15 Reasons to Become a Neurodiagnostic Tech
Have you ever wanted to read someone’s mind? Neurodiagnostic technologists almost can! Neurodiagnostic technologists (also known as EEG technologists, or electroneurodiagnostic technologists), use sophisticated equipment and technology to study electrical activity within the brain.
The tests they conduct are critically important in helping doctors diagnose diseases and conditions. It’s a fascinating career that melds patient care with technology. Whether it’s been your lifelong dream to become a neurodiagnostic technologist, or you simply want to understand the job better, we’ve put together a list of why this is such an awesome job.
1. EEG Technologists Work on the Vanguard of Medicine
Your main duty as a neurodiagnostic tech is to run EEG tests on patients. EEG is short for electroencephalography (try saying that three times fast). These tests are an important tool in the field of neurology, a branch of medicine which focuses on the nervous system and includes the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. EEG tests are used to diagnose many disorders and diseases like epilepsy, brain tumors, strokes, sleep disorders, and more.
During the test, small metal discs are placed on a patient’s scalp and then hooked up to a machine to measure the brain’s electrical activity. When neurons “fire” throughout the brain, they produce a small electrical current and EEG equipment tracks the pattern of brain waves. This is a great job for people who want to work in healthcare, but are interested in using complicated technology.
2. Detail-Oriented People Excel in This Job
If you love getting lost in the details, this is a great fit for you. You’ll need to take exact and precise measurements to find the right places to attach electrodes on your patient, ensuring accurate test results each time. You’ll also be expected to carefully record and track brain waves during each procedure.
3. EEG Technologists Are Great Listeners
There are many careers in neurology, but each one requires different strengths. For EEG techs, close-listening skills are a must. While interviewing the patient, you’ll need to record as much information as possible. In many ways, you’re like a detective, collecting details and clues to help a doctor make a diagnosis. Doctors rely on EEG test results, but also need a clearer understanding of a patient’s symptoms and medical history.
4. You’ll Master Thinking on Your Feet
In your role as an EEG technologist, you’ll work on challenging and interesting cases. Neurodiagnostic procedures are vital to better understanding diseases like epilepsy and narcolepsy, which are suffered more widely than they’re understood.
Strong problem-solving skills are essential in this job, as you will often need to decipher results on particularly difficult cases. The information you gather can help doctors work towards better treatments for patients.
5. Working in the Exciting Intersection of Healthcare and Tech
EEG technology was first discovered in 1924 by German neurologist, Hans Berger. He designed the EEG machine to record and track electric brain-waves which revealed activity in the nervous system. The technology has become more sophisticated over time, with some engineers and scientists using EEG to run and control a robot.
As an EEG tech, you get to work firsthand with powerful technology everyday. You’ll become quite adept at running the tests, as well as understanding what the different type of waves mean. You’ll get to use different techniques depending on the case. For example you may conduct tests on sleeping patients, long-term monitoring for epilepsy patients, or monitoring electrical activity during surgery.
6. You’re the Calm in the Storm
Patients sometimes feel overwhelmed by the wires and machinery used in EEG tests. One of the most essential parts of your job is explaining to patients how the equipment works and allay their fears. You need to help them stay calm because stress and muscle tension can affect test results.
7. It’s All About Teamwork and Communication
Cooperation is a critical skill for neurodiagnostic technologists. Whether it’s in the operating room or coordinating on a particularly difficult patient case, you are an important part of your medical team.
You’ll also become an expert communicator in this job. In a survey of EEG technologists, an overwhelming 97% said that face-to-face interaction was one of the most important parts of their job. An additional 79% said they were in constant contact with others. Though EEG techs usually conduct tests on their own, they need to discuss the results with nurses and doctors. EEG technologists have a healthy balance of collaborative and independent work day-to-day.
8. Never a Dull Moment
Working as an EEG technologist is engaging and interesting. You’ll stay mentally active as you analyze test results and discuss cases with doctors and nurses. You’ll also get to spend one-on-one time with patients while preparing them for the EEG procedure, occasionally running tests bedside. Though the job isn’t that physically demanding, you won’t get bored sitting at a desk all day either.
9. You’ll Feel Confident on the Job From Day One
EEG training programs are all about getting first-hand experience before starting the job. Many classes are lab-based, and students are often required to complete a clinical internship. Internships are a great way to take what you’ve learned in the classroom and try it out in a real environment.
Learning alongside medical professionals is exciting, as you can see what life on the job is like firsthand. Students are also usually assigned mentors during their internships. These individuals can become valuable sources of support and guidance even after you’ve passed your certification exams.
10. Find Your Niche
One of the great things about this career is that you can choose unique specializations. Some people choose to work in research facilities or laboratories to assist with important scientific research. Some neurodiagnostic technologists work in sleep labs, where doctors and scientists conduct studies to help better understand problems like insomnia or narcolepsy.
Another exciting specialization is Intraoperative Neurophysiological Monitoring (IONM).In this case, it really is brain surgery (or more specifically, EEG monitoring during surgeries).
11. Growing Neurodiagnostic Technologist Salaries
It’s great to find a career you love, but even better when you earn high wages! Pay for neurodiagnostic technologists is particularly competitive. A study supported by the U.S. Dept of Labor found that yearly salaries in New Jersey start at $32,000 and can go up to $75,000, depending on experience.
The future looks bright too, with the number of jobs expected to grow 19% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
12. It’s an Investment You Can Feel Good About
When considering healthcare careers, it’s important to balance the money you put into your education with the salary you’ll make afterwards. Compared to a medical degree, you won’t spend nearly as much time (or money) in an EEG training program. This means less time training and more time in your dream career.
13. EEG Training Programs Are Flexible
EEG programs typically last between 1-3 years, depending on the type of program. If you’re balancing school with a job or family, some vocational programs offer classes in the evenings to better accommodate your schedule.
It’s also important to note when choosing a program that many employers prefer EEG techs who have graduated from programs recognized by ABRET (American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists) or accredited by CAAHEP (Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs).
14. Find the Workplace That Is Right for You
Compared to some healthcare careers, neurodiagnostic technologists have more choices in their working environment. At a hospital more teamwork and patient interaction is expected, while a lab might require more independence. Finding the perfect workspace depends on your personality and what you want out of your job.
15. Changing Lives Everyday
You are passionate about a career in allied healthcare because you want to improve lives. In this job, you’ll help to identify neurological conditions like Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis, which are notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat.
EEG technology is the key to better understanding these challenging neurological diseases. As a neurodiagnostic technologist, you’ll get to be part of exciting work and research, helping people today and in the future.
If this career path sounds like something you’d love, check out the AIMS Neurodiagnostic Technologist program page. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about training and how you can earn your certificate.