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What Is a Dialysis Technician? - Job Description & Duties

Oct 17, 2019

Dialysis technician jobs are vital for patients afflicted with renal disease as they oversee the dialysis process. Learn what a dialysis technician does, how much they make, and how to start a career in the field.

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Dialysis Technician Definition

Dialysis technicians are allied health professionals who work closely with patients undergoing treatment for acute or chronic renal disease. A dialysis tech oversees the dialysis process, which works to remove toxins from patients whose kidneys no longer function properly. Here we discuss some details about a career as a dialysis technician.

What Does a Dialysis Technician Do?

A dialysis technician may work in a range of settings, including hospitals, labs, and other on-site dialysis locations. These professionals must ensure that their work environment is sterile and safe for patients as they undergo dialysis treatment, which can last up to 4 hours. Other primary responsibilities include making sure the dialysis machine is working properly and monitoring anticoagulant and fluid rates during dialysis. Dialysis technicians may perform other job duties, such as:

  • Talking with patients and answering questions to ease anxiety
  • Monitoring patients' vitals
  • Applying local anesthesia and placing the needle for dialysis
  • Disinfecting dialysis equipment
  • Assembling dialysis equipment
  • Handling any alarms or emergencies that occur during dialysis
  • Testing machine function
  • Adjusting treatment as needed
  • Maintaining detailed medical records

It is important to note that dialysis technicians are likely to work with the same patients as they undergo treatment. Technicians must be able to communicate effectively with these patients and provide some level of emotional support during treatment. This can also be challenging as some patients' conditions may worsen.

How Much Do Dialysis Technicians Make?

According to PayScale.com, the hourly pay range for dialysis technicians was $12 to $20 as of September 2019. This equated to a median annual salary of $36,000 annually. Hourly rates varied with factors like employer, location, and experience. For example, dialysis technicians with 10 to 19 years of work experience reported an hourly wage of $18.42, while those with 20 years or more work experience earned an hourly wage of $20.02.

The website also reported that the median hourly wage for a certified dialysis technician was $16.33 in September 2019. This equated to a median annual salary of $34,000. Again, these rates varied based on work experience, employer, and location. For example, certified dialysis technician jobs were likely to pay more than the median salary in places like New York, NY, and Columbus, OH.

How Do You Become a Dialysis Technician?

Students wishing to become a kidney dialysis technician typically need to complete at least a certificate program in the field. There are some online dialysis technician courses and certificate programs available.

Some of these certificate programs may require as little as 50 hours and others may require clinical externship experiences. Course topics for these certificate programs may include:

  • Managing hazardous waste
  • Renal physiology
  • Peritoneal dialysis
  • Body chemistry
  • Hemodialysis

Certification

To become a certified dialysis technician, students need to complete a more advanced dialysis technician program, such as a 600-hour program or associate's degree program in clinical hemodialysis. These programs help prepare students for certification exams like the Certified Hemodialysis Technician (CHT) exam or the Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician (CCHT) exam. Certification mandates vary from state and state and can vary based on the patient care procedures the technician engages in.

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