hjl / Flickr / CC BY-NC
Have you ever wanted the power to read people’s minds? Neurodiagnostic technologists ( known as NDTs or electroneurodiagnostic technologists ) use sophisticated equipment and technology to study electrical activity and impulses in the brain.
The tests they conduct are critically important, helping doctors diagnose conditions like traumatic brain injuries, Alzheimer’s, and sleep disorders.
Whether you’ve always wanted to become a neurodiagnostic technologist – or you simply want to understand the job better – we’ve put together a comprehensive list on why electroneurodiagnostic technology is such an awesome allied health career.
1. Neurodiagnostic Techs Are at the Forefront of Medicine
The main duties of a neurodiagnostic tech
are to run EEG (electroencephalography) tests on patients. EEG tests are used to diagnose numerous disorders and diseases like epilepsy, brain tumors, strokes, sleep disorders, and more.
Small metal discs are placed on a patient’s scalp and hooked up to a machine to measure their brain’s electrical activity. When the brain’s neurons “fire”, EEG equipment tracks the pattern of brain waves via small electrical currents.
These tests are critical to neurology (which focuses on the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system). If you’re someone who enjoys complicated technology, this might be a great fit for you.
2. Detail-Oriented People Excel Here
Fondazione Santa Lucia - IRCCS / Flickr
/ CC BY-ND
NDTs take precise measurements to find the right places to attach electrodes, which ensures accurate test results. You’ll also be expected to carefully record and track brain waves during each procedure. If you’ve been called a “meticulous” person, you might be a great fit for this position.
3. EEG Technologists Are Great Listeners
There are many neurology careers, with each requiring different strengths. For NDTs, close-listening skills are a must. While interviewing the patient, you’ll need to record as much information as possible.
Doctors rely on EEG test results, but also need a clearer understanding of a patient’s symptoms and medical history. In many ways, you’re like a detective, collecting details and clues to help physicians with their diagnoses.
4. You’re a Master of Thinking on Your Feet
In your role as an NDT
, 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’ll often need to decipher results on particularly difficult cases. Gathering the right information will provide more accurate treatment.
5. It’s Where Healthcare and Tech Intersect
Discovered in 1924 by German neurologist, Hans Berger, the EEG machine was designed to record and track electric brain waves to reveal activity in the nervous system. The technology has become a lot more sophisticated over a century, with some engineers and scientists using EEG to run and control a robot.
As an expert, you’ll become adept at running tests, understanding the different types of waves, and knowing when to use different techniques on a case-by-case basis. For example, you may conduct tests on sleeping patients, long-term monitoring for epilepsy patients, or be in the surgical room monitoring electrical activity.
6. You’re Calm in the Middle of a Storm
It’s common for patients to feel overwhelmed by the wires and machinery used in EEG tests – especially if they’ve experienced health issues. One of the most essential parts of your job is explaining how the equipment works and allaying their fears. Keeping patients calm is crucial since stress and muscle tension can affect test results.
7. It’s All About Teamwork and Communication
Whether it’s in a high-stakes operation or coordinating on a particularly difficult patient case, cooperation is a critical skill for neurodiagnostic technologists. In a survey, a whopping 97% of NDTs stated that said that face-to-face interaction was one of the most important parts of the job
. An additional 79% said they were in constant contact with others.
Though NDTs usually conduct tests on their own, they need to discuss the results with nurses and doctors. These allied health professionals have a healthy balance of collaborative and independent work day-to-day.
8. There’s Never a Dull Moment
Working as a neurodiagnostic tech
is engaging, and you’ll stay mentally active as you analyze test results and discuss cases with doctors and nurses. You’ll also spend one-on-one time with patients while preparing them for procedures and occasionally running tests bedside. Though the job isn’t too physically demanding, you won’t get bored sitting behind a desk all day either.
9. Feel Confident from Day One
NDT and EEG training programs are all about getting first-hand experience before starting the job. Many classes are lab-based, and students are 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-world environment.
You’ll gain firsthand experience by working alongside professional mentors who can become valuable sources of support even after you’ve passed your certification exams.
10. Find Your Niche
One of the best parts about this career are the unique specializations that exist
. Some people choose to work in research facilities or laboratories to assist with important scientific research. Other neurodiagnostic technologists work in sleep labs where scientists conduct studies to better understand conditions like insomnia or narcolepsy
Another exciting specialization is Intraoperative Neurophysiological Monitoring (IONM). In this case, it really is brain surgery (more specifically, EEG monitoring during surgical procedures).
11. Growing Neurodiagnostic Technologist Salaries
It’s great to find a career you love, but even better when you earn high wages! Neurodiagnostic technologist pay is particularly competitive, with a median hourly income hovering around $22 per hour. That’s more than $46,000 per year (well above the average American earnings).
The future looks bright too, with the number of jobs expected to grow 18% from 2016-2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
12. It’s an Investment You Can Feel Good About
When considering healthcare careers, the money put into education needs to be balanced with the salary you’ll expect to make afterwards. While allied health careers pay less than medical careers (e.g. surgeon, physician), you’ll start working faster and without the overwhelming student debt. Less training time and more experience in an entry-level position? Yes, please!
13. EEG Training Programs Are Flexible
Neurodiagnostic technologist training programs typically last between 1-2 years, depending on the type of program. If you’re balancing your education with a full-time job or raising a family, some vocational schools offer classes in the evenings to accommodate your schedule.
When choosing a school, it’s important to remember that many employers prefer neurodiagnostic techs who have graduated from a program approved 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’s Right for You
Compared to some allied health careers, neurodiagnostic technologists quite a few choices in their working environment. At a hospital, more teamwork and patient interaction is expected. A lab might require more self-motivation. Finding the perfect workspace depends on your personality and what you want out of your job.
15. You’ll Change Lives Everyday
You’re passionate about a career in allied healthcare because you want to improve lives. As an NDT, you’ll help identify neurological conditions (like Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis) which are notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat. Electroneurodiagnostic technology is a key part in understanding these challenging neurological diseases.
As a neurodiagnostic technologist, you’ll also get to be part of groundbreaking work and research, helping people today and in the future.
Learn How to Become a Neurodiagnostic Technologist
If this career path sounds like something you’d love, check out the AIMS Electroneurodiagnostic Technologist program page
. Our experts will provide all the necessary information about training and earning your certificate.