Become a Sleep Technologist: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a sleep technologist. Research the education, career, licensure and experience requirements for starting a career as a sleep technologist.

Should I Become a Sleep Technologist?

Sleep technologists, often referred to as polysomnography technologists, perform studies on patients suffering from sleeping disorders. The duties of these technologists include preparing rooms and patients for observation, monitoring patients as they sleep and recording results. Employment opportunities are available in sleep study centers and hospitals.

Technologists stand for long periods of time, and crouch and lift up to 50 pounds. These professionals typically work at night; however, the workweek may only be three or four days. Additionally, these workers spend time during the day scoring sleep studies and managing a center.

Career Requirements

Degree LevelAssociate's degree
Degree FieldPolysomnography technology
CertificationCertification is required
Key SkillsDetail oriented and able to communicate with patients
Salary (2015)$52,020 per year (Median salary)

Source: Payscale.com

Step 1: Complete a Training Program

Completing a Sleep Technology Approved Resource (STAR) Program prepares individuals for sleep technologist certification through an organized, self-study program. In addition to computer based work, individuals complete 80 hours of lecture and clinical training. The program covers topics involving polysomnographic instrumentation and procedures, patient interaction and monitoring, sleep disorders, data analysis, and reporting and equipment preparation.

Step 2: Earn an Associate's Degree

Although completing a STAR program is all that's required to work as a sleep technologist, employers might look for candidates with a college degree. An associates degree in polysomnography combines academic coursework with a clinical component to prepare graduates for working as a sleep technologist. After finishing general education requirements, students take courses in polysomnography instrumentation theory, clinical fundamentals of polysomnography, sleep disorders, therapeutic interventions and clinical patient management. Students complete the clinical portion of the program at a sleep center, where they work under the supervision of experienced sleep technologists.

Success Tip:

  • Learn how to communicate with patients. While completing the clinical portion of the program, pay close attention to how technologists instruct patients. Learn how to explain pretest, testing and posttest procedures to ensure that patients understand laboratory protocols.

Step 3: Obtain Certification

Certification as a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist is available through the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT). Applicants must pass an examination to become certified. There are four pathways to become eligible for the exam, most of which require graduation from an accredited college degree program or approved STAR program, and completion of a clinical work experience. This certification is necessary, and study guides and practice exams are available from the organization.

Success Tip:

  • Begin studying well in advance. The BRPT recommends that applicants begin studying for the exam at least six months prior to their testing date. Establishing a set time each week and studying with a partner is beneficial.

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