Education and Training: High school plus training
Salary: Median—$44,621 per year
Employment Outlook: Fair
Definition and Nature of the Work
Electroneurodiagnostic (END) technology enables health care professionals to record and study the electrical activity of the brain and nervous system. END technologists use a variety of techniques and instruments to record electrical activity arising from a patient's brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and other parts of the nervous system. END technologists work with specially trained physicians who interpret the data and determine treatment based on the information. Data gathered with END technology are used for medical research and to diagnose health problems such as brain tumors, strokes, epilepsy, sleep disorders, and Alzheimer's disease.
END technologists maintain END equipment, obtain medical histories, prepare patients for procedures, record patients' electric potentials, and calculate results. A major part of the job is interacting with patients undergoing END procedures.
END technologists apply electrodes to a patient's head. They must choose the most appropriate combination of instrument controls and electrodes to receive accurate data. Many END technologists work in operating rooms. Therefore, they must also understand the effects of anesthesia on a patient's responses.
END technologists may perform a variety of common procedures in the course of their work. The electroencephalogram (EEG) is a recording of the ongoing activity in the brain. It is the most well-known END procedure. In fact, many END departments still carry the title "EEG Lab."
Another common END procedure is the evoked potential (EP) test. This test records electrical activity in the nervous system that occurs in response to an outside stimulus. END technologists also evaluate sleep disorders with the polysomnogram (PSG) test.
Senior END technologists may have supervisory duties in addition to their regular jobs. They may manage an END lab, keep records, set work schedules, train other END technologists, and schedule patients' appointments. END technologists must have above-average intelligence, the desire to learn, the ability to manipulate the equipment, and a sympathetic personality.
Education and Training Requirements
Generally, END technologists have a high school diploma and many have post-secondary training in the field. Many current END technologists learned their skills while on the job. The trend, however, is hiring candidates with some formal training. High school students interested in the field should study biology, anatomy, mathematics, and English.
Many two-year colleges, hospitals, and vocational schools offer training in END technology. Interested students should seek out programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Another professional group, the American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists, awards the credentials "registered EEG technologist" and "registered evoked response technologist" to qualified applicants.
Getting the Job
Local hospitals are the best source of information for training and employment opportunities. High school students interested in END technology should work as hospital volunteers to become familiar with hospital procedures.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Employment of END technologists is expected to grow slower than the average through the year 2010. New technologies and cross-trained employees will limit employment growth.
An experienced END technologist can work toward a position managing a hospital or clinic's END department as chief technologist. Typically, a chief technologist reports directly to a physician.
END technologists work in hospitals, neurology clinics, and psychiatric facilities. Their surroundings are clean and well lighted. Some technologists work in specific designated rooms, whereas others move equipment to perform tests in patients' rooms. Technologists work standard forty-hour work-weeks and spend about half of their time on their feet. Technologists working in a hospital may be on call during evenings, weekends, and holidays.
Because END technologists often work with critically ill patients, they need great tact and emotional strength. The job also may require physical strength in helping to move patients who are unable to move on their own.
Where to Go for More Information
American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists
1904 Croydon Dr.
Springfield, IL 62703
EEG and Clinical Neuroscience Society (ECNS)
Wayne State University
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences
2751 E. Jefferson
Detroit, MI 48207
Earnings and Benefits
Salaries vary according to an END technologist's education and experience. Data collected from END laboratories in Spring 2003 showed the average annual salary for all END technologists across the United States was $44,621.