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

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

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Do I Want to Be a Sleep Technologist?

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

Technologists may need to stand for long periods of time and be required to perform heavy lifting. These professionals typically work at night; however, the workweek may only be three or four days. Additionally, these workers may work days scoring sleep studies and managing a center.

Job Requirements

Individuals interested in becoming a polysomnography technologist must either earn an associate's degree or complete a polysomnography training program. Certification through the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists is also required. The table below includes information from the American Association of Sleep Technologists about the requirements to become a sleep technologist.

Common Requirements
Degree Level Associate's degree
Degree Field Polysomnography technology
Certification Certification from the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists required
Key Skills Detail oriented and able to communicate with patients
Additional Skills Ability to stand for long periods of time, crouch and lift 50 pounds

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 associate's degree in polysomnography combines academic coursework with a clinical component that prepare graduates to work as sleep technologists. In addition to 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 pre-test, testing and post-test 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 Tips:

  • 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 may also be beneficial.
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