Dialysis Technician: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Educational Requirements

As a dialysis technician, you'd operate the dialysis equipment that cleans the blood of patients whose kidneys aren't working properly. Learn more about the responsibilities of these medical workers, and find out the education and certification requirements. Review the career outlook and salary potential for dialysis technicians. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Job Duties for Dialysis Technicians?

Dialysis technicians, also called nephrology technicians or hemodialysis technicians, operate the machines that perform the actions of normal functioning kidneys, according to the National Kidney Foundation (www.kidney.org). Dialysis is usually needed by patients when their kidneys are working at 10%-15% of normal function. As a dialysis technician, you'll be supervised by physicians and take care of dialysis patients before, during and after dialysis.

You may monitor patients' vitals, test blood for waste or chemicals, and run the hemodialysis machine. While positions are available with hospitals, clinics and outpatient facilities, you may also work in the private residences of patients who have dialysis at home.

What Can I Expect from this Career?

Dialysis technician job opportunities are expected to grow as the population ages and more people require dialysis. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 16% increase in medical and clinical laboratory technician occupations between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also stated that medical and clinical lab technicians made an average salary of $38,190 in 2010. However, according to Salary.com, the median salary for dialysis technicians was $32,499, as of 2011.

What Will I Need to Study?

According to the Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC), you must have a high school diploma or the equivalent to be eligible for the Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician (CCHT) certification exam (www.nncc-exam.org). Along with the high school diploma, you must have at least some classroom and clinical training.

Many community colleges offer 1-year training programs for dialysis technicians. These programs range from six weeks in length and up to 12 months, and include both coursework and supervised clinical experience. You can seek out these programs through community colleges, vocational schools and hospitals. You can also get training on the job. You'll study hemodialysis, renal failure and the primary principles of dialysis.

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