EKG Technician Education Requirements and Career Information

EKG technicians use electrocardiograms to monitor a patient's heart activity. EKG certificate programs offer training in echocardiography and teach students about the cardiovascular system. Continue reading to learn more about this career field.

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Education Requirements for an EKG Technician

While aspiring EKG technicians may receive on-the-job training, many complete certificate programs at a community college or vocational school. Topics covered may include echocardiography, medical terminology, the role of the EKG technician, electrocardiography, anatomy of the heart, medical disease processes, phlebotomy and legal issues for the EKG technician.

Clinical topics covered include 12-lead placement, ventricular rhythms, sinus rhythm, basic EKG interpretation, Holter monitor use and identifying heart rhythms. Students are also provided with hands-on experience, which teaches them how to operate electrocardiograms.

Certification

Although certification may not be a requirement, many employers require EKG technicians to obtain certification. EKG technicians can obtain certification through several organizations. Requirements for certification are typically the completion of a training program and experience on-the-job. Organizations offering certification exams for EKG technicians include the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion, American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians and American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals.

Career Information for an EKG Technician

EKG technicians perform electrocardiograms to measure and record heart activity as a way of diagnosing and treating heart disease. Some EKG technicians are trained to perform Holter monitors or stress tests, both of which involve attaching electrodes to the patient's body in order to obtain EKG readings. The Holter monitor tracks the patient's heart over a 24-hour period, while the stress test involves using a treadmill to observe how a patient's heart responds to exertion. EKG technicians work in a variety of settings, such as hospital-based cardiology clinics, cardiac rehabilitation centers, doctor's offices and emergency rooms.

Career and Salary Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2010 that cardiovascular technologists and technicians would be in demand due to the aging population and the rate of heart disease (www.bls.gov). This profession was expected to see an employment growth of 29% from 2010-2020. EKG techs with training in stress testing and Holter monitoring would typically see better employment opportunities than those who could only do a basic EKG. Salary information provided by PayScale.com shows that the median annual salary for EKG technicians as of November 2013 was $28,286.

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