When kidneys fail, people often need to go through hemodialysis, which removes waste from the bloodstream. But a doctor or nurse doesn't operate the dialysis machines; often, a dialysis technician does. These specialized staff members set up the units, prep the patients and initiate treatments.
In 2012, health technicians, including dialysis techs, earned an average of $44,400 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $67,160, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $26,660 annually. While these figures might lead to assumptions about entry-level salaries, they don’t account for specialty. Explore Medical Careers, an online resource for aspiring medical professionals, provides more-precise earnings. Starting salaries are around $25,000 to $30,000 a year.
Prerequisites for becoming a dialysis technician are minimal. According to the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations, employers seek candidates with professional certification as a dialysis technician. Check with your local community college or vocational school for a program near you. Studies include principles of hemodialysis, renal physiology, renal failure pathology and basic body chemistry. Length varies by program, but training will likely take around two months to complete -- four weeks of classwork and four weeks of clinical training.
The Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology offers professional certification for dialysis technicians. Earning your certified hemodialysis technologist/technician designation demonstrates your proficiency in skills and knowledge of hemodialysis and could improve your employability. You’ll need to complete a dialysis training program and have at least one year of experience in patient care, however.
The BLS expects employment for medical techs to grow by 15 percent through 2020. This is on par with the 14-percent growth rate it predicts for all U.S. occupations. Although job growth is keeping pace with the nation, the 15-percent rate equates to the creation of almost 24,000 new jobs in this small field. Professionals who transfer or retire create additional openings for entry-level techs.