Neurodiagnostic technologists use specialized equipment to monitor how well a patient’s nervous system is functioning, so doctors can identify and treat neurological problems.
Neurodiagnostic technologists receive extensive training in neurophysiology, so they can identify normal and abnormal electrical activity in the central, nervous, autonomic and peripheral nervous systems. By recording electrical patterns throughout these systems, neurodiagnostic technologists provide valuable data that a physician will use to diagnose and treat conditions such as headaches, dizziness, seizure disorders, strokes and degenerative brain disease.
The tests performed by neurodiagnostic technologists can also help doctors uncover hidden causes of mental disorders and determine whether a patient is “brain dead.”
Neurodiagnostic technologists perform a number of procedures, including:
- Electroencephalograms (EEGs), used to assess brain activity
- Intraoperative neuromonitoring, which tracks brain and nerve function during surgery
- Long-term monitoring, used to diagnose seizures and other disorders
- Polysomnograms, used to diagnose sleep disorders
- Evoked potential studies, in which the technologist measures neurological responses to external stimuli to trace electrical pathways
- Nerve conduction studies, which measure the time it takes to send an electrical signal along a nerve to a specific muscle
The EEG is the most common test performed by neurodiagnostic technologists. Technologists also are responsible for ensuring the safety of patients and staff and maintaining and calibrating equipment.
Neurologists depend on neurodiagnostic technologists to provide accurate data and analysis. The neurodiagnostic technologist must, therefore, have the knowledge, judgment and critical thinking skills to ensure that the results reported are accurate and complete.
Neurodiagnostic technologists work with patients of all ages. They work in hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, epilepsy monitoring units, sleep disorder centers and research institutions. Most of their procedures are performed in labs stocked with the equipment required to conduct neurodiagnostic studies.
Neurodiagnostic monitoring procedures can last from an hour or two to prolonged continuous monitoring. During that time, the neurodiagnostic technologist will ensure that the patient is comfortable, answer questions about the procedure and help to relieve any anxiety, while constantly observing the data being recorded by the neurodiagnostic equipment.
Patients undergoing certain surgical procedures require intraoperative neuromonitoring. In this case, the neurodiagnostic technologist will monitor the patient’s EEG or evoked potentials throughout the procedure, providing the surgeon with ongoing information about the patient’s nerve function and/or brain activity.
Salary Range and Outlook
The career potential for neurodiagnostic technologists is excellent. The median starting salaryis $44,200 for a recent neurodiagnostic program graduate. Full-time, self-employed neurodiagnostic professionals may make more than $112,000 per year. The average salary for all neurodiagnostic technologists is $65,226.
Neurodiagnostic technologists need a high school diploma and, preferably, a two-year degree with coursework in the physical or biological sciences.
Training programs in neurodiagnostic technology typically require one to two years of study, including clinical work with patients. Look for a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
There are currently four pathways you can take to become eligible to take the EEG credentialing exam:
- Enrollment in a neurodiagnostic program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) for at least six months
- Completion of a formal neurodiagnostic education program as recognized by the American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists (ABRET) and documentation of 100 EEGs
- Currently employed in neurodiagnostics with an associate’s degree or Registered Polysomnographic Technologist™ (RPSGT) credential with one year of clinical EEG experience, documentation of 150 EEGs post experience and 30 EEG ASET-CEUs
- Currently employed in neurodiagnostics with two years of clinical EEG experience, documentation of 200 EEGs post experience and 60 EEG ASET-CEUs.
Neurodiagnostic technologists must have a current CPR/basic cardiac life support (BCLS) certification to take the exams. The registry exam consists of two written exams.
In high school:
- Take math, science, biology, computer and language courses.
- Volunteer at a hospital, rehabilitation center or other facility to gain experience working with seriously ill people.
After high school:
- Enroll in a neurodiagnostic program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs that grants an associate degree or higher.
Some states are considering licensure requirements for neurodiagnostic technologists, particularly those who perform polysomnographs.
- American Association of Electrodiagnostic Technologists
- American Association of Sleep Technologists
- American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists
- ASET - The Neurodiagnostic Society