I have met many people who became interested in my chosen field. It is such a strange field to find education in and so many people do not know how to become a sleep technician. They may hear that you can just find someone who will hire and train you or you may have heard you need to take a 2 week class or you may wonder where there are schools so you can get your degree. Well all of them are right and all of them are incomplete. So let’s look at what it takes to get into the field
The first thing you need to look at is what the job entails. If you do not think you can perform the job than you might not want to go into the field. Most of the jobs are night shift jobs and many people have to work on weekends. This is part of being in healthcare and is common in many fields. You need to be able to work alone and make decisions within posted guidelines. Many technicians work alone as many of the labs are small. You can have anywhere from 1 to 3 patients during the night. You will make decisions during the night on whether to start therapy or change the level of therapy so you have to know how to make decisions. You have to be detailed oriented. The doctor will need to know why you made your decisions. You will also need to perform a study that is clean and easy to read. Not making corrections could lead to the patient returning and an upset doctor.
Where do I get my education? Well the field is in transition. College programs are being developed around the country for sleep techs. Some of the programs are add on programs for EEG techs or Respiratory Therapists others are stand alone programs that will allow you to be working within 1-2 years. You could sign up for one of the accredited programs through the American Academy of Sleep Medicine or the Board of Polysomnography Technologists that are generally partially online and partially classroom. These programs give you some hands on education as well as some theory and along with experience people who go through these programs can sit for both the RPSGT and RST credential. Finally you can get an on the job training job. The problem with them is that you are at the mercy of the lab to get your training and if they do not have a program set up you can learn a great many incorrect things as well as out of date information. You will still have to take an online program to sit for your board exams that should help supplement your learning.
Ultimately, with licensure coming on the job training will limit your employment possibilities. You will need to get credentials as soon as possible so you have the opportunity to be grandfathered into some of the licensures. There will still be some states that will be requiring college education so you should look at the state you live in or may want to live in before you make a decision.
If you have any questions of if you have your own experiences to share please share them below because we all can learn from each other.