How to Become a Dialysis Technician
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- Dialysis technicians monitor hemodialysis procedures.
- Students must possess a high school diploma or GED certificate to become a dialysis technician.
- Vocational schools offer dialysis technician training in 1-2 years.
- Dialysis technicians may need to take a nationally certified exam.
- Employers may prefer candidates with nursing experience.
According to the American Association of Kidney Patients, more than 40 million people in the United States have kidney disease, and 700,000 individuals need dialysis or kidney transplants. Dialysis technicians, also called hemodialysis technicians treat people who suffer from end-stage renal disease.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), careers for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians will remain in demand for the next decade as the aging population continues to increase. The BLS projects that 25,900 clinical laboratory technologist jobs will open every year from 2020-2030.
Becoming a dialysis technician only requires a high school diploma or GED certificate. Vocational schools often train future dialysis technicians in as little as one year. Find out more about the requirements to be a dialysis technician and how much they can earn on the job.
Steps to Become a Dialysis Technician
- Earn a high school diploma or GED certificate.
- Complete dialysis technician training at a state-approved school.
- Earn a license or national certification.
- Gain dialysis technician training through internships or practicums.
- Secure a job as a dialysis technician.
Types of Dialysis Technicians
Dialysis clinics and hospitals employ two types of technicians to help patients in the dialysis process: biomedical nephrology technicians (BNTs) and certified clinical nephrology technicians (CCNTs). BNTs handle the maintenance and repairs of dialysis equipment. These workers do not work one-on-one with patients and often travel between facilities.
CCNTs monitor dialysis treatments and watch over patients. They often work with the same patient three times a week. Their duties may include mixing dialysate and documenting a patient's health information.
Jobs for dialysis technicians vary based on education, experience, and certification. A dialysis technician's level of responsibility and scope of practice may differ slightly depending on where they are employed. Some dialysis technicians also have experience as certified nursing assistants (CNAs).
Dialysis technicians can also become certified hemodialysis technicians (CHTs) and patient care dialysis technicians. They may earn certification through the Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology (BONENT).
What Is a Dialysis Technician?
A dialysis technician works in a clinic or hospital under the direction of kidney doctors and nurses.
What Does a Dialysis Technician Do?
Dialysis removes the metabolic waste, salt, and extra water accumulating in the body —a function normally performed by healthy kidneys. Patients can undergo dialysis treatments multiple times a week until they get a kidney transplant.
Dialysis technicians typically provide direct patient care. They answer questions and provide information about the procedure. The job also requires setting up and breaking down the hemodialysis machine. While a patient receives dialysis, they record medical information and alert supervising nurses of unusual changes.
Dialysis Technician Responsibilities
- Administer dialysis treatments and monitor the patient and equipment
- Complete patient evaluations, including taking vitals
- Set up and disassemble the dialysis blood system
- Mix bicarbonate or acid
- Take lab specimens
- Follow policies to record machine readings
- Provide support and educate patients about the procedure
- Communicate with technicians, nurses, dietitians, and doctors
Requirements to Become a Dialysis Technician
Dialysis technicians benefit from having a passion for helping patients. Becoming a dialysis technician only requires a high school diploma or the equivalent. Sometimes, dialysis technicians can bypass high school requirements to gain work experience and national certification.
Specific requirements vary by state and employer. Hospitals and clinics may require dialysis technicians to have healthcare experience or certification as BNTs, CCNTs, or CHTs. Some employers may require these professionals to have phlebotomy certification.
Employers may also want candidates who previously worked as certified nursing assistants, certified nurse technicians, emergency medical technicians, or medical assistants.
Certification Process for Dialysis Technician
Not every state requires dialysis technicians to hold certification or to become licensed. However, becoming a certified dialysis technician shows employers that you have completed an approved hemodialysis training program and possess supervised clinical experience.
The number of clinical hours required to become certified depends on the certification exam's agency. Some employers hire non-certified dialysis technicians who need to gain clinical experience. However, all dialysis technicians must complete a state-approved program.
The Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission, which administers the certified clinical hemodialysis technician (CCHT) exam, recommends test-takers have at least six months of work experience or 1,000 clinical hours.
BONENT provides certifications for hemodialysis technicians and biomedical technicians. Eligible applicants need a high school diploma or GED certificate and at least six months of experience working in either dialysis biomedical or nephrology patient care. Applicants can apply with no high school diploma or GED certificate if they have at least four years of work experience.
Dialysis Technician Salary and Job Demand
Some 335,500 clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, including dialysis technicians worked in the United States in 2020, according to the BLS. The organization projects jobs for clinical laboratory technologists and technicians will grow by 11% from 2020-2030. The BLS projects positions for health technologists and technicians will increase by 9% during the same timeframe.
Top 5 Paid States
According to the BLS, dialysis technicians made a median annual wage of $54,180 in May 2020. Wages for dialysis technicians vary by experience, with the bottom 10% earning less than $31,450 and the highest 10 percent earning more than $83,700 in May 2020.
A dialysis technician's location also impacts their pay. According to the BLS, dialysis technicians in Alaska earned the most in May 2020. They made an annual average wage of $69,390. Other top-paying states for dialysis technicians include Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and Oregon.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Dialysis Technician
Is it hard to be a dialysis technician?
It can be. Dialysis technicians have a physically demanding job. They work on their feet, sometimes for 12 hours or more. They monitor the dialysis process, but also provide emotional support for patients.
The job requires being comfortable working with blood and needles and performing tasks to provide a safe and hygienic environment. Working as a dialysis technician requires helping chronically ill patients, which can be emotionally and physically draining.
How much is dialysis technician training?
Vocational schools, community colleges, and technical schools offer dialysis technician training. Tuition could cost anywhere between $2,100-$5,000. Students may pay additional fees for books, uniforms, and remote learning. Some programs offer financial aid.
How long does it take to become a dialysis technician?
Dialysis technicians earn a certificate or associate degree, which can take between 12-24 months. It may take students additional time to complete the clinical experience requirements for certification and employment.
Feature Image: Saengsuriya Kanhajorn / EyeEm / Getty Images