How To Become A Sleep Technologist
Sleep medicine is a medical field that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. A sleep technologist is also known as a polysomnographer. As a sleep technologist, you will help conduct tests to figure out why people are having trouble sleeping. You will work with specialized equipment, monitoring patients as they sleep.
This is a good career field for somebody who is interested in health care, finds sleep medicine to be an exciting specialty, and wants to administer tests, rather than be involved with diagnosing patients.
Why Become A Sleep Technologist
Sleep medicine is a relatively new field. Starting in the middle of the 20th century, doctors became interested in learning about the sleep cycles of people. Because this is a new field, there are lots of opportunities available. Positions exist in this field that did not exist 30 years ago. This is a good career choice for somebody who is interested in a new and emerging healthcare specialty.
Although sleep is a necessary part of human life, many people are unable to sleep properly. Some of the most common sleeping disorders include sleep apnea (a patient stops breathing during sleep), narcolepsy, cataplexy, hypersomnia and more.
As a sleep technologist, you will administer tests to understand a patient’s sleep patterns. You greet the patient, communicate with them to help them understand the study, and make them feel comfortable. A sleep technologist places wires and tape onto the patient. Once the patient is sleeping, the technologist monitors the data onto a computer. After the study is completed, the data is given to a doctor, who evaluates the information and can give a diagnosis and treatment plan for the patient.
Sleep Technologists should have the following qualities and skills:
- Enjoys medical field
- Good communicator
- Active listening
- Attention to detail
- Physical stamina
Sleep Technologist Work Environment
Sleep technologists mainly work in hospital settings. This position requires working on a team, with other healthcare professionals. They are required to do lots of standing and being on their feet for long periods of time. They come into frequent contact with patients who may have illnesses or injuries. Sleep technologists conduct sleep studies, which require watching a patient sleep, and monitoring them during the test.
Because of this, sleep technologists most often work overnight. A sleep technologist must be comfortable with working long, overnight hours, and being able to sleep during the day. They must be kind and compassionate. This position involves working directly with patients. They must be able to work with specialized equipment.
Sleep Technologist Salary
The median annual salary for sleep technologists was $51,000 in 2016, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There are many industries that employ sleep technologists, and your industry may affect your salary. Hospitals tend to have the highest salaries within the field. Medical and diagnostic laboratories also tend to pay high salaries to sleep technologists. Universities may also employ sleep technologists, although the rate of pay is not typically as lucrative. Sleep technologists with additional years of education and experience may be able to earn a higher salary.
Sleep Technologist Career Outlook
Employment for sleep technologists is expected to increase by 14 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than other occupations within the United States.
Health care will always be a necessary field. New health care rules and regulations have made it possible for people to have access to doctors and medical providers. More people than ever are taking an interest in their health and seeking out medical professionals. Many people have medical illnesses and disorders that can affect their sleep. Sleep technologists will be needed to conduct tests and work on teams, promoting patient care.
Sleep Technologist Degree
There are many pathways involved to becoming a sleep technologist. Most of the time, a sleep technologist only needs a high school diploma. There is no college education or necessary degree required for this profession. Certification is required and varies from state to state, so it is important that people wanting to explore this career field research the individual requirements in their state.
There are three main ways that a person can become a sleep technologist:
- Graduate of a CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs) or CoARC polysomnography education program. These are specialized college education programs for healthcare professionals. Students gain their degree in about two years.
- Current RPSGT credential (Registered Polysomnographic Technologist). In order to earn the RPSGT credential, a student may graduate from a CAAHEP or COARC polysomnography program, as outlined above. They can also earn a RPSGT credential by completing a STAR program or another approved healthcare credential.
- Complete an A-STEP Introductory program and Self-study Modules. Must have experience working in an AASM sleep center, anywhere from 6 months to 3 years.