Neurodiagnostic Technologist Salaries: What You Should Know
Reviewed by Dr. Chandrashekhar Narechania, MD, CSA, CORST, R. EEG T.
February 21, 2023
If you love technology and the inner-workings of the human brain, a career in neurodiagnostic technology might be a great fit.
In this fascinating allied health career, neurodiagnostic technologists (also known as NDTs and EEGs) are on the cutting edge of medicine, working with the latest equipment to study activity in the brain and nervous system.
What Do Neurodiagnostic and EEG Techs Do?
Neurodiagnostic technologists record and study electrical activity in the brain and the nervous system to help doctors diagnose neurological issues. These can include – but aren’t limited to – Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, migraines, brain tumors, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
What Is a Neurodiagnostic Technologist?
A neurodiagnostic technologist is someone who conducts tests that help diagnose problems within the brain or nervous system. They record electrical activity going on inside the brain and throughout the body using state-of-the-art digital medical diagnostic equipment, read the test results, and share their findings with a doctor or neurologist.
The data gathered from these tests performed by a neurodiagnostic technologist can help doctors determine a diagnosis for conditions such as sleep disorders, epilepsy, strokes, seizure disorders, degenerative brain disease, and others.
EEG and NDT Techs: What’s the Difference?
An EEG (short for electroencephalogram) is a specific tool in the field of neurodiagnostic technology. You’ve probably seen a character in a movie with small electrodes attached to their head. These specific tests are used to diagnose brain damage and disorders.
Many training programs in neurodiagnostic technology prepare students to work in a range of areas, including EEGs, sleep testing, and intraoperative neuromonitoring.
How to Become a Neurodiagnostic Technologist
NDTs and EEGs must complete neurodiagnostic training programs, which typically take under 2 years to complete.
Accredited training programs include classroom instruction and hands-on training in the form of an internship.
You’ll study anatomy, physiology, neurodiagnostic recording techniques, clinical diagnostics, patient safety, and instrumentation. EEG classes and other areas of specialization are part of a good neurodiagnostic technology program. You may also 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 are eligible to take certification exams offered through ABRET.
What Is the Average Neurodiagnostic Technologist Salary?
The average neurodiagnostic technologist salary in the United States is between $56,000 and $63,000 a year. Those on the lower end make roughly $31,000 a year, while those on the higher end can make around $100,000.
Location makes a difference in possible salary amounts. States that offer the highest neurodiagnostic technologist salaries include:
- California: NDTs can make about $64,750 a year or $31.13 an hour. The highest-paying city is Carmichael, CA, where an NDT can make $68,558 a year.
- Oregon: The average salary in this state is $64,105, with Springfield, OR, offering $64,972 a year.
- Nevada: This state offers $63,851 a year on average.
- Alaska: NDTs can expect to earn about $62,931 a year here.
- Washington: In this state, an NDT salary is about $62,541.
Other high-paying cities include Newark, NJ, where the average neurodiagnostic technologist salary is $61,079, and Phoenix, AZ, where $59,880 is the expected yearly salary. Some of the highest-paying companies include UofL Hospital in Louisville, KY, which pays $90,455 a year, and Hca Hospital Services of San Diego, which pays $86,254 per year.
Earnings can rise quickly as an NDT builds their skills. While they may start out on the lower end, NDTs can experience a quick pay climb to over $50,000 with five years of experience. Higher salaries are also possible with certification for additional neurodiagnostic tests.
What Is the Average EEG Tech Salary?
Similar to NDT salaries, average EEG tech salaries are upward of $50,000 a year. That rate can rise to more than $80,000, depending on experience and where you work.
Job Outlook for Neurodiagnostic Technologists
A great starting salary won’t make a difference if you can’t find a job after graduation. But in this sector, it’s only getting better each year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment for all allied health careers is projected to grow 14% between 2018 and 2028. This is faster than the national average.
Why Are NDTs and EEGs Important?
With a rapidly aging population, the need for specialists to test for conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia will be especially prevalent. EEGs and EPs are also being used more frequently before and during surgery, increasing demand for qualified NDTs.
Dr. Chandrashekar Narechania states that, “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.”
The Different Types of NDT Tests
We’ve all known people who have been affected by migraines, sleep disorders, dementia or seizures. As an NDT, the tests you can perform may include:
- EEG: Testing brain activity to diagnose epilepsy, brain trauma, and other neurological symptoms.
- Intraoperative Neuromonitoring (IONM): Monitoring during surgery to reduce the risk of paralysis or stroke.
- Polysomnograms (PSG): Testing for sleep quality and disorders
- Evoked Potentials (EP): Recording brain activity in response to nerve stimulation. This is commonly performed during spinal surgery.
- Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS): Recording nerve response time for patients experiencing numbness, tingling, or muscle pain.
There’s a possibility to specialize in any of these areas, or work in specialized facilities like sleep disorder clinics and nursing homes. It all depends on where your interests lie.
Where Do Neurodiagnostic Techs Work?
Other than polysomnographers (who work at sleep research centers), most NDTs enjoy regular daytime working hours at hospitals, clinics, outpatient care centers, and private practices. 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.
What Skills Do Neurodiagnostic Techs Need?
People skills are critical as techs work directly with patients with a variety of physical and intellectual abilities. You’ll also work with patients from all walks of life who are facing a wide range of issues like migraines, MS, and dementia. so being adaptive is crucial.
A typical EEG test takes 90 minutes, and the patient must 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. From preparing them for testing, running them through the procedures, performing tests, and analyzing the results, this is a patient-facing career.
Outside of working with patients, you’ll work with neurologists, nurses, and other allied health professionals. As an NDT, you’ll be expected to keep instruments in good working order, so having an affinity for technology will serve you well.
Start Your Career in Neurodiagnostic Technology Today
Ready to dive into the intricacies of the human brain? Excited to help physicians diagnose crucial neurological health issues? Studying to be a neurodiagnostic technologist could be the right next step for you.
If you’re in the New Jersey area, be sure to check out our NDT training program!