Become an EKG Technician: Training and Education Required
An EKG technician uses devices that monitor a patient's cardiovascular functions and initial EKG technician training is performed on the job.
Most EKG technicians are trained on the job, under the supervision of a cardiologist or an EKG supervisor. The basic requirement is a high school diploma or a GED. It is helpful to have completed some CPR training, as well as possess some knowledge of medical terminology prior to applying for the job.
You will spend your first four to six weeks with basic resting heart functions, performing clerical duties and assisting in the cardio ward. Once you have completed basic training, you can pursue more advanced EKG monitoring, learn about applying the Holter device, a device that is worn by a patient for one to two days to learn about cardiovascular functions and which is put in place by an EKG technician, and assist with stress testing.
An EKG technician job is an entry-level position. Once you have completed your training, and have gained experience in the field, you may become a cardiographic technician. Becoming a cardiographic technician will take about two years of work experience, plus training to apply the Holter monitor, recognize arrhythmias and assist with stress testing. You will also need to write and pass the Certified Cardiographic Technician Examination, available from Cardiovascular Credentialing International.
Tips and Advice
It is a good idea to complete a CPR course prior to applying for your first position as a technician. Some of the job postings for EKG technicians ask that the applicant have completed Basic Life Support training, a course that is usually only open to persons who are currently employed in the healthcare industry or who have recently completed a CPR course. The American Heart Association provides resources and information about completing CPR training, as well as BLS training. This training is not required; however, you will be completing with applicants who have completed this training, and possibly have experience in the field, when applying for positions, so it can't hurt to complete it yourself and become a more competitive applicant.
Try to get some experience working with computers, especially doing data entry or entering information into databases. Many healthcare settings use databases, such as the MUSE cardiology information system, to record patient information. EKG technicians often perform clerical duties, such as filling out forms and interacting with patients, as part of their daily tasks.
Different Types of EKG Technician Jobs
The basic duties of the EKG technician will require you to interact with patients and healthcare professionals, as well as completing clerical work and basic EKG monitoring. As you progress, you will still be working with the public and professionals, as well administering more complicated EKG monitoring, such as applying the Holter device which uses 12 EKG leads to perform monitoring and requires additional training to use. You can also work in stress testing, performed in the healthcare setting, but also preformed in health research centers, another area for employment once you have experience. You can also find work in neonatal and pediatric EKG.
Once you have experience, as well as a Cardiographic Technician Certification, and depending on the opportunities where you are employed, you could pursue a promotion to become an EKG Supervisor.