Well, this is a question we get more and more often! Let's get into the details of how to become a laser tech on today's blog post with Dr. Jason Rountree, the founder of Laser Therapy Institute and a Certified Medical Laser Safety Officer.
LTI: Inquiring minds want to know, what is involved in becoming a laser tech?
Dr. Rountree: We need to define what a laser tech is first! A laser technician in healthcare is an individual who uses lasers under the supervision of a licensed health care provider. Generally, laser techs do not need a formal license to do this, although there is some variation from state to state.
LTI: This is probably a good place to say we're not giving out legal or health advice!
Dr. Rountree: Yes absolutely. You need to check with your state health boards and possibly your legal counsel as well. And, the type of laser you're using matters too. A Class 3b therapeutic laser requires very little training or oversight, while Class 4 cosmetic and surgical lasers obviously are a lot different!
LTI: Sounds like the field is pretty broad. Can we focus on therapy lasers?
Dr. Rountree: Sure, after all, that is what LTI is all about! Laser therapy is a medical, dental, or veterinary procedure where safe, non-destructive light is used to stimulate the biological healing processes in the body. This is now called photobiomodulation. Laser technicians can use these photobiomodulation devices on patients to reduce pain, improve circulation, and speed up tissue repair. It's totally safe for the patient and the tech. Sometimes protective eyewear is needed, but there is no harmful radiation or risk of burns when operated correctly.
LTI: How do you become a laser tech? Specifically for laser therapy?
Dr. Rountree: Ok, there are a few steps. First, you need to find someone to work under. Because you're a tech, you need a licensed healthcare provider to write the prescription for laser treatment. In some cases, they will also need to supervise you doing the treatments. In most states, they just need to be in the same facility, not necessarily leaning over your shoulder.
Second, you'll need training on the laser equipment. Safe operation of a therapy laser is very simple, but you need to know how to navigate the software, how to use and clean the hardware, and the safety protocols with the device.
Third, you need to understand how your device works to accomplish the goals for the treatment. This includes knowing laser dosing, energy calculations, treatment technique, and documentation basics.
LTI: How long does it take to become a laser tech?
Dr. Rountree: The fastest and easiest way is to look for a job opening in a clinic that already performs laser therapy. In a lot of cases, the training will be done on the job over two to six weeks! Sometimes, the device manufacturer will have online courses for laser therapy too. Keep your eyes open for treatment or therapy assistants in chiropractic, physical therapy, veterinary, and dental clinics.
If you aren't finding anything, a little education can give you an advantage when you apply to one of these jobs. Online courses for laser techs are still pretty hard to find, at least when you're talking about photobiomodulation. There are quite a few courses for cosmetic lasers, but those just aren't the same as medical therapy lasers. Starting with Laser Therapy Institute's Basics course is a way to get some knowledge and a certificate. It could give you the edge you need when you apply for a laser tech job!
LTI: Yes, the LTI Basics course is an online training course that is open to anyone. The course covers The General Science of PBM, Laser Safety, Use, and Care, and Treatments and Dosing. These are self-paced modules with audio and video content that can be accessed by phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. The whole course is only $120.
Dr. Rountree: Best of all, they'll get to meet me in the videos! Actually, that might be more of a negative. How about a discount code for the laser therapy Basics course?
LTI: We can totally do a discount code. If anyone wants to take LTI's Basics course, they can just email us and we'll provide a major discount code for this course, email@example.com
Well, that probably sums up "how to become a laser tech" for now. Thanks for your time, Doctor!
Dr. Rountree: Let's do this more often. I'm getting tired of writing blog posts by myself!