(EKG or ECG) Technicians operate equipment that records and measures heart
activity. These measurements are used to assist cardiologists and other
physicians in diagnosing and treating cardiac (heart) and peripheral
vascular (blood vessel) problems. An EKG technician first obtains a
patient’s medical history and medication use. Then they prepare a patient
by attaching electrodes to the chest, arms, and legs. These electrodes
will measure trace electrical impulses transmitted by the heart in order
to obtain a printout that can be used by the physician. These tests are
often done as part of routine examination before surgeries, especially on
older patients or those that have a history of cardiovascular problems.
With additional on-the-job training or experience, EKG technicians may
specialize in areas such as cardiac catheterization, Holter monitoring,
phonocardiography, stress testing, and vectorcardiography. EKG technicians
must be able to recognize an emergency and assist the physician in
responding to them. Anyone interested in this field should have an
interest in high-tech mechanical equipment. He or she should also be able
to sympathize with people and reassure them when they are apprehensive
about the testing procedure.
EKG technicians usually work under the
direction of a cardiologist and may help in the training of less
experienced EKG technicians. They may work in hospitals, clinics, cardiac
rehabilitation centers, and doctors’ offices.
High School Preparation:
interested in becoming an EKG technician should take high school courses
in biology, algebra, health occupations/medical professions education,
physical education, English, computer skills, emergency medical
technology, and typing.
Individuals interested in a career as an EKG
technician must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Most people
entering this profession receive on-the-job training under the supervision
of an experienced EKG technician that lasts 3 to 6 months. There are
longer programs offered through community colleges that offer an
associate’s degree and board certification. Students graduating these
programs usually command higher pay and are placed in supervisory roles.
Most employers prefer to train people who are already in a health-related
field, such as a nurse aid or physician assistant.
For educational institutions in
offering this course of study click here.
opportunities for electrocardiograph technicians are expected to grow
faster than the average for all other occupations. The US Department of
Labor predicts an increase of 21% to 35% over the next eight years. The
rapidly growing older population will be one reason for this growth, since
older people tend to have more incidence of heart problem. The largest
growth in employment will be in specialty areas such as echocardiography,
vascular technology, and Holter monitoring. Technology will also help spur
demand in this sector because newly trained individuals will be needed to
operate the high-tech and increasingly complicated equipment. Due to the
small size of the profession, few openings will result from need to
replace individuals who retire or leave the labor force for some other
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