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Sleep Apnea Technician Education Requirements and Career Info

Sleep apnea is a condition which causes people to experience shallow breathing, or to stop breathing altogether when they're sleeping. Sleep apnea technicians use electronic devices to study heart activity and brain waves of patients while they're asleep. They help to diagnose sleep apnea, narcolepsy, insomnia and other sleep disorders.

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Education Requirements

The first step in becoming a sleep apnea technician is acquiring an associate's degree in polysomnography. Any degree program must be accredited by the Association of Polysomnographic Technologists.

Students can also train in another healthcare specialty, and later cross-train for a career in polysomnography. As part of their studies, sleep apnea technicians will need to take classes in chemistry, physiology, math, statistics and computer science, among others. Students will also require training in interpersonal communication and speech in order to relate to their patients. Most degree programs contain a hands-on learning component where students learn to use sleep study equipment, often working alongside an established sleep technician at a local hospital or clinic.

Upon completion of the degree program, graduates should consider becoming licensed by registering for the exam given by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT). Sitting for the exam isn't required, but many employers prefer to hire applicants who have taken and passed this exam. Becoming certified demonstrates that the sleep apnea technician is highly skilled and has met the standards of the BRPT.

Career Information

Salaries for sleep apnea technicians depend upon a number of variables, including location, level of experience, and the employer. As of December 2013, the middle 50% of sleep technicians earned $44,305-$56,119, according to Salary.com; the median salary was $50,227.

The Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (www.brpt.org) reported that there were about 7,000 registered polysomnographic technologists around the world. It also offers the Certified Polysomnographic Technician (CPSGT) and Registered Polysomnographic Technologist (RPSGT) credentials.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics