Electrocardiograph (EKG) technicians are medical professionals trained to perform diagnostic testing to monitor the electrical activity of the heart. EKG techs belong to the medical category of cardiovascular technicians and require specialized training and certification in order to perform diagnostic tests.
What Do They Do Specifically?
An EKG technician operates an electrocardiograph machine- a medical device designed to record the electrical impulses transmitted from a patient’s heart. EKGs are used to diagnose a range of heart conditions, including angina, atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. When an EKG is requested by a doctor or physician, it is the EKG tech’s responsibility to ensure proper testing and accurate readings.
The tech will attach anywhere from three to 12 electrodes to the patient’s chest, legs and arms, then adjust the EKG machine settings to ensure test accuracy. Once the test is complete, the technician will deliver the results to a cardiologist for interpretation and forward the findings to the requesting physician.
It is the responsibility of the EKG technician to explain the procedure to the patient before beginning, to ensure the patient is relaxed for the procedure and to attach the necessary devices to the patient in the correct fashion in order to obtain an accurate reading.
Training Needed To Become An EKG Technician
To enroll in a training program, applicants are required to have a high school diploma or GED. EKG technicians can obtain their training by completing certificate or associate degree programs offered through vocational and technical schools, community colleges and hospitals. Training takes about a year, and includes courses in patient care, medical terminology, anatomy and EKG equipment and procedures.
Though licensing requirements vary by state, many employers require EKG tech candidates to be certified. To become a certified technician, applicants must pass a written test that covers topics on EKG procedures, safety regulations and patient care. EKG technicians work primarily is hospitals, but are sometimes employed is physicians’ offices, outpatient centers and medical and diagnostic laboratories.
How Much Can You Expect To Earn In Terms Of Salary?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated the 2009 overall average annual salary of an EKG technician to be around $36,000. Technicians with one year experience or less earned between $20,000 and $31,000 a year, while technicians with 20 years of experience or more earned between $32,000 and $40,000 a year.
As of December 2009, the highest-paying EKG tech employers were non-profit organizations, with an average annual salary ranging from $28,000 to $45,000. Technicians in California, New York and Pennsylvania earned the highest salaries, with rates ranging from $32,000 to $46,000 a year.
The BLS predicts a job growth of 24 percent between 2008 and 2018, making the cardiovascular tech field one of the fastest growing fields in the United States. In addition to wages, EKG techs frequently receive tuition reimbursements, health, disability and life insurance, 401k retirement plans, paid vacation, paid holidays and sick leave.
Take A Look At This EKG Certificate Training Video
Here is a video from Kennesaw State University that gives an overview of what it takes to obtain a certificate as an EKG technician. (Beware hokey music is included…)