Everything You Need to Know About Neurodiagnostic Tech Salary and Jobs
When you think about career choices are brain waves on your mind? If you love technology and the inner-workings of the human brain, a career in neurodiagnostic technology might be your future path.
In this fascinating career, neurodiagnostic technologists are at the forefront of contemporary medicine, working with the latest diagnostic equipment to read and study the brain, as well as nervous system activity.
What Do Neurodiagnostic and EEG Techs Do?
Using diagnostic equipment, neurodiagnostic techs (also known as NDTs or END techs) record and study the electrical activity in the brain and the nervous system in order to diagnose neurological issues.
Neurological disorders include Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, migraines, brain tumors, head trauma, and other conditions. A new study estimates that neurological conditions cost Americans nearly $800 billion each year.
With that kind of price tag, it’s no wonder there’s a need for specialists in neurodiagnostic technology. An NDT will work with patients to conduct testing, record electrical activity with diagnostic equipment, and read the test results; the doctor or neurologist will then use the results to determine a diagnosis.
EEG TECHNOLOGIST AND NEURODIAGNOSTIC TECHNOLOGIST: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
You might hear the term EEG technologist alongside neurodiagnostic technologist. Is there a difference between these two careers?
An EEG (short for electroencephalogram) is a specific tool within the field of neurodiagnostic technology. If you’ve ever seen someone in a movie with small electrodes attached to their head, then you’ve probably seen what an EEG test looks like. EEG techs are neurodiagnostic technologists who specialize in this area, administering EEG tests on patients to record their brain waves. The tests can then be used to diagnose brain damage and disorders.
Many training programs in neurodiagnostic technology now prepare students to work in a range of areas, offering opportunities to specialize in EEGs, sleep testing, intraoperative neuromonitoring, and more.
How Do You Become a Neurodiagnostic Technologist?
Becoming a neurodiagnostic technologist requires the successful completion of a neurodiagnostic training program. NDT and EEG programs typically take anywhere from 12 to 24 months to complete.
A good training program will include both classroom instruction and hands-on training in a clinical lab setting. Make sure the program you choose is recognized or accredited. Some allied health schools offer the option of day or evening classes for learners trying to accommodate training around other commitments. Evening programs typically take longer to complete.
Most curriculums will include studies in anatomy and physiology, neurodiagnostic recording techniques, clinical diagnostics, patient safety and instrumentation. EEG classes and classes in other areas of specialization will be part of a good neurodiagnostic technology program. You might study other forms of testing like evoked potential (EP), long term monitoring (LTM), polysomnography (PSG), or nerve conduction studies (NCS).
After completing a recognized or accredited training program, graduates will be able to take certification exams offered through ABRET.
WHAT’S A TYPICAL NEURODIAGNOSTIC TECHNOLOGIST SALARY?
PayScale gives the median annual neurodiagnostic technologist salary as $46,404. That number is well above the national median of $36,200, and much higher than the median for healthcare support positions at $27,000.
But your earnings can rise quickly as an NDT. While new technologists usually begin earning just under $40,000, pay quickly climbs to over $50,000 with five years of experience. Obtaining certification for additional neurodiagnostic tests is also associated with higher salaries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health technologists and technicians – the category NDTs and EEG techs fall into – earn an average of $45,730 per year, with that salary liable to increase to over $70,000 depending on location, workplace and seniority.
DOES AN EEG TECHNOLOGIST SALARY STACK UP?
Neurodiagnostic technologists specializing in EEGs earn more – median wages were a comfortable $57,448. That rate can go up to over $80,000, depending on where you work.
Generally, most EEG techs earn between $45,000 and $60,000, with entry-level salaries starting at just under $45,000. That pay difference may make EEG specialization an appealing choice for you.
Outlook for Neurodiagnostic Technologist Jobs
A great starting salary won’t make a difference if you can’t find a job after graduation. So what’s the career outlook for this occupation?
It’s good, and it’s getting better. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t separate data for NDTs and EEG techs, the employment within all healthcare occupations has been projected to grow 19% between 2014 and 2024, faster than the national average and resulting in about 2.3 million new jobs.
With an aging population, the need for specialists who can test for and diagnose conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia will be especially prevalent.
Neurodiagnostic Technologists will become even more crucial as our understanding of neurological conditions and disabilities improve and if the number of Americans able to access health insurance continues to grow. EEGs and EP testing is also being used more frequently in surgery, meaning that demand for qualified NDTs is growing.
Dr. Chandrashekar Narechania, the program director for the AIMS Education Neurodiagnostic Technologist program, stated that this specialization is an excellent area for candidates to stand out in. “Right now the demand for qualified techs outweighs the supply. Most healthcare facilities prefer to hire END techs that have formal training, but there are very few training programs available. That means less competition for those who go into this field.”
What’s Great About Being a Neurodiagnostic Tech?
You’ve checked out the educational requirements and your future prospects for jobs and salary, but how do you know if this is the right career choice for you? If you’re fascinated by technology and the brain, there’s a lot to learn in this career.
NDTs study how to conduct testing for a huge range of conditions. We’ve all known people who have been affected by migraines, sleep disorders, dementia or seizures. As an NDT, the tests you’ll perform can include the following:
- EEG: Testing brain activity to diagnose epilepsy, brain trauma, and other neurological symptoms.
- Intraoperative Neuromonitoring (IONM): Monitoring during surgery to reduce the possibility of paralysis or stroke.
- Polysomnograms (PSG): Testing during sleep for sleep quality and disorders
- Evoked Potentials (EP): Recording brain activity in response to nerve stimulation, commonly performed during spinal surgery.
- Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS): Recording nerve response time for patients experiencing numbness, tingling, or muscle pain.
There’s the possibility of specializing in any of these areas, or working in a specialized facility, such as a sleep disorder clinic or a nursing home, depending on where your interests lie.
WHERE DO NEURODIAGNOSTIC TECHS WORK?
Other than polysomnographers, most neurodiagnostic techs enjoy regular daytime working hours. NDTs can be found in hospitals, clinics, outpatient care centers, and doctors’ offices. At a large hospital, you might be part of a large unit of technologists, while in a quieter facility, you may be part of a small team that works closely together.
If you’re already working in healthcare, ASET – The Neurodiagnostic Society recommends that prospective career changers visit a local neurodiagnostic lab to shadow a working tech before enrolling in an NDT training program.
The Skills You Need As an Neurodiagnostic Tech
What makes someone a great EEG tech or NDT? First of all, people skills are critical. As a technologist, you’ll be working directly with patients, preparing them for testing and running them through the procedures, performing tests, and analyzing the results.
A typical EEG test takes 90 minutes, and the patient’s main responsibility is to sit still and remain calm, so having a calm demeanor helps. For other tests, you may be monitoring a patient even longer – a polysomnogram lasts eight hours for an overnight sleep study.
As an NDT, you’ll work with patients from all walks of life facing a variety of health concerns, from migraines to MS to dementia. You’ll see patients with a wide range of physical and intellectual abilities, so being able to adapt to all of these is critical.
Outside of working with patients, you’ll work with neurologists, nurses, and other allied health professionals. As a technologist, maintaining the equipment will also be among your duties in most workplaces, so an affinity for technology will serve you well.
Ready to Start a Career in Neurodiagnostic Technology?
Are you ready to delve deep into the intricacies of the human brain and work with patients and technology to help diagnose crucial neurological health issues? Studying to be a neurodiagnostic technologist could be the right next step for you.