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Polysomnographer: Educational Requirements & Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a polysomnographer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certifications to find out if this is the career for you.

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It is possible to begin a career researching and gathering data on sleep and sleep disorders with an associate's degree or certificate in polysomnographic technology. High job growth of 16% is expected for all medical and clinical lab technicians from 2014-2024, and those who complete the required training should find openings in this field upon graduation.

Essential Information

Workers in the field of polysomnography research and collect data on sleep and sleep disorders. Polysomnography technologists attach machines and monitors to patients to record body and brain functions during sleep sessions. Technologists require specific training in the field of polysomnography, including how to use equipment, monitor patients and perform basic life-support techniques. Read further for the education requirements needed for a career in polysomnography.

Required Education Associate's degree or certificate in polysomnographic technology
Other Requirements Internships common; certification preferred
Projected Job Growth 16% from 2014-2024 for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians*
Median Salary (2016) $50,046 (registered polysomnographic technologist)**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com

Polysomnographer Educational Requirements

Degree and Certificate Programs

Information from the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT) showed that educational requirements to become a registered polysomnography technologist included completing polysomnographic coursework from a recognized degree, certificate or self-study program. Associate degree and certificate programs in polysomnographic technology cover coursework such as sleep disorder pathology, polysomnographic patient care, sleep study assessment techniques and polysomnographic equipment.

Most programs require students to participate in clinical internships. Conducted mainly in sleep laboratories, polysomnographic clinics provide students with the opportunity to practice using polysomnographic equipment, including electroencephalograph (EEG), electrooculogram (EOG) and electromyography (EMG) machines. Clinics also teach students how to watch sleeping patients and how to notate specific symptoms indicative of potential sleep disorders.

Certification Information

Although not necessarily required in all states, workers can choose to become certified in polysomnography. The BRPT offers a certified polysomnographic technologist (CPSGT) program for currently working polysomnography technologists. Before taking the CPSGT exam, applicants must complete a minimum of 432 hours working as paid polysomnography technologists. Applicants must also meet the education requirements, which usually include completing a degree or certificate program in polysomnography.

The CPSGT exam consists of several categories, including polysomnographic theory, patient assessment, monitoring procedures, sleep-related breathing disorders and equipment usage. Upon passing the exam, the certification will be active for three years. To maintain certification after the first three years, workers must participate in continued education coursework related to polysomnographic studies.

Polysomnography Career Info

Job Duties

Polysomnography technologists, also known as sleep technologists, run tests on patients living with sleep disorders. Workers take patient vital signs prior to sleep and then attach various electrodes and sensors onto the patient to monitor brain activity during sleep. Polysomnography technologists also use equipment to monitor a patient's breathing patterns during sleep.

As patients sleep, polysomnography technologists carefully write notes about all observed behaviors. For example, workers may notate body movements during sleep, abnormal breathing patterns or irregular brain functions. After gathering all necessary data, polysomnography technologists write their findings in reports and submit those reports to physicians for diagnosing and treatment options.

Workers also talk with patients concerning sleep disorders. Some polysomnography technologists provide patients with advice on how to change lifestyle habits to obtain more restful sleep sessions. Technologists also conduct various forms of cognitive testing on patients, such as testing a patient's ability to make logical choices before and after sleep cycles.

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide employment outlook statistics specifically for careers in polysomnography, but it provides information on clinical and medical laboratory technologists (www.bls.gov). The BLS predicted that between the years 2014 and 2024 open positions for clinical and medical laboratory technologists will increase by 16%. PayScale.com notes that registered polysomnographic technologists earned a median of $50,046 as of 2016.

Polysomnographers are typically employed by hospitals or diagnostic laboratories. They monitor patients and collect and assess data to determine if the individual has a sleep disorder. These professionals are usually required to have an associate's degree or postsecondary certificate in polysomnography to enter this career field.

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