Dialysis technicians typically come from a health-care background. The career is ideal for biology students, phlebotomists, medical assistants and certified nursing assistants (CNAs).
To become a dialysis technician, candidates must have a high school diploma or a GED. They also must speak fluent English and be able to make basic algebra and math calculations. Qualified candidates may receive some on-the-job training or employer-sponsored training.
How long does it take to become a dialysis technician? Dialysis technician education generally takes two semesters, or a about a year total. Most programs have a classroom segment as well as a clinical observation and laboratory segment. A typical program might have 250 classroom hours and 100 observation/laboratory hours. Many employers will follow up this education with on-the-job training, but dialysis technicians are expected to have the proper knowledge to perform their duties before hire.
Students in dialysis technician training programs will learn about the dialysis environment, patients with end stage renal failure, dialysis principles, medical equipment, vascular access and possible complications. They may also have coursework on the psychosocial characteristics of renal failure, infection control, typical precautions, procedural clinical proficiency, extracorporeal circuit and water treatments. It is helpful if the student has prior health-care experience, prior coursework in biology, medical terminology and CPR.
See our listing of the top dialysis technician schools & training programs
Note: The specific educational requirements required to become a dialysis technician may vary state-by-state.
There are three main certifying organizations for dialysis technicians:
- The Board of Nephrology Examiners Nursing and Technology (BONENT)
- The Nephrology Nursing Certification Commission (NNCC)
- The National Nephrology Certification Organization (NNCO)
Dialysis technicians must be certified at both the state and national level. When dialysis technician students are finished with their education, they are eligible to take the Certified Hemodialysis Technologist/Technician Exam (CHT) offered by BONENT. This exam has 120 multiple-choice questions and costs $210 to take.
The CHT certifies dialysis technicians at the state level, but does not certify them at the national level. To be certified at the national level, students must take the Clinical Nephrology Technology (CNT) Exam offered by NNCO. This exam has 200 questions and costs $245. Both the CHT and the CNT have a time limit of 3 hours.
Another certification test is the Certified Clinical Hemodialysis Technician (CCHT) Exam offered by the NNCC. This test costs $225 and consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. This exam also lasts 3 hours.
Many dialysis technician education programs will prepare students for all 3 of these exams.
Certification/license requirements for dialysis technicians can vary from state to state. For example, in Ohio, a technician must complete one year of patient care before sitting for any certification exam. Generally, however, licensure in order to work as a dialysis technician.