What Does a Medical Instrument Technician Do?

Medical instrument technicians operate diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical equipment. Read on to learn more about what you could do as a medical instrument technician. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Definition

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management defines medical instrument technicians as healthcare workers who operate and maintain the medical equipment used for therapeutic treatments, imaging bodily structures, monitoring organs, or surgical support (www.opm.gov). Most such positions require basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology as well as a thorough understanding of a particular piece of equipment or medical procedure.

Important Facts About Medical Instrument Technician Careers

Medical Sonographer Cardiovascular Technologist Surgical Technologist
Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree Associate's or bachelor's degree Post-secondary diploma or certificate
Licensure Not required in most states Registration may be required by state Not required in most states
Professional Certification Available from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers Cardiovascular Credentialing International offers certification Voluntary certification is available
Median Salary (2018)* $72,510 $56,850 $47,300
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 23% 10% 12%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


While it is possible to train in the use of more than one type of medical instrument, all medical instrument technicians do not necessarily know how to operate and maintain a wide variety of instruments. Most job openings will require that you possess knowledge of a specific type of medical instrument. You could choose to specialize in the use of medical technologies that include the following:

  • Electrocardiograph (EKG)
  • Electroencephalograph (EEG)
  • Electromyograph (EMG)
  • Exercise tolerance testing system or stress test
  • Ultrasound
  • Spirometer
  • Arterial blood gas analyzer
  • Dialyzer

Job Duties

In general, as a medical instrument technician, you'll clean, maintain, and test medical instruments. You may also operate equipment while under the direction of a physician and perform a test or procedure. Your job will likely require frequent patient contact and you'll need to have excellent communication skills. You may be responsible for positioning the patient, explaining procedures, and ensuring a patient's comfort during testing. Depending on the procedure, you may be called upon to monitor a patient for a long period of time. For example, while performing hemodialysis, the dialyzer may need to function for hours before the filtering process is complete.


The level of education you'll need to complete will depend on the area of specialization that you'd like to pursue. Most medical instrument technicians are required to have at least a year of experience, either through previous employment or an accredited training program. Other positions may require an associate's or bachelor's degree in a field like surgical technology or cardiovascular technology. Most jobs in this field also require you to know how to perform basic life support techniques, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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