By Ray Marden, CBET, CHTM
I scrolled through my connections on LinkedIn recently to peruse the various certifications that leaders in the HTM field hold. I encountered many familiar acronyms such as CBET, CHTM, CRES and CCE, and some less common ones like CLRT, CPHQ, PMP, CHOP, HCISPP, to name a few. I learned quite a bit more about my colleagues along the way too. While some certifications are required for some jobs, HTM employs lots of people without certifications as well. Throughout my career, I’ve noticed that there are almost as many different perspectives on certifications as there are certifications.
I’ve encountered widely differing opinions amongst BMETs and managers regarding the value of certifications. I get it, certifications don’t always prove proficiency in a job, but they almost always benefit the certificant and the employer. At the very least, they demonstrate that a person has a basic level of knowledge and experience on a given subject. They also give credibility while working with more regulated clinical staff that all have to keep up licenses and certs to keep practicing.
Perhaps just as importantly, at the personal career growth level, certifications are a clear way to communicate to your employer and colleagues that you are a professional and taking the initiative to custom build your career. They also demonstrate your interests and strengths. Preparing for them keeps your skills sharp. Recertification requirements keep you engaged and in touch with the industry. If that isn’t enough reasons, many institutions pay certified staff more or require it for advancement.
When you think of HTM and certifications, AAMI certifications likely come to mind. And if you think that you have to have tons of experience to get a certificate from them, check out the new-ish Certified Associate of Biomedical Technology (CABT). It has very minimal requirements but shows employers that you’ve started your path.
The next step, which is becoming required for many senior HTM jobs, is the Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET). This has work history requirements and a rather difficult test to pass.
CBETs who want to get into the business and management side of HTM should start working toward the Certified Healthcare Technology Manager (CHTM). This has work history requirements and a test that will strain your administrative and business skills. I feel like the test and materials are very much relative to the day-to-day work of modern HTM.
Technicians hoping to take an imaging role can obtain a Certified Radiation Equipment Specialist (CRES) from AAMI as well.
AAMI/ACI certifications are the only officially recognized certifications within HTM, but that doesn’t have to hold back your alphabet soup. From looking at my connections, it quite literally pays to keep going.
Let’s go over some out of industry certifications and some industry trends and see how they can help you and your employer.
In modern health care, there’s an increasing demand for HTM project managers. The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, when held by a BMET, is an amazing asset for an HTM team. The PMP certification has extensive work history validation and is a fairly involved process.
Professional project management is an entire culture with its own language. Biomed or HTM shops are often involved in large, expensive and highly complex projects. Having someone on the HTM team that speaks PM language is becoming more and more crucial, especially at the enterprise level.
Like to participate in projects, but as a subject matter expert vs. a manager? You have choices! Building and securing the IoMT has created demand for new skills within the HTM department. Networking and cybersecurity skills are at a premium in every shop and again, especially at the enterprise level.
Some of my connections are carrying one or more of the CompTia certifications such as Security+ or Network+. I’m sure that their skills are being appreciated.
If you want to take your career into virtually any multi-disciplinary direction, certifications are a great way to pave that path.
There are certifications for quality management professionals such as the Certified Professional of Healthcare Quality (CPHQ). This certification demonstrates that you understand quality culture and methods for demonstrating and documenting continuous improvement. This is becoming more critical as more HTM shops are becoming ISO 13485 certified, which promotes a similar quality culture as the CPHQ. They are both quality management systems. Since all services are required to be part of a continuous improvement process, you can bet that your department will be part of the QMS sooner or later. Having a person in the shop who speaks QMS language could become invaluable.
There are certifications that crossover with HTM – facilities (CHFM), operations (CHOP) and supply chain (CPSM).
Regardless of where you are on your career path, certifications are one of the best ways to demonstrate qualification for a position or promotion. There are study groups available for most of the exams and many have excellent study materials and practice tests.
Check with your employer about reimbursements, as many institutions and independent servicers repay associated costs for testing and licensing. If they won’t, do it yourself, you are worth the investment.
From the start, make sure you teach new employees not only about the job, but also about the company culture and how they can contribute to and thrive in it.
Your social profiles are an added resource that employers can reference when hiring and even serve as an extension to your resume.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to impress your boss without looking like a brown-nose in front of your co-workers (because nobody likes “that guy”).
Creating a healthy work-life balance is a real struggle for many HTM professionals, and a linear approach to balance won’t get you far in modern health care.
What considerations would lead someone to choose to become a healthcare technology management (HTM) professional?
I’ve written a lot about the important role LinkedIn can play in the career search. But recently, I’ve learned that TikTok is becoming a key part of that process.
If you are just starting out in the HTM field, you may feel obscure. Perhaps you think that you don’t have much to offer. That’s ok. The more people you interact with in this industry, the easier it will be to find your fit.
Mentorships always have been an important aspect of getting a foot in the door and climbing the career ladder. But many people from underserved communities don’t have the connections often needed to find someone to help them along.
Finding the right internship can be a challenging part of getting started in any business, and healthcare technology management (HTM) is no exception.
Will you fit in with the culture of the company you’re interviewing with? That has been a topic of conversation for quite some time, but as COVID-19 upended the workplace and brought remote work to the forefront, the definition of “culture fit” has been upended too.