Certified hemodialysis technicians work with patients suffering from kidney disease. Also called dialysis technicians, they manage the machines that perform blood cleansing procedures on patients undergoing kidney dialysis.
According to the American Kidney Fund, there are more than 562,000 Americans on kidney dialysis. Even more staggering is that approximately 800,000 are living with kidney failure.
These statistics are why the job outlook is strong for hemodialysis technicians.
Becoming a Dialysis Technician
Become a Hemodialysis Technician Options
Hemodialysis technicians have the option to attend a training program or receive on-the-job training.
A high school diploma or GED is required for both options.
Option 1: Complete a Program (Recommended)
- Complete a state-approved dialysis technician training program.
- Achieve required licensing or certification, requirements vary by state.
Option 2: On-the-Job Training
- Find a job with an employer that will help you with hands-on training.
- Many dialysis technician jobs with on-the-job training may require you get certified within a certain time frame.
Hemodialysis Training Programs
Hemodialysis training programs are available in most community colleges and a few trade schools. A state-approved training program is recommended to become a hemodialysis technician. It is recommended you attend a program that provides both classroom education and an externship/internship for hands-on-experience.
Some jobs may not required formal education and provide on-the-job training. They often will require you get certified within a certain period of time to secure your job.
- Hemodialysis program courses typically last 8 weeks – 1 year.
- Hemodialysis program costs usually fall between $2,000 – $5,000.
You will learn the following in an accredited dialysis program:
- Renal physiology (study of kidney anatomy)
- History and principles of dialysis
- Maintenance and use of hemodialysis machines
- Vascular access to circulation
- Fluid and electrolyte balance
- Blood purification
- Infection diseases and control
- Bloodborn pathogens
- Dialyzer reprocessing
- Types of kidney disease
- Renal nutrition
- Pediatric and Peritoneal dialysis
Hemodialysis Certification Options
Hemodialysis certifications are recommended, and some jobs require them. They can be earned as part of most training programs. Examination prep and sample tests are common in most programs.
Certification is not required to work as a hemodialysis technician in most states, but it is highly recommended. The Board of Nephrology Examiners (BONENT) and Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC) both offer certification programs.
BONENT Certifications include:
- Certified Hemodialysis Technologist/Technician (CHT)
- Certified Hemodialysis Bio-Medical Technician (CHBT)
- Certified Hemodialysis Water Specialist (CHWS)
NNCC Certifications include:
- Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician (CCHT)
- Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician – Advanced (CCHT-A)
Continuing education courses are required to maintain certification.
Dialysis Technician Responsibilities
Dialysis technician responsibilities include administering dialysis treatment, working with the care team, and maintaining instruments. During the dialysis process, the patients blood will undergo a cleaning process to remove impurities. It is important for the technician to monitor the health and wellness of the patient during this process.
Daily dialysis technician duties include:
- Setting up and operating dialysis machines
- Monitoring patients during treatments
- Recording vital signs
- Administering medication
- Performing other patient care procedures
- Maintain equipment and supplies
- Ensure proper sanitation of dialysis machines and area
- Communicate with members of care team on patient updates
Dialysis Technicians Job Outlook
The job outlook for dialysis technicians is projected to grow 7% through 2032.
The demand for hemodialysis technicians is expected to increase as the population ages and the prevalence of kidney disease continues to rise.
A dialysis technician may work in a hospital, private clinic, or outpatient facilities.
Hemodialysis technicians can advance their careers by pursuing additional education and training, such as a clinical hemodialysis technician certification or a certified hemodialysis technician (CHT) credential.
With additional experience and education, hemodialysis technicians can also become supervisors, managers, or educators in the field. Nursing careers are often a next step for those that want a higher salary and more growth opportunities.
Dialysis Technician Salary
The median annual salary for a clinical dialysis technician is $57,380. The highest earning workers can make $84,000 or more.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics includes hemodialysis technicians as part of clinical laboratory technologists and technicians category. Other careers in this category include histotechnologists, blood bank technologists, and cytotechnologists.
Salaries vary depending on experience, location, and certification status. Outpatient care centers and hospitals offer the highest wages while doctors offices and diagnostic labs fall at the lower end.
What Dialysis Technicians Say
I reached out to some currently employed dialysis technicians to see what they had to say about their job. Most requested privacy, so we are using first names only.
“I work as a dialysis tech and have loved it. (For a public hospital system. Not a private company.) I have found the scope of work to be exciting. It does get tedious at times but imo it beats wiping bums and showering patients. I have been able to advance within the company to work as a CCHT, home hemodialysis tech, and peritoneal dialysis tech. It’s been a great experience for me but I’ve heard less than ideal things about the private companies.” Paula, CCHT Technician
“The job is not easy. It’s complicated, can be stressful, and takes a certain amount of fortitude to do it. It can be draining both physically and emotionally.That being said, I love my job for many different reasons. The sense of satisfaction from helping someone see their spouse for another day is amazing. The flexibility of my schedule is something I don’t know if I could ever let go of (3, 12hr days a week and the ability to pickup days to make more money). I also love the team aspect of my job. They become like family, for better or worse.” Sunny
Private vs Public Healthcare Employers
Several technicians stated that working for a public healthcare system is better than private. Some worked for private companies like Fresenius Medical Care and seemed unhappy with the work environment.
Although, Indeed and Glassdoor do not show horrible employer reviews overall. Be sure to do your homework if going for a private employer. Reach out to people who are working as a dialysis technician and see how they feel about the job.
Recommended Skills for Dialysis Technicians
- Technical Skills
Hemodialysis technicians must have a strong understanding of dialysis machines and equipment, as well as the ability to troubleshoot and perform routine maintenance. They must also be able to read and interpret medical charts and records.
- Soft Skills
Hemodialysis technicians must have excellent communication skills, as they work closely with patients, families, and other members of the care team. They must also be compassionate, patient, and able to handle stressful situations with professionalism.
- Physical and Emotional Demands
Hemodialysis technicians must be able to stand for long periods of time and lift heavy equipment. They must also be able to handle the emotional demands of working with patients who are undergoing a life-changing medical treatment.
Tips for Excelling as a Hemodialysis Technician
- Build strong patient relationships. Hemodialysis technicians can make a significant impact on their patients’ lives by building strong relationships and providing compassionate care. Taking the time to listen to patients’ concerns and providing emotional support can make a big difference in their overall well-being.
- Engage in industry news and keep up-to-date. Hemodialysis technology is constantly evolving, and it is important for hemodialysis technicians to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field. Attending conferences, reading industry publications, and participating in continuing education courses can help hemodialysis technicians stay informed and improve their skills.
- Maintain a positive demeanor. Hemodialysis technicians must maintain a positive attitude and professional demeanor, even in challenging situations. This includes being punctual, dressing professionally, and communicating effectively with patients and other members of the care team.
- Seek out professional development opportunities. Hemodialysis technicians can advance their careers by seeking out opportunities for professional development, such as pursuing additional education or training, volunteering for leadership roles, or participating in research projects.