Take your time and good luck!
Take your time and good luck!
What is an EKG Technician?
EKG techs, also known as EKG techs and cardiovascular techs, are an integral part of a cardiovascular health care team. EKG technicians are responsible for administering a variety of vital tests on a patient’s pulmonary or cardiovascular system for diagnostic, therapeutic, or research purposes. The position requires specialized knowledge and skills, a high level of competence, and attention to detail, along with good communication and interpersonal skills.
Why become an EKG Technician?
If you’re looking for a rewarding career in a rapidly growing field of healthcare that makes a significant difference in the health and lives of many, being an EKG Technologist might be right for you.
The demand for EKG technicians is projected to grow 17 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. With an average salary of $60,940 per year, it’s one of the highest-paying health care jobs that doesn’t require a four-year college degree. As the US population continues to age, the need to diagnose medical conditions such as blood clots and heart disease is expected to increase. This will only increase the demand for qualified EKG technicians.
From Physician Assistant to EKG Technician
Training to become an EKG technician by completing a qualified medical assistant program can offer several important advantages to your health care career.
MAs are qualified to perform a wide range of clinical and administrative duties in a variety of healthcare settings. Your duties may include patient interaction, basic coding and billing, office procedures, use of technology, medical and legal documentation, and electronic medical records. This breadth of knowledge can increase your value to your employers, regardless of the position you hold. It can also provide opportunities to advance to roles with greater responsibility and better pay.
What do EKG technicians do?
EKG technicians are responsible for performing various tests of a patient’s heart and lungs, although they primarily perform electrocardiograms (EKGs). They attach leads to a patient’s arms, chest, and legs, monitor EKG readings, and report test results. Testing can be done while the patient is at rest or while they are physically active, often while walking on a treadmill. EKG technicians may also perform a number of other tasks vital to the diagnostic preparation, procedure, and reporting process.
EKG Technician duties may include:
- Prepare patients for procedures
- Answer questions about the procedure
- Obtain and record the patient’s medical history.
- Prepare and maintain diagnostic imaging equipment.
- Operate equipment to obtain diagnostic images or perform tests.
- Review images or test results to check quality and coverage
- Recognize abnormal images and identify other relevant diagnostic information
- Analyze diagnostic information to provide a summary of findings for clinicians.
- Record findings and keep track of patient records
- Assist doctors during procedures
EKG Technician Skills
Beyond education and certification, a number of “soft” skills are considered key to success as an EKG technician. These include:
Attention to Details:
- EKG technicians must follow precise instructions to obtain the images necessary to accurately diagnose and treat patients. For example, they must pay close attention to the computer screen while scanning a patient’s body, because the cues that distinguish a healthy image from an unhealthy one are often quite subtle.
- To obtain quality images, EKG technicians must accurately set up and position the equipment on the patient’s body. They must also reposition and adjust the equipment in response to what they see on the screen.
- EKG technicians work closely with their patients. Sometimes patients are in pain, sick, injured, or disabled in some way that makes diagnostic testing difficult. EKG technicians often must gain the patient’s trust and cooperation to create usable images. EKG technicians must also communicate clearly with patients, physicians, and other health professionals.
- EKG technicians are on their feet for long periods. They are also expected to move, install, and adjust equipment. In some cases, they must be able to lift and move patients who need help.
Technical skills: EKG technicians must understand how to operate complex machinery and computerized instruments. Like any technology, diagnostic equipment can change over time and may require a knowledgeable troubleshooter.
Where do EKG technicians work?
EKG diagnostics are widely used in the healthcare industry. As a result, EKG technicians can work in a variety of healthcare settings, including:
- Medical consultants
- General hospitals
- Ambulatory Care Centers
- Specialized hospitals
- Medical laboratories
EKG Technician School and Certification
Educational Requirements for Electrocardiogram Technicians
To be an EKG technician, you must have a formal education, such as an associate’s degree or a postsecondary certificate or diploma. Many employers also require a professional certification.
Many colleges and universities may offer bachelor’s and associate’s degree programs in cardiovascular and vascular technology. One-year certificate programs are also available at universities and some hospitals. Programs include courses in invasive or non-invasive vascular or cardiovascular technology procedures. In addition to classroom study, most programs will include a clinical component, such as an internship, where students earn credit while working with an experienced technologist in a hospital, doctor’s office, or imaging lab.
It is important to note that employers generally prefer graduates of programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
EKG Technician Certification Requirements
Most employers require or prefer to hire professionally certified EKG technicians, or may expect new technicians to become certified soon after they are hired. This is because many insurance providers will only pay for procedures if the tests are performed by a certified technician.
The certification for professionals who work in the areas of ECG, Holter monitoring, and stress testing is the Certified Cardiographic Technician (CCT) certification. This certification is offered by Cardiovascular Credentialing International and computer-based testing for the CCT credential is offered throughout the year at local testing centers.
The requirements to take the CCT certification exam include:
- Have a high school diploma or a general education diploma.
- Be a current student or graduate of cardiovascular health or related training program or be currently or formerly employed in the field of cardiovascular technology or in an allied health field recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA). OR completed the requirements for a graduate or bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution in a field related to physical health science.
- Typed documentation to support the qualification under which you are applying.
In addition to EKG technician certification, many employers prefer to hire EKG technicians who have a basic life support (BLS) certification, which confirms that they are trained to provide CPR. Some states may also have other requirements, including licensing. You can contact your state medical board for more information.
How long does it take to become an EKG Technician?
Depending on the length of the educational program you choose, you can become an EKG technician in as little as 9 months with a qualifying certificate program. While longer programs such as an associate’s or bachelor’s degree may qualify you for more responsibility, more job opportunities, and higher pay, they are not required to begin your medical career as an EKG technician.
While it costs approximately $100,000 on average to complete a 4-year state college program and approximately $32,000 to complete a 2-year state college program, the total cost of completing a 9-month certificate or diploma program can be much less, especially when you factor in the income you don’t earn while you’re in school and before you start your career.
How Much Do EKG Technicians Earn?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, EKG technicians earned a median salary* of $60,940. Hourly workers earned a median hourly rate of about $30 per hour.
EKG technicians earning in the top 10 percent can earn up to $96,000 or more per year.