How to Become a Sleep Technician in the U.S.

Learn how to become a sleep technician. Research the job duties, education and licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career in polysomnography.

Should I Become a Sleep Technician?

Sleep technicians, also called polysomnographic technicians, work under the supervision of sleep technologists, respiratory therapists or physicians to evaluate sleep patterns and disorders. At minimum, these professionals must complete a year-long training program with an accredited institution or spend six months as a sleep trainee. Training programs provide instruction on how to use special equipment that monitors patients' sleep patterns, including brain, breathing, and cardiac activity. Sleep technicians work in hospitals or dedicated sleep centers, and are commonly expected to work night shifts.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Certificate
Degree Field Polysomnography
Experience Six months training in lieu of certificate
Licensure and Certification Some states require a license; CPR or BCLS certification required; voluntary certification available
Key Skills Written and verbal communication, critical thinking, social, customer service and computer skills, ability to operate breathing and monitoring devices, and work under minimal supervision
Salary $16.81 per hour (2015 average wage for all sleep technicians)

Sources: American Association of Sleep Technologists, (July 2015), Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists

Step 1: Complete a Training Program

The training program for sleep technicians typically lasts for a year. Students learn how to operate equipment commonly used during sleep studies, such as the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and electroencephalogram (EEG) machines. Students may also be required to complete an internship at a sleep lab. Some schools offer the Accredited Sleep Technologist Education Program (A-STEP) developed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), an acceptable program for licensing. Some individuals can be employed as sleep trainees while participating in an A-STEP training program.

Success Tip

  • Become certified in life-saving techniques. Sleep technicians are required to be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or basic cardiac life support (BCLS). A training program may not include lifesaving certification, so students will have to pursue additional coursework for CPR or BCLS training.
  • Consider completing a 2-year degree program. Although not required to gain employment, employers often prefer to hire candidates with an associate's degree.

Step 2: Obtain a License

Licensing laws regarding sleep technicians vary from state to state, with some states requiring licensure. To become licensed, individuals must pass an exam and may be required to submit proof of education. In some cases, temporary licenses may be issued for technicians. Licenses have to be renewed on a regular basis, depending on the state and type of license.

Step 3: Become Certified

Upon completion of an accredited polysomnography program, sleep technicians become eligible for certification by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists as a Certified Polysomnographic Technician (CPSGT). Eligible candidates must be able to successfully pass an exam. The certification lasts for three years. Alternatively, individuals who have completed a minimum number of clinical hours in conjunction with didactic training may also become eligible to take the exam. Certification is not mandatory for employment.

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