Pros and Cons of an Endoscopy Technician Career
Endoscopy technicians are medical professionals who assist doctors, often gastroenterology specialists, in performing endoscopic procedures. Reading the pros and cons of becoming an endoscopy technician can help you decide if this is the right career for you.
|Pros of Being an Endoscopy Technician|
|Minor educational requirements (associate degree or less)**|
|Benefits package may be included***|
|Job provides variety of duties (assist doctors, clean instruments and prepare patients)**|
|Satisfaction of providing patients with optimal care***|
|Cons of Being an Endoscopy Technician|
|Below-average wages (median annual salary of about $34,620 in 2014)*|
|May be exposed to infectious diseases**|
|Requires standing for long periods**|
|Requires repetitive motions**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **U.S. Department of Labor's O*Net Online, ***Job Posting on Careerbuilder.com
Job Description and Duties
An endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a light and a small camera attached to one end. The camera-based tube is used to examine a patient's gastrointestinal (GI) system, including the stomach, esophagus and colon. Endoscopic procedures are also used for colonoscopy preparation and biopsies. Endoscopy technicians assist doctors and nurses as they perform endoscopic procedures on patients. In addition to assisting during the procedures, these technicians make sure the instruments are stocked, cleaned and sterilized. They may also monitor patients' vital signs using blood pressure cuffs, surgical cautery pads, nasal cannulas and pulse oximeter sensors.
Endoscopy technicians help in transporting and positioning patients as per the requirements of medical personnel. As an endoscopy technician, you may be required to attend training sessions to keep up with new trends in the field or to refresh your skills. This job also requires you to be detail-oriented and flexible to change and variety. Endoscopy technicians are often on their feet for long periods.
Job Prospects and Salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), endoscopy technicians are expected to see an average growth in employment rates from 2014-2024. A growth rate between 9% and 13% was expected for that time period. In 2014, the BLS stated that endoscopy technicians earned a median annual salary of about $34,000.
What Are the Requirements?
Becoming an endoscopy technician typically requires at least a high school diploma. Completion of a specific postsecondary program is not usually required, but certificate and associate degree programs are available for endoscopy technicians. Some of the topics students learn in such programs include patient care, anatomy and physiology, roles of the GI technician, equipment maintenance and sterilization, scope processing, medical terminology and endoscopic procedures. Employers may also prefer industry certification of some sort, including certification as a medical assistant or surgical technologist. Certifications may call for the completion of a relevant postsecondary program from an accredited school. Additionally, they're often required to have Basic Life Support certification.
Endoscopy technicians should possess a particular set of skills to be successful at this career. Some of the skills that are beneficial for endoscopy technicians include:
- Ability to work under stress
- Ability to stand for long periods
- Ability to write legibly
- Good communication, auditory and visual skills
- Critical thinking skills
What Employees Are Looking for
Employees generally prefer employees who have experience working in the operating room (OR) and are familiar with endoscopy equipment and supplies. Basic Life Support certification is commonly required. Employers may also prefer candidates who are certified through organizations like the American Association of Medical Assistants or the National Board of Surgical Technology or Surgical Assisting. Here are a few real job postings open in April 2012.
- A New Jersey endoscopy center is looking for an endoscopy technician to work under the supervision of nurses and assist physicians in endoscopy procedures. Other duties include assisting RNs in the admission, recovery and discharge patient process and caring for endoscopic equipment. The applicant must have a high school diploma, Basic Life Support certification and at least one year experience working in GI or multi-specialty surgical settings. Knowledge of medical terminology and experience with endoscopic reprocessing is also required.
- A New York healthcare service provider is seeking full-time endoscopy technicians to work in their new center, which is scheduled to open this summer. Applicants should have high school diplomas or equivalent as well as experience working in GI or multi-specialty medical environments. Applicants should have Basic Life Support certification. Successful candidates will assist with procedures, reprocess scopes, order supplies and set up patient rooms.
- An endoscopy technician is needed to work in the endoscopy center in a Wisconsin medical facility. The technician assists doctors with procedures, handles and sends specimens, reprocesses scopes and provides patient care both before and after the procedure. An applicant must have a high school diploma or GED certificate, Basic Life Support certification and experience working in an OR/ambulatory setting or as a GI technician.
How to Get an Edge in the Field
Completing a postsecondary program can help you stand out in a field where only about 13% of all professionals have an associate degree, according to O*Net Online. In addition to allowing you to study healthcare subjects and gain some experience, completing a program can qualify you for industry certifications, such as the Certified Medical Assistant or Certified Surgical Technologist credentials, which employers may prefer. Earning a Basic Life Support certification is also a good idea, because it is required by most employers.
Other Fields to Consider
If you're interested in a supportive healthcare position with better job prospects, you could consider becoming a medical assistant. Medical assistants were predicted to see an employment growth of 31% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS. The BLS also stated that medical assistants earned a median annual wage of around $29,000 as of May 2011. In this position, you may have a greater variety of job tasks, because medical assistants typically perform clinical and administrative duties. You can become a medical assistant through on-the-job training or by completing a formal training program, which usually takes around one year to complete and would qualify you for certification.
If you're interested in a career that offers a better salary, you might consider becoming a surgical technologist. As a surgical technologist, you'll assist surgeons in various types of procedures. You'll find more variety in your work as a surgical technologist because you're assisting in various types of surgeries as opposed to only endoscopic procedures. Becoming a surgical technologist requires completion of a certificate or associate's degree program. You can also obtain certifications through several organizations. According to the BLS, employment of surgical techs was predicted to grow 19% between 2010 and 2020. The BLS also reported these workers earned a median annual salary around $41,000 in May 2011.