How to Become an EEG Technician in 5 Steps
Explore the career requirements for EEG technicians. Get the facts about education and certification requirements, salary and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you.
What Does a EEG Technician Do?
Electroencephalography (EEG) technicians use specialized equipment to record and study patients' brain waves and electrical impulses of the nervous system. This process involves applying electrodes to a patient's scalp, and insuring that the connection between the electrodes and scalp is good enough to pick up surface neuro-electric activity from the brain. Often patients will not have a full range of mobility and EEG technicians may have to work with other medical staff to apply electrodes. When applying electrodes there is a need for clear communications between patients and/or other medical assistants. After applying electrodes EEG technicians monitor EEG data as it is recorded and then prepare reports for physicians to analyze. The following chart gives you an overview about becoming an EEG technician.
|Degree Required||Not always required; Associate degree programs available|
|Education Field of Study||Electroneurodiagnostic Technology|
|Key Responsibilities||Operate, calibrate and maintain EEG equipment; place electrodes on patient properly; measure and record patient response to stimuli; analyze data and prepare written summary for physician|
|Certification||Certification offered by the American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic Technologies; CPR certification often needed|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||11% (for health technologists and technicians, all other)*|
|Median Salary (2019)||$44,365**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
What Is EEG Technology?
An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that is used in electroneurodiagnostic (END) testing. END tests are used to study the brainwaves and electrical impulses of the nervous system. EEG technology, in particular, is used to test the activity in your brain and can diagnose sleep disorders, seizures, dementia and other problems with brain activity. Also, patients don't need to be conscious for the test. Doctors use EEG technology to watch brain activity of a patient during surgery and to monitor the brain activity of a coma patient.
Step 1: Research EEG Technician Career Information
As an EEG technician, or technologist, you'll work with doctors to diagnose neurological and sleep disorders like insomnia, epilepsy, brain tumors and narcolepsy. You'll be responsible for placing electrodes on the patient's body prior to the EEG. Other responsibilities include taking down medical history, explaining the test to patients and troubleshooting any testing interference or malfunctions. According to PayScale.com, EEG technicians earned a median annual salary of $44,365 in November 2019.
Step 2: Finish High School
A high school diploma or the equivalent is the lowest level of education you'll need to find work as an EEG technician. You'll also need a high school diploma to pursue a degree in electroneurodiagnostic technology. You should consider choosing classes in biology, health and mathematics while in high school.
Step 3: Go to College
Many colleges offer associate degree programs in electroneurodiagnostic technology. This is the primary program that prepares you to become a registered EEG technologist. Courses should teach you medical terminology, pharmacology, anatomy and physiology. Advanced courses in electricity, laboratory practices, neuroscience and polysomnography prepare you for working as an EEG technologist or END technologist. You'll also acquire essential clinical experience during your matriculation.
Step 4: Take a CPR Class
To sit for the EEG technologist registration exam you must have a valid CPR card. To become certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) you may take a class with either the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. You must maintain this certification throughout your career.
Step 5: Earn Your National Certification
You may seek certification as a Registered Electroencephalographic (EEG) Technologist through the American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technicians (ABRET). To sit for the exam, you must have a CPR card and have the appropriate training (www.abret.org). Appropriate training consists of three years experience in a clinical setting or having an associate degree and one year of training.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
A few careers related to that of an EEG technician include cardiovascular technologists, diagnostic medical sonographers and respiratory therapy technicians. Cardiovascular technologists use electrocardiogram (EKG) among other medical tests to monitor a patient's cardiovascular system. Diagnostic medical sonographers operate ultrasound equipment to create diagnostic images for physicians. Respiratory therapy technicians operate various assisted breathing devices, monitor patients' breathing and keep logs of patients' progress.