How Long Do I Have to Go to School to Become an EKG Technician?

by James Rada, Jr.; Updated September 26, 2017
Doctors interpret EKG readouts, but the test is administered by a technician.

An EKG technician is also known as a cardiographic technician. These are men and women who train in how to administer EKG tests, a non-invasive technology used to study the heart. They differ from cardiovascular technologists who specialize in invasive cardiologic tests. The average pay for these health workers was $47,010 a year in 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Job

EKGs measure the electrical impulses transmitted by a heart through electrodes attached to the patient’s body. The technician makes sure that all of the electrodes are attached to the proper locations and runs the machine. The interpretation of the results is left for the doctor. Besides EKG testing, cardiographic technicians perform stress tests and Holter monitor testing (a type of portable EKG that a patient wears for a day).

Education

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most cardiographic technicians are trained on the job. The training takes approximately four to six weeks and is overseen by a supervisor or cardiologist. Some technicians may have completed a two-year program for cardiovascular technologist, but this is not necessary or required to operate an EKG.

Credentialing

Credentialing is not required by the state for cardiographic technicians, but most employers require it, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Technicians can be credentialed through Cardiovascular Credentialing International and the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. Technicians need to have completed an accredited education program to be able to take the credentialing exam and will also need to earn continuing education credits to maintain credentials.

Other Qualifications

Besides training, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that cardiographic technicians should have some mechanical aptitude since they will be working with machinery and should be able to follow detailed instructions. Since they will be working with nervous patients, technicians should have a pleasant personality and be able to put patients at ease.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for cardiovascular technologists and cardiographic technicians is excellent. The field is growing faster than average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is because the population is aging and with that comes an increase in heart problems.

About the Author

James Rada, Jr. was a newspaper reporter for eight years and earned 23 awards from the Maryland Delaware D.C. Press Association, Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Maryland State Teachers’ Association and CNHI. He also worked for 12 years as a marketing communications writer, earning a Print Copywriter of the Year Award from the Utah Ad Federation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications.

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