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Career as Electroencephalogram (EEG) Technologist

Updated on January 8, 2013

Electroencephalogram (EEG) Technologist

If you are interested to take up a job in the field of neuroscience but aren’t sure if more schooling is the right path for you, consider a career as Electroencephalogram (EEG) Technologist at hospitals or in university research labs. As an EEG Technologist you will help doctors or scientists to perform major portion of EEG procedures. It’s a job where you constantly interact with people/patients from diverse group and provide personnel service. Beyond these basic duties, you will have ample opportunities to learn about various psychiatric or neurological diseases and use of more sophisticated techniques and approaches which all will advance your career in the neuroscience field.

How neuroscience is related to EEG technology

The human brain, weighing around 1.4 kilogram, is the most complex organ of the body. It produces and controls each and every thought, action, memory, feeling, emotion, intelligence, behavior and experience. In fact, it is an exquisitely sensitive instrument capable of registering the slightest nuance of our environment. The unit of brain is called a neuron or nerve cell and there are one hundred billion nerve cells in human brain. The nerve cells make millions of connections. The communication between nerve cells occurs through two main types of signals: electrical and chemical.

The study of nerve cells is called Neuroscience. Neuroelectrophysiology is a branch of neuroscience devoted to test the function of central and peripheral nervous system by measuring the electrical activity of neurons. Neuroelectrophysiology scientists and technologists adopt very sensitive electrical equipment called Electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure and record brain electrical activity in patients and experimental animals. The EEG test helps in diagnosing the diseases such as epilepsy, injuries and abnormalities/dysfunction of the nervous system.

What is an EEG procedure?

EEG test is a safe and painless procedure, and usually takes around 60 to 90 minutes. The procedure begins with the technician measuring the patient’s head circumference, followed by locating and marking few specific spots on the scalp. Later, around 17 to 21 small, flat, metal discs (electrodes) are attached to the scalp using a special adhesive. The electrodes are connected to the EEG machine via wires. The EEG machine amplifies the electrical signals obtained from the brain cell, which in turn is collected with a computer interface. EEG test is also performed in experimental animals to study brain dysfunction and affect of drugs on brain functions.


The electrical activity registered by EEG machine appears in ‘wave-like’ nature called brain wave pattern. Four types of brain wave patterns are commonly measured. They are Alpha, Beta, Theta and Delta. The unit of measurement is cycles or pulses per second in Hertz scale.

Abnormal Brain Waves
  • If one side of the brain wave pattern is different from the other, it indicates problem in one side of the brain.
  • In medical cases such as epilepsy, brain tumor, infection or stroke, the EEG shows sudden bursts of electrical activity (spikes) in that area of the brain.
  • If there is no EEG signals, characterized by a “flat” or a “straight line” it indicates brain function is very low or has stopped, as seen in coma patients.

Brain waves
Cycles/sec
State of Brain
Beta
13 to 60
Consciously alert or agitated state
Alpha
7 to 13
Aware state, during physical and mental relaxation
Theta
4 to 7
State of somnolence with reduced consciousness

Educational requirements for EEG Technician/Technologist

The minimum educational requirement to become EEG technician is a high school diploma and an accredited EEG Technician Certification. The diploma course takes one to two years to complete and covers subjects such as neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, neuropathology, basic physics, electronics and basic computer courses. In U.S., several community colleges offer EEG technician programs.

What you’ll do as an EEG Technologist

In hospitals, as an EEG Technician, you will be assisting doctors to examine and record EEG in specialized facilities such as epilepsy and schizophrenia centers. You will also be responsible to perform multiple tasks such as to collect patient’s information; place electrodes on patients scalp; record brain electrical activity and prepare test results to doctors. Also, you are expected to work in day and night shifts and sometimes during weekends. Sometime you may have to work standing for few hours, and also you are expected to move the equipments between bedside wards and intensive care units. Additionally, you have to work closely with psychiatric and neurological patients. Other jobs involve preparing reagents, buffers and equipment maintenance.

Employers

In addition to health care industries, university research labs and pharmaceutical industries are potential employers looking for EEG technicians. At universities and industries you will be hired as Electrophysiology Technician. The designation depends on educational background and number of years of experience in the field.

Common Names: Neuroelectrophysiology Technologist, Electrophysiologist or Electrophysiology Technologist, EEG Specialist, Electroneurodiagnostic technologists.

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