How To Become an EKG Technician
The Definitive Career Guide


Avg. Salary
$59,600

Education Duration
1-2 Years

Job Outlook
5%

Do you enjoy listening to people’s hearts beat?

Are you interested in a medical profession, but don’t want to get into nursing?

Working as an EKG Technician might be right up your alley.

An EKG Technician is responsible for giving cardiovascular tests to patients.

With a career as an EKG Technician, you can expect to have face to face interactions with patients, doctors, and specialists to ensure the health of patients.


What is an EKG Technician?

As an EKG Technician, you will listen to people’s heartbeats and record them over a period of time.

Hooking up the EKG machine is part of the job, and this machine measures the electrical activity in the patient’s heart.

An EKG Technician will listen to your heartbeat, record your heartbeat, and then decipher the meaning behind your heartbeats and any anomalies.

After inspection, the EKG Technician takes the report to the doctor who will then discuss it with the patient.

To be great at this job you must be willing to work with all types of people and have a solid knowledge of the medical field.

Duties

There are many duties to be done on a daily basis for an EKG Technician.

Some of the things that may be required in this career include:

  • Hooking up and disassembling equipment
  • Cleaning and sanitizing equipment
  • Creating reports on data
  • Observing tests
  • Monitoring patients
  • Talking to patients
  • Responding to medical codes
  • Talking to doctors

Salary

The average salary for an EKG Technician that works in the United States is around $59,000 a year.

Many EKG Technicians can make even more than that, over $76,000.

This can be done by earning certification, expanding your education, and possibly even going into specializations within the EKG community.

For EKG Technicians who are just beginning their career, $44,000 is a more likely salary.

People who work in larger populations will likely have higher salaries than those who work in small towns.

For example, EKG Technicians working in California can expect to make $76,000 a year, while EKG Technicians in Arkansas make $61,000 a year on average.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $59,600

$29K
$38K
$59K
$76K
$94K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$49,520
Alaska$62,430
Arizona$61,320
Arkansas$52,260
California$76,630
Colorado$69,560
Connecticut$75,570
Delaware$61,130
District of Columbia$78,850
Florida$50,330
Georgia$62,380
Hawaii$65,250
Idaho$60,940
Illinois$54,370
Indiana$55,570
Iowa$50,810
Kansas$56,760
Kentucky$47,190
Louisiana$42,170
Maine$62,760
Maryland$65,080
Massachusetts$72,960
Michigan$56,590
Minnesota$65,070
Mississippi$43,110
Missouri$52,280
Montana$64,130
Nebraska$53,410
Nevada$64,430
New Hampshire$64,740
New Jersey$78,030
New Mexico$57,720
New York$64,670
North Carolina$65,890
North Dakota$59,550
Ohio$54,260
Oklahoma$46,170
Oregon$81,410
Pennsylvania$56,860
Rhode Island$78,620
South Carolina$58,880
South Dakota$52,550
Tennessee$49,400
Texas$55,590
Vermont$57,300
Virginia$59,280
Washington$64,330
West Virginia$43,790
Wisconsin$65,570
Wyoming$56,350
Puerto Rico$29,330

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is Oregon, where the average salary is $81,410.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Oregon - $81,410
District of Columbia - $78,850
Rhode Island - $78,620
New Jersey - $78,030
California - $76,630
* Salary information based on May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, OCC Code 29-2031, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

How to Become an EKG Technician

Step 1 Earn a Degree

Most employers require some type of degree in order to work as an EKG Technician.

This is because with a degree you can demonstrate that you know how to do the job and have the knowledge that goes with working in the medical field.

Earning an Associate’s degree in cardiovascular technology will lead you to a great career as an EKG Technician.

Most Associates degrees take about two years to complete.

Keep in mind that any program you get into should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

You should be able to find many cardiovascular technology programs that are accredited at your local community college or university.

There may even be some available online, which could even take less than two years to complete.

Some of the classes that you should expect in a cardiovascular technology program include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • First Aid
  • Medical Terminology
  • Principles of Electrocardiography
  • Microbiology

Earning an Associate’s degree can help with gaining employment in an entry-level position at hospitals or other medical facilities.

Step 2 Gain Experience

Now that you have a degree, you should start to look for a career.

Some of the places that you can find the experience as an EKG Technician include:

  • Medical centers
  • Laboratories
  • Hospitals
  • Doctor’s offices
  • Clinics

If you are not ready to go full-out and get a job, another suggestion is to shadow an EKG Technician to see what their daily workday looks like.

You could also volunteer in a hospital or other medical center.

Obtaining hands-on experience in this field will take you far, the more knowledge you have about electrocardiography and the medical field in general, the higher chances of promotions and raises.

Before becoming certified, you should gain at least two years of experience as an EKG Technician so that you are well prepared for certification.

Step 3 Become Certified

Once you have a few years of experience in the field of EKG technology, then you may want to think about becoming certified.

This isn’t legally required anywhere in the United States yet, but it shows employers that you have competency in your career.

There are several certifications that an EKG Technician can obtain, including:

  • Certified EKG Technician from the National Health Career Association
  • Certified EKG Technician from the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians
  • ECG Technician from the American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals

Each certification has different requirements, but having an EKG Technician experience is a must for all.

In order to obtain these certifications, you must pass an exam.

After obtaining certification, you will stand out to employers and show that you have knowledge of your craft.

Step 4 Further Your Education

Whether you want to continue your career as an EKG Technician, or if you want to expand to something else in the medical field, having more education is not a bad idea.

Those who choose to earn a Bachelor’s degree will want to consider majoring in cardiopulmonary science.

If you already have an Associate’s degree, you may be able to transfer credits to speed up the process, but the typical Bachelor’s degree takes about four years to earn.

Some of the classes that you will take in a cardiopulmonary science program are:

  • Pulmonary Pathology
  • Cardiac Electrophysiology
  • Patient Assessment
  • Diagnostic Testing

There are other majors that could qualify for this career field.

Consider asking your employer before determining which major is right for you.

The other majors to consider are:

  • Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Cardiovascular Sonography
  • Cardiovascular Technology

This is a great step into a more advanced career as an EKG Technician, or even to gain a promotion into a management position.


Education

To obtain a career as an EKG Technician, you do not legally have to have a degree.

However, most employers require at least some type of education.

Many would agree that an Associate’s degree in cardiovascular technology is a good fit for this career.

On average, an Associate’s degree takes about two years to complete.

Within a cardiovascular technology program, you’ll learn many things about ultrasound technology and the cardiovascular system.

There will be many times where you will have to put your knowledge to practical use, and you’ll also take many classes on subjects like:

  • Anatomy
  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiovascular technology practice
  • Pathophysiology
  • Clinical skills

It’s possible to earn an Associate’s degree as an EKG Technician online, but make sure that you also receive hands-on experience in the field while taking classes.

Earning an Associate’s degree will provide the chance to work in entry-level jobs in the medical field.

Having a Bachelor’s degree can heighten your chance of promotion, into more management types of roles in the cardiovascular field.

A Bachelor’s degree in cardiopulmonary science takes about four years to finish, however it’s possible that some of the Associate’s degree credits could transfer, making your education take less time.

This degree will take you deeper into the world of cardiovascular science, and explore topics such as:

  • Patient Management
  • Legal and Ethical Aspects of Healthcare
  • Leadership
  • Community Health
  • Diagnosis and Intervention

After earning a Bachelor’s degree, there are so many career opportunities.

Some of them need further certification, but you could find your niche as a:

  • Respiratory Therapist
  • Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist
  • Vascular Technologist
  • Echocardiographer

The type of career you are looking for will decide which education level you need.

While gaining an education, it’s crucial to have hands-on experience as well.

You can do this by shadowing other EKG Technicians in order to see how they work and what the correct procedures are.

It’s possible to gain experience by volunteering in clinics or hospitals in your community.

The important part is to become as expert as you can in your field of interest.

Video About The Career


Certification

Certification is a great way to show an employer and patients that you know what you are doing as an EKG Technician.

Even though this isn’t a legal requirement, it’s still something that you should consider if you want to work in this profession.

There are several associations that provide certification for EKG Technicians.

The three biggest ones are:

  • The National Health Career Association
  • The American Certification Agency for Healthcare Professionals
  • The American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians

The Certified EKG Technician from the Health Career Association certificate has one specific requirement, applicants must have completed education in the field within the last five years.

In order to obtain this certification, you must take an exam that costs $117.

This exam takes about three hours to finish and consists of multiple-choice questions.

Some of the areas to focus on for the exam include:

  • Safety Compliance and Coordinated Patient Care
  • EKG Acquisition
  • EKG Analysis and Interpretation

You can expect to get your results in the mail between 6 to 8 weeks after taking the exam.

For the Certified EKG Technician certification from the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians, (yes, it has the same name), you will need to have the following requirements:

  • Be a current ASPT member
  • Have proof of 5 documented EKGs by a supervisor
  • Be a graduate of an accredited program

This exam costs $60 to apply for, and testing sites can be found across the United States, check your local hospital or community college.

For the other certification, the Certified ECG Technician from the American Certification Agency of Healthcare Professionals, you must have:

  • At least six months of EKG recording experience
  • Successful completion of an EKG program

This exam is given online through the ACAHP website, and more information about how to obtain this certification can be found there as well.

Certification Example:

ekg technician certificate

Average Training Program Duration: 1-2 Years

Training to become an EKG Technician can take as little as six months, but be wary of short programs because they often don’t give out the education needed to begin an entry-level career.

Instead, opt for programs that are a year or longer, and that offer clinicals to get some hands-on experience in the field of EKG technology.

Those who are serious about becoming EKG Technicians will earn an Associate’s degree, this can typically take around two years to complete.

Certifications can take from six weeks to several months, depending on the certification.


Job Outlook

The career of an EKG Technician will be on the rise over the next ten years at a rate of about 5 percent.

Compared to other careers in the medical field, an EKG Technician should expect the most job opportunities.

This is due to the necessity of medical attention for the aging baby boomer generation.

As this generation ages, they will also retire which will provide more job opportunities for new EKG Technicians.

Those that have certifications or work in a specialized niche as an EKG Technician will likely find more career opportunities.

With advancements in machinery, more employers are requiring that EKG Technicians have advanced education in the field of technology as well.

Employment Growth Projection: 5%

57,400
2018
60,500
2028

That's a higher than average projected growth of 3,100


Should You Become an EKG Technician?

Overall Satisfaction: High

Overall Satisfaction

Most EKG Technicians love their careers, the only downfall is that there aren’t many opportunities for advancement.

This career is fast-paced, bet less stressful than most medical careers.

It doesn’t take too long to become an EKG Technician, only around two years, and can have great benefits as well as a good salary.

Those who gain more education will likely have more job prospects in this career, as well as opportunities for raises and promotions over those with no certifications.

The hours are decent and depending on the type of facility that you work in, you may not work forty hours a week.

This is good for some and hard for others, but this job can be very lucrative in the long run.

Average Salary: High

Average Salary

Most EKG Technicians in the United States make around $59,000 a year.

After several years of experience and earning certifications, many EKG Technicians can make over $76,000 in some areas.

Being specialized in a specific type of EKG can also provide a higher wage.

There are some EKG Technicians that are new to the career who should expect to make a salary closer to $44,000 a year to begin.

Working in a larger hospital or in an area with a higher population can lead to bigger salaries as well.

Job Growth Outlook: High

Job Growth Outlook

Having a career as an EKG Technician can be incredible, and it looks as if this career is on the rise.

Over the next decade, the job opportunities for EKG Technicians should grow by about 5 percent.

This is much higher than many other careers in the medical field.

There has been a bigger need for EKG Technicians over the last several years, and that will continue to grow due to the aging baby boomers.

As this generation gets older, they will need more medical care.

The rise in technology has also helped those who desire to work as an EKG Technician.

Education Duration: 1-2 Years

Education Duration

The duration of your education to become an EKG Technician depends on the facility that you want to work for.

Your employer can tell you whether they’d like you to earn an Associate’s degree or even just a certificate from a local community college.

If you require an Associate’s degree, this can take about two years to complete for full-time students.

However, there are many certification programs with varying lengths-from 6 weeks to 6 months or even a year.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

Working as an EKG Technician can be difficult for those who don’t have knowledge in the medical field, but it’s important to have other characteristics as well.

In order to have a successful career as an EKG Technician, you should have:

  • Physical stamina
  • Understanding of EKG technology
  • Good written and verbal communication skills
  • Compassion and empathy
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Great observation skills
  • Ability to work alone and with others
  • Good bedside manner

Having a caring heart and a desire to help others will get you far in this career.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q.

What is the average salary for an EKG Technician?

Most EKG Technicians in the United States makes about $59,000 a year.

Having a good education and certification can lead to a salary of over $76,000 for some EKG Technicians.

When you are just beginning your career, it’s better to expect a salary of around $44,000 to start.

Earning a degree, working toward certification, and even becoming specialized in a certain niche will grant you promotions and higher salaries in the long run.

Q.

How long does it take to become an EKG Technician?

The length of time it takes to become an EKG Technician is ultimately up to you.

There are many programs online and at community colleges or trade schools that teach EKG courses for a year to 18 months.

Most people who work as EKG Technicians earn an Associate’s degree, which takes about two years to finish.

After a couple of years of experience, you can become certified as an EKG Technician in a variety of areas.

All in all, it can take anywhere from 2-4 years to become a (Certified) EKG Technician.

Q.

What does an EKG Technician do?

An EKG Technician is a specialist who works with echocardiograms to determine the cardiovascular health of patients.

This can be done by performing tests on the patient, monitoring blood pressure, and collecting information to give to the doctors.

Some other tasks that you will likely have as an EKG Technician include:

  • Sanitizing equipment
  • Keeping patients comfortable
  • Setting up components of equipment
  • Monitoring equipment

In this career, it is required to work alongside many different doctors, nurses, and patients, so having great communication skills will get you far.

Q.

What is the demand for EKG Technicians?

There will always be a need for technicians in this world, especially those who work in the medical field.

With advanced technology, there are more possibilities to discover issues with the heart than ever, and this calls for more career opportunities as well.

Those who are interested in this career can expect it to grow around 19 percent over the next decade.

There shouldn’t be an issue gaining employment, especially as the baby boomer generation grows older, calling for more medical attention.

Q.

How much does it cost to become an EKG Technician?

Some programs that take about a year or so to finish can cost anywhere from $450 to $1,000 to complete.

On average, an Associate’s degree in the United States can cost about $15,000 to $20,000 to finish, depending on the type of school you enroll in.

Certifications can cost about $100 each, also depending on which certifications you choose.

All in all, it can take from $550 to over $20,500 to become an EKG Technician.


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