How do I Become an EKG Technician?

Jessica Reed

An EKG technician, short for electrocardiogram technician, is responsible for using an EKG machine to measure the electrical activity of the patient's heart. To become an EKG technician, an interested person should look for a certification program through a community college or healthcare center that offers EKG technician training. These short technical programs will teach the skills needed to perform an EKG test. Those already working in the medical field might consider on the job training from a cardiologist. This takes from two to four months to complete.

EKG technicians receive training through community colleges or vocational schools and then become certified.
EKG technicians receive training through community colleges or vocational schools and then become certified.

Before deciding on the correct educational course, a student who wants to become an EKG technician should consider what type of EKG technician job he wants, and if he plans to move up to a more advanced job in the future. Performing a basic EKG test requires hooking several wires to stickers placed on the patient's chest, arms, and legs. The patient then lies still while the EKG technician operates a machine that reads and maps the electrical impulses coming from the patient's heart. The EKG technician must understand how the machine works so if the results do not come out right, he can run the test again.

An EKG technician uses an EKG machine to measure electrical activity of the heart.
An EKG technician uses an EKG machine to measure electrical activity of the heart.

EKG technicians with advanced training can move on to use a Holter monitor on a patient, or perform a stress test. The Holter monitor records the same electrical signals as the EKG machine, but is worn at all times by the patient for several days. The stress test, or treadmill stress test, involves the patient running or walking on a treadmill while wires hooked to the chest monitor the heart's electrical activity under stress.

Those who might consider moving into these more advanced testing methods in the future should consider earning a certificate or associate degree in cardiovascular technology. Once the training or degree is complete, a student can get official certification. Certification is available through the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) or the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).

A person who wants to become an EKG technician should consider receiving certification. Earning certification through ARDMS or CCI not only increases possible job opportunities, but may be necessary for those who wish to pursue a bachelor's degree either after certification or later on. Those who want to become an EKG technician but may wish to continue his education afterward can return to college and seek a bachelor's degree of health science in cardiovascular technology.

A stress test, or treadmill stress test, involves the patient running or walking on a treadmill while wires hooked to the chest monitor the heart's electrical activity under stress.
A stress test, or treadmill stress test, involves the patient running or walking on a treadmill while wires hooked to the chest monitor the heart's electrical activity under stress.

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