How to Become a Dialysis Technician

Kidneys. They're important.

Kidneys filter toxins and other harmful substances from your body, an essential function for clean living. Unfortunately, there are times when these vital organs stop working properly, and people need dialysis.

And that’s when dialysis technicians to pick up the slack. Let’s take a look at what they do and how you can become one.

What Dialysis Technicians Do

You may have heard of dialysis technicians before, either by name or by the work they perform. These trained professionals also go by hemodialysis techs or nephrology technicians. That said, the healthcare duties they perform are all the same.

Dialysis technicians are trained to maintain, operate, and clean all equipment used during a dialysis session. In case you are not familiar, during these sessions, blood is siphoned from patients into a dialysis machine. Once inside, the blood is cleaned before being pumped back into the patient.

The entire live-saving process is referred to as renal replacement therapy. Dialysis techs are responsible for preparing patients for the procedure. This includes providing anesthesia, hooking patients up to the machine, and monitoring their vital signs.

Due to the reliance on dialysis machines, a dialysis tech find work wherever the machines can be used safely. This versatility means dialysis techs often work in a variety of places. Most common locations are clinics, hospitals, labs, or even in a patient’s home.

How to Go from Student to Dialysis Tech

After earning a high-school diploma or GED, the first step to become a dialysis technician is to choose a college. Dialysis techs can earn their certification via a vocational, technical, or community college.

Once enrolled, students will undergo an intensive 18-month program. Course will go over the following topics.

  • Renal Disease
  • Operating a Dialysis Machine
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Blood Procedures
  • Body Chemistry

From there, med students will need to gain clinical experience. To do so, students can enter into internships or other local medical programs. Once accepted, med students work under supervision, typically by a doctor or nurse.

The length of this leg of the journey will vary based on the type of certification students want to earn. Options include the following:

  • Certification for Clinical Hemodialysis Technician, or CCHT
  • Hemodialysis Technician Certification or CHT
  • Clinical Nephrology Technology or CCNT

Each of these certifications requires different criteria. For example, the CCHT requires at least 3,000 hours of clinical experience before attempting to take the test. Other noteworthy differences include duration of time each certificate lasts. CCHT needs to be renewed every three years, whereas the other two are every 4-years.

On average, dialysis techs make over $40,000 a year. With the number of patients in need of dialysis on the rise, this occupation is likely to remain in high-demand for years to come.