  • A research hospital in Missouri looked for a sterile processing technician having basic computer skills, and who could communicate objectively and prioritize. The technician needed a high school diploma and 6-12 months of related work experience.
  • A Virginia hospital sought a candidate with two years of work experience and the ability to receive certification within one year of employment. The candidate needed to have a strong understanding of medical terminology and the specific needs of patients depending on their age. Other qualifications included the ability to work independently and efficiently in a fast-paced and high-stress environment.

How Can I Stand Out?

You can set yourself apart from other job applicants by becoming certified by the Certification Board of Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD) or the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materials Management (IAHCSMM). You must pass an exam to become certified by either organization. The CSPD allows medical equipment preparers with one year of related work experience to take its certification exam. Alternatively, you can become eligible for both the CBSPD and IAHCSM certification exams by completing a training program.

Universities, community colleges and technical schools offer central sterile processing certificate programs that can be completed in as little as one semester. These programs prepare aspiring medical equipment preparers to work in the field by teaching topics such as medical terminology, microbiology, human anatomy, sterilization procedures and infection control. Having completing a certificate program may make you more appealing to employers than an individual who only possesses a GED or high school diploma.

Other Careers to Consider

Surgical Technologists

If becoming a medical equipment preparer doesn't interest you, there are other careers that allow you to play a supporting role in the medical field, including surgical technology. As a surgical technologist, you gather equipment for surgery, prepare patients for surgery and hand surgeons instruments during operations. According to the BLS, in 2011 surgical technologists earned higher salaries than medical equipment preparers, about $41,000 per year. However, to work in the field you need an associate's degree or certificate from a vocational school or community college.

Medical Equipment Repairer

Alternatively, you could become a medical equipment repairer. In this position you test, repair and maintain medical equipment. Most repairer positions require at least an associate's degree, but those working with complicated machinery, such as medical imaging equipment, may need a bachelor's degree. The BLS reports the May 2011 median annual salary for medical equipment repairers at about $45,000.

Medical Device Sales Representative

As a medical device sales representative, you work for a manufacturing company selling medical instruments and equipment to hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Sales representatives often travel extensively and work irregular hours. You need a bachelor's degree in a technical or scientific field, such as engineering or biology, to work in this field. Although the education requirements are higher for sales representatives than for medical equipment preparers, according to the BLS, sales representatives in general, including in fields other than medical device sales, earned considerably higher salaries in May 2011, making around $75,000 per year.

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Featured Schools

Grand Canyon University

  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • MBA: Health Systems Management
  • BS in Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Ashford University

  • M.A. - Health Care Admin
  • BS/Health Information Management
  • BA/Health and Human Services - Health Care Informatics Systems

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • MBA: Health Care Management
  • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
  • Medical Office Administration

Which subject are you interested in?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Project Management
  • Bachelor: Health Information Management
  • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist
  • Diploma: Medical Office Admin

What is your highest level of education?

Utica College

  • MBA - Health Care Management
  • Masters in Health Care Administration
  • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Acute Care

What is your highest level of education completed?

University of the Southwest

  • MBA - Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Health Care Admin
  • PhD in Business Admin - Health Care Admin
  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • MBA - Health Care Admin

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
  • MS - Healthcare Management
  • B.S. - Health Care Management

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