Become a Polysomnographer: Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a polysomnographer. Learn about the job description, and explore the step-by-step process to start a career in polysomnography. View article »

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  • 0:03 Should I Become a…
  • 0:58 Earn CPR or BCLS Certification
  • 1:35 Complete a Training Program
  • 2:08 Acquire Professional…
  • 2:43 Obtain Licensure
  • 3:09 Pursue Continuing Education

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Polysomnographer?

Also known as sleep technologists, polysomnographers conduct sleep studies, measuring the brain activity, blood pressure and other vital signs of patients. They also study sleep and breathing disorders, including sleep apnea, night terrors, and snoring. Working weekends and nights if often required.

Degree Level Certificate or associate's degree
Degree Field Polysomnography
Licensure and Certification Some states require a license; Certification required; CPR or BCLS certification required
Experience 6-18 months required for certification of individuals without appropriate education
Key Skills Communication, social, assessment, and calibration skills, as well as good depth perception, familiar with positive airway pressure (PAP) masks, piezoelectric belts, and CO2 monitors, ability to stand for long periods of time and lift 10-50 pounds
Salary (2016) $50,046 (median annual salary for registered polysomnographic technologists)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; American Association of Sleep Technologists; various state medical boards; American Society of Electroneurodiagnostic Technologists, Inc.; Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT); O*NET OnLine; PayScale

Let's trace the steps to become a polysomnographer.

Earn CPR or BCLS Certification

Sleep technologists are required to be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or basic cardiac life support (BCLS) to qualify for certification (more on that in a bit). Some schools also require that students be certified in CPR or BCLS to be admitted to a polysomnography program. Training is available through private companies, schools, and non-profit organizations, like the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross. Students can find both online and in-person courses.

Complete a Training Program

Most training programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs last approximately one year, while some programs incorporate general education courses to form an associate's degree program. Students learn to use equipment that measures brain activity, heart activity, and breathing, including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines and electroencephalograms (EEGs). Students typically complete a hands-on internship or practicum.

Acquire Professional Credentials

Employers generally seek sleep technologists who are certified as Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (RPSGTs) and some states require proof of certification in order for professionals to obtain licensure. Eligibility for the certification exam is based on education and experience. Work experience isn't required for individuals who have completed an accredited training program. The exam consists of five domains and a resource manual is available to help applicants prepare for the exam.

Obtain Licensure

Many states require that polysomnography practitioners be licensed. To obtain licensure, individuals must submit proof of education and training to a state licensing board. A fee might be required and many states require applicants to pass the RPSGT certification exam instead of a state licensing exam. Licenses must be renewed on a regular basis which varies by state.

Pursue Continuing Education

To renew their RPSGT certification, which must be done every five years, sleep technologists must earn a minimum number of continuing education credits or take the certification exam again. Individuals interested in the continuing education option can find training through various professional organizations. In addition to standard courses, the American Association of Sleep Technologists offers continuing education options via webinars and pre-recorded programs.

To review, polysomnographers, also known as sleep technologists, need to earn CPR or BCLS certification, complete a training program, and acquire professional credentials. They also might need to obtain state licensure.

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