An EKG technician is a health care employee who operates electrocardiograph (EKG) machines to pick up electrical impulses from the heart that are used to assist in monitoring cardiovascular function and health. EKG technicians place electrodes at points on a patient's body, and then print a read-out for a physician to analyze. The procedure is often part of a routine exam, especially for elderly patients and those with previous cardiovascular issues, but EKG technician careers can also specialize, moving into fields like surgery.
Training and EKG Technician Courses
Most EKG technician careers begin with on-the-job training, which may last around 8-16 weeks. Formal certification is not required, but employers prefer candidates who have experience in health care. Sometimes students are able to work as EKG technicians during their studies in related fields. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals has accredited 34 programs in the United States for training programs and EKG technician classes.
EKG Technician Careers
If you are able to listen to detailed instructions, and have an aptitude for computer and machine functions, you may do well to begin an EKG technician career. EKG technicians also interact with patients, shaving and preparing skin for electrode stickers, positioning them on exam tables, and giving instructions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of EKG technicians in 2009 was $48,300, spanning around 48,000 jobs, about 77 percent of which were in cardiology departments in hospitals. Others were employed by physicians, laboratories, and diagnostic imaging centers.
Over the next few years there will likely be an increasing demand for EKG technicians, as the population ages and needs more cardiovascular attention. Hospitals may begin training nursing aids and other current employees in EKG techniques, so now is the time to get on task; enroll in EKG technician classes, and start a new career now.