EEG Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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An EEG technologist averages about $41,000 a year, but is it worth the training requirements? Get the truth about the job descriptions and salary information to decide if this is the right career for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in EEG Technology

An electroencephalogram (EEG) technologist is responsible for operating EEG equipment, which is used to diagnose sleep, brain and neurological disorders. While a career in EEG technology can be a solid option, consider the pros and cons before making your decision.

Pros of a Career in EEG Technology
Need only an associate's degree*
Many specialty options**
Good salary (About $41,000 for health technologists)***

Cons of a Career in EEG Technology
Few accredited training programs (only 18 offer associate degrees)**
Can be physically taxing with long hours, night shifts and exposure to illnesses***
Some states require licensing for certain types of techs****

Sources: *American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists, **Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, ***U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ****ASET - The Neurodiagnostic Society

Career Information

Job Description

EEG technology is one area in the field of neurodiagnostic technology, which is the monitoring and recording of electrical activity in the brain and nervous system. Studying the pattern of electrical activity helps physicians diagnose conditions such as epilepsy, strokes, sleep disorders and brain tumors, as well as measure the impact that injuries and diseases have on the brain. An EEG technologist applies electrodes to precise spots on the patient's head, and then adjusts the instrumentation to compensate for outside interference. A physician will interpret the electrical patterns that the technologist records.

Most EEG technologists fall under the broader job title of electroneurodiagnostic (END) technologists because their jobs encompass much more than basic EEGs. They may gauge sensory and physical responses to stimuli through evoked potential (EP) testing. Some END technologists work in sleep study laboratories, staying up all night to monitor the patient's breathing and heart and brain activity. Other tests involve diagnosing muscle and nerve disorders by checking response times to electrical stimuli.

Hospitals employ most END technologists, but some work in the offices of neurologists and neurosurgeons and in clinics. You may have to be on your feet for many hours, and the job can include moving cumbersome equipment to a patient's bedside. You will often be working with very ill individuals and may be exposed to infectious diseases.

Career and Salary Info

Growth in this field is expected to be greater than average, according to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), which attributed this trend to greater utilization of EEG and EP during surgeries, as well as in diagnosing and examining patients with epilepsy and sleep disorders. Salary statistics for EEG technologists are difficult to find, however the BLS reported in May 2014 that health technologists, which includes the subset of EEG technologist, earned a median annual salary of $41,420.

What Are the Requirements?

Education

You can prepare for an EEG technologist career in high school by taking science, computer, math and language courses. You will need an associate's degree from a CAAHEP accredited program in neurodiagnostic technology. Most programs are associated with 2-year colleges; others are affiliated with hospitals or taught at vocational schools. In your training, you'll study medical terminology, anatomy and the clinical skills needed to become an electroneurodiagnostic technologist. People who are currently in an allied health care field may be able to achieve the necessary training through special programs or by taking online courses. You don't have to be licensed to be an EEG technologist, but may need a license if you want to become a specialist in sleep disorders.

Certification

ASET recommends that technologists apply for professional credentials or certifications in at least one area of neurodiagnostic technology. The American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists (ABRET) offers credentials to EEG and EP technologists who have an associate's degree and two years experience and who pass an examination. The certifications must be renewed every three years, and technologists must keep their knowledge updated through continuing-education courses.

Useful Skills

ASET says the increasing sophistication of neurodiagnostic procedures requires technologists who bring with them the sound base of knowledge needed to make independent decisions. EEG technologists should also possess: solid written and oral communications skills, mechanical ability, manual dexterity, and good eyesight.

What Employers Want

Education and certification are the common requirements in most job postings for EEG technologists. Many employers want someone certified in more than one specialty. Here is a sampling of job postings from real employers in April 2012:

  • In Florida, a company was looking for an EEG technologist who was experienced in surgical monitoring as well as clinical EEG procedures. The individual had to be certified in EEGs and in neurophysiologic intraoperative monitoring. EP experience was desired.
  • A health care group in Michigan needed someone with EEG and EP certification to lead EEG teams at three hospitals. This person must be able to bend, lift or push more than 100 pounds and be able to maintain a calm demeanor in stressful circumstances.
  • A hospital in Colorado needed a certified EEG technologist to provide inpatient and outpatient testing. The employer wanted a technologist with experience in epilepsy monitoring.
  • In Minnesota, an epilepsy treatment center needed a technologist experienced in epilepsy and operating room monitoring. The employer preferred someone with multiple certifications. This person should have been able to coordinate care with a multidisciplinary team.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Specialize

Most employers want someone who holds certification in several specialty fields. You must have monitored at least 150 surgeries to apply for ABRET's certification examination in neurophysiologic intraoperative monitoring, in addition to holding an EEG or EP certification. You can apply for the examination in long-term monitoring after you have held your EEG technologist certification for 18 months in this specialty.

Some states require licenses for technologists who assess sleep disorders, while others will accept certification by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT). You can qualify through several combinations of experience, an approved self-study course or an accredited polysomnographic program.

Other Career Paths

Radiologic Technologist

If you want a bigger salary than an EEG technologist makes, perhaps you should consider becoming a radiologic technologist, operating X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging equipment to obtain images of the body's internal structures. Like an EEG technologist, you'll need an associate's degree. However, the pay is likely to be higher: the median annual salary for radiologic technologists was around $55,000 in May 2011, according to the BLS. The BLS predicted 28% employment growth from 2010-2020, faster than average for all occupations.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Another similar occupation with lots of specialty options is that of diagnostic medical sonographer; these professionals use sound waves to create images of organs and soft tissue. Specialty areas include mammography, obstetric sonography and neurosonography. The BLS predicted employment growth of 44% from 2010-2020, much faster than for all other occupations. You'll need an associate's degree for this job, and many employers want someone who holds professional certification. The median annual salary for people in all areas of diagnostic sonography was around $65,000 in May 2011.

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American University

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Kaplan University

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Grand Canyon University

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Northcentral University

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