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Sleep Technician Certification and Certificate Program Information

By monitoring the movements of sleeping patients and collecting data, polysomnographic technicians, also known as sleep technicians, provide this data to a sleep physician, who can then give a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. A certificate in sleep technology will prepare students to take the national examination given by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT).

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Certificate in Polysomnographic (Sleep) Technology

The diagnoses and treatment of sleep disorders are augmented by the use of polysomnography, also known as a sleep study. A sleep study is used in a variety of settings such as sleep clinics, hospitals or home care to gather extensive data regarding the patient's physiologic activity while asleep.

Some of the data collected includes blood oxygen levels, electrocardiograms (ECG), electroencephalography (EEG), eye movements, muscle activity and breathing patterns. A sleep technologist performs these tests provides data to a specializing physician who decides on a diagnosis and appropriate therapy.

Education Prerequisites

Students applying to this program should have a strong foundation in high school or college biology, chemistry and mathematics. Starting in January 2011, all registered polysomnographic technologists will be required to recertify their credentials every five years. Recertification may be achieved by passing an exam or by accumulating a total of 50 hours of continuing education credits in the given five year period.

Program Coursework

Most polysomnographic certificate programs last about one year. Program coursework will often include a clinical rotation in order to provide students with hands-on experience working with a physician in a variety of settings. Other coursework may consist of operating non-invasive monitoring equipment and learning proper protocol regarding patient interaction.

Completion of the sleep technology certificate will allow the graduate to test for the national registry exam in Polysomnographic Technology and to become accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Courses in the program may include the following:

  • Stages of sleep
  • Physiology of sleep
  • Sleep data equipment
  • Sleep center management
  • Sleep disorders in women
  • Pediatric and neonatal polysomnography
  • Interventions in gas exchange

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have specific data on sleep technicians, but it does report information on various health technologists and technicians. In 2012, the BLS stated that there were 84,510 health technicians and technologists working in the country. These professionals earned $40,700 as a median annual wage in 2012 as well.

Continuing Education

For those who are already employed in the field, additional courses are available in polysomnography, polysomnographic scoring, pediatric polysomnography and sleep center management. Continuing education courses are aimed at providing the polysomnographic technician an opportunity to lead in a managerial role and also can be used to meet the new BRPT requirements or continuing education credits.

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