How Can I Become a Sleep Technologist?

Research what it takes to become a sleep technologist. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Sleep Technologist?

A sleep technologist is also known as a polysomnography technologist. They perform tests on individuals suspected of having sleep disorders, and they collect data while patients sleep. This data is used to help determine what disorder is affecting the patient. Sleep technologists are also responsible for keeping the equipment in their lab clean and they must ensure all the equipment is working properly.

Degree Required Certificate or associate's degree
Education Field of Study Polysomnography technology
Certification Option Registered Polysomnographic Technologist (RPSGT) credential is optional
Job Growth (2018-2028) 11% (for all clinical laboratory technologists and technicians)*
Median Salary (2018) $52,330 (for all clinical laboratory technologists and technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a Sleep Technologist?

Sleep technologists are allied health specialists who study, diagnose and treat sleep disorders. As a sleep technologist, you would use sophisticated equipment to monitor patients' physical sleeping conditions. Common sleep disorders you would encounter include sleep apnea, insomnia and narcolepsy.

By analyzing a patient's oxygen, heart rate, brain waves, muscle activity and other bodily processes during sleep, you can determine a patient's medical needs and organize a treatment plan. Patients often stay overnight while you monitor their various bodily functions. You could work in a sleep study center or the neurology department at a hospital.

What Education Do I Need?

You will need some formal training to become a sleep technologist, either from polysomnography technology programs at the certificate or associate's degree level. The Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs accredits sleep tech programs, and the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care accredits programs for registered and certified respiratory therapists who want to enter the sleep technology field.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine offers the Accredited Sleep Technologist Education Program (A-STEP) through various sleep and health centers. Beginning with an 80-hour educational course and ending with a nine-month on-the-job training period, the A-STEP program is designed to help you learn the fundamentals of sleep science and technology as well as gain clinical experience in a sleep center.

How Could I Advance My Career?

After you have finished a training program and started working as a sleep technologist, you may choose to seek certification to demonstrate your professional ability and knowledge. The American Board of Sleep Medicine offers the Registered Polysomnographic Technologist (RPSGT) designation, which you are eligible to test for after you meet both education and experience requirements.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technicians have aspects of their work that is similar to the tasks sleep technologists perform. Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technicians need a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree. They may also need to be certified. Like sleep technologists, diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technicians prepare patients for procedures and monitor them during those procedures.

Sonographers and cardiovascular technicians operate specialized imaging equipment to run tests or create images that help doctors diagnosis medical conditions. Diagnostic medical sonographers create ultrasounds of human organs and tissues while cardiovascular technicians administer EKG testing that helps medical professionals diagnose heart problems.

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