Electrocardiograph technology is utilized in cardiovascular monitoring, imaging and treatment. Learn about educational and training options, related job duties, employment outlook and professional certification.
Is Electrocardiograph Technology for Me?
Electrocardiograph technology involves using specialized medical equipment to determine the heart's health and ensure that it's functioning correctly. Individuals who work in this field are called electrocardiograph, EKG or cardiographic technicians.
With a career in electrocardiograph technology, you can expect to spend your time taking EKGs, which involve monitoring the electrical impulses sent to and from the human heart. This is done by attaching electrodes to your patient's body and then using an EKG machine to get a reading. An EKG is sometimes done during a routine physical exam but can also be performed prior to many surgeries.
If you get advanced training in electrocardiograph technology, you can qualify to perform stress testing and electrical activity monitoring. The former involves monitoring a patient's heart during rigorous activity, whereas the latter provides information about the heart's impulses during normal activity.
Work Environment and Skills Needed
As an electrocardiograph technician, you can expect to spend considerable time on your feet and moving patients or heavy equipment. You might find this job stressful in some cases, particularly when working with patients with life-threatening heart problems.
This job can also require you to be in close proximity to radiation, although following safety guidelines to the letter can minimize this risk. Mechanical aptitude, reliability, a relaxed manner, the ability to follow instructions and good communication skills are considered essential attributes in this field. You'll also need to complete some form of electrocardiograph technology training program.
Salary and Employment Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 30% growth of jobs for cardiovascular technicians was anticipated between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). However, many health care institutions teach nursing aides and other entry-level staff how to perform EKG testing and monitoring, so learning advanced electrocardiograph procedures could increase your marketability. As reported by the BLS in May of 2012, cardiovascular technologists and technicians, professionals who perform electrocardiograms, earned a median yearly salary of $52,070.
How Can I Work in Electrocardiograph Technology?
No single educational path exists for getting started in this field. On-the-job training is more common than other cardiovascular technology positions. Employer training programs typically take only 4-6 weeks to complete, and many hospitals and clinics choose existing staff or those with health care experience to train for the job. If you're interested in electrocardiography technology, learning procedures, such as Holter monitoring, or obtaining additional training in such areas as nurse assisting or health care informatics could improve your employment opportunities.
You could also learn EKG procedures in a formal training program through a postsecondary institution. Programs for basic EKG technology include 1-year certificate programs and 2-year associate degree programs. A basic EKG technician degree or certificate program generally includes courses in anatomy, physiology, medical terminology and standard stress testing. You'll also receive hands-on laboratory training that allows you to practice with EKG machines, and you could participate in a clinical experience. Some programs combine EKG technician training with the study of phlebotomy or other types of cardiovascular technology, especially at the associate degree level.
Even with a degree or certificate, you might need some work experience to make the necessary contacts to get started in this field. Although this field doesn't require licensure or certification, you can pursue voluntary electrocardiograph technician credentialing. Cardiovascular Credentialing International offers several certifications, such as the Certified Cardiographic Technician and the Registered Cardiac Electrophysiology Specialist designations, that can demonstrate your expertise in EKG testing and monitoring. Sufficient work experience or completing and academic program a cardiovascular or electrophysiology field can qualify you for testing to earn these credentials (www.cci-online.org).
Additionally, the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians offers members of the organization certification in EKG technology. Eligibility requirements include either six months of experience in the field or completion of an acceptable education program (www.aspt.org).