Polysomnographic Technician: Employment Outlook & Info

Mar 21, 2019

Polysomnographic technicians observe and record the behaviors of sleeping patients in sleep laboratories. Find out about education and training requirements for this career, as well as for alternative careers.

Career Definition for a Polysomnographic Technician

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, there are three levels of polysomnographic professionals, or 'sleep techs', and a polysomnographic technician is the mid-level. Under the supervision of a polysomnographic technologist, a polysomnographic technician prepares patients for observation in a sleep lab by taking a medical history, explaining procedures and familiarizing the patient with the setting. He or she will also 'score' the test results and prepare data for the technologist to interpret. The job of a polysomnographic technician can be physically demanding, sometimes requiring long shifts (but a shorter work week) and often requiring the polysomnographic technician to stay awake through the night to observe a sleeping patient.

Education Experience as an assistant or related skills
Job Skills Communication, overnight shifts, writing skills, handling delicate equipment
Median Salary (2019)* $50,878 for registered polysomnographic technologists
Job Growth (2016-2026)** 14% for medical and clinical lab technicians

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

Required Education

One may be hired as a polysomnographic technician on the basis of experience as a polysomnographic assistant or through other related skills. The completion of a 1-year program in polysomnographic studies is required to become a technologist; however, many people interested in becoming polysomnographic technicians complete 1-year programs to increase their opportunities for hiring and promotion.

Required Skills

Persons seeking a career in polysomnography must have strong communication and interpersonal skills because they are required to assist and extract information from patients. They must also be willing to work long shifts, sometimes through the night, handle delicate medical equipment and possess adequate writing skills to prepare reports.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide employment data specifically for sleep technicians, but it does profile related fields. According to the BLS, jobs for medical and clinical laboratory technicians are expected to increase by 14% between 2016 and 2026, which is about as fast as average. Additionally, reported that registered polysomnographic technologists earned a median salary of $50,878 as of 2019.

Alternative Career Options

Check out these alternatives in the field of clinical assisting:

Psychiatric Technician

Like sleep technicians, psychiatric technicians observe and document patient behaviors. Psychiatric technicians also help mentally ill patients with daily activities. Psychiatric technicians can complete a certificate or 2-year degree program to prepare for work in this field. Many technicians also receive on-the-job training. In a few states, licensure is required to work in this field. According to the BLS, psychiatric technicians had a median annual salary of $31,670 as of May 2017. The BLS expects jobs for psychiatric technicians to increase by 6% from 2016 to 2026, which is the average pace.

Vocational Nurse

For those interested in working with patients who are awake, the job of a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) may be a good fit. LVNs work in a variety of medical settings and may take a patient's blood pressure and other vital signs and report them to a nurse or doctor. Vocational nurses, also called practical nurses, must be licensed and complete a formal education program. Licensure requires passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN). According to the BLS, jobs for LVNs are expected to increase by 12%, which is a faster than average pace, from 2016 to 2026. As of May 2017, the median annual salary for LVNs was $45,030.

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