Sleep Technician Careers: Job Descriptions and Options

Sep 26, 2019

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

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A polysomnographic technician, or more simply, a sleep technician, runs tests on people with sleep disorders. There are a number of options available to polysomnographic technicians as far as professional credentials and training options. Training in polysomnography and CPR certification are the minimum requirements.

Essential Information

A sleep technician, also known as a polysomnographic technician, performs tests and collects data on patients with sleep disorders. Sleep technicians are responsible for giving patients explanations of the impending sleep tests and procedures, preparing equipment for the procedures, recording activities and analyzing results - all while working under the advisement of a clinical director and/or sleep technologist. Sleep technicians need some polysomnographic training as well as basic medical certifications, such as CPR.

Required Education 6-12 months polysomnographic training
Other Requirements CPR/basic cardiac life support certification
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 17% increase (for health technologists and technicians not otherwise categorized)
Median Salary (2018)** $41,901

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

Job Description for a Sleep Technician

Sleep technicians work in places like healthcare centers, clinics and sleep centers where they help evaluate and treat patients with sleep disorders. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), individuals typically begin their careers as sleep trainees, learning about sleep testing procedures and equipment, before advancing to the position of sleep technician (www.aasmnet.org). Once this advancement occurs, the sleep technician is responsible for the many aspects of sleep testing procedures.

Sleep technicians are primarily responsible for preparing equipment, gathering patient information, reviewing study protocols and providing explanations of procedures to patients of sleep studies. He or she must follow proper polysomnographic procedures, including applying electrodes and sensors, calibrating equipment and fitting the positive airways pressure mask.

Their duties also include testing preparation procedures, data acquisition and observation documentation - otherwise known as record scoring. Record scoring mainly involves the scoring of sleep/wake stages, certain clinical events (such as respiratory and cardiac episodes) and the tabulation of final data for further analysis.

According to PayScale.com, sleep technicians earned a median salary of $41,901 as of September 2019. Most of these professionals earned between $25,000 and $60,000.

Job Requirements

In order to work in this field, the sleep technician must have and maintain certification in basic cardiac life support (BCLS) and/or CPR. According to the American Association of Sleep Technicians (AAST), he or she must also comply with regulations and laws concerning safety control, as well as clinic/center-specific protocol (www.aastweb.org). Job listings found on CareerBuilder.com in May 2011 indicate that employers may also look for candidates who have completed an Accredited Sleep Technologist Education Program (A-STEP).

Options for Advancement

The AAST stated that in order to advance toward a position as a sleep technician, individuals must have spent at least one year in a polysomnographic program or six months as a sleep trainee. The sleep technician may then choose to remain in this position or work toward the next level in this profession - the sleep technologist. A sleep technologist is the highest echelon in this particular profession, and employers often prefer to hire technologists who are Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (RPSGT). The credential is awarded by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists and requires several years of experience and passing an exam (www.brpt.org).

Sleep technicians usually start out as sleep trainees and work with patients undergoing sleep tests. A yearlong polysomnographic program or 6 months working as a sleep trainee in addition to basic life support or CPR certification are required for this career. Those who wish to advance their careers can work toward additional credentialing to become sleep technologists.

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