How to Become an EKG Technician:
The Definitive Guide


The heart is the most powerful muscle in the body.

That’s why it’s important to keep it strong and in shape.

An EKG Technician is a specialist that knows how to listen to your heart, look at your heart, and use technology in order to make sure that your heart is healthy.

With a career as an EKG Technician, it’s important to be vigilant and precise, as the heart is intricate and complicated.

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What is an EKG Technician?

There are many things that an EKG can discover in a person, and an EKG Technician is the one who will determine what’s going on.

From heart attacks, heart disease, and other illnesses, an EKG Technician uses procedures like an echocardiogram in order to verify the health of the patient.

An EKG Technician may listen to your heart, view your heart in an ultrasound, and perform physical tests in order to diagnose and treat disease and illness.

In this career, you should expect to work with a medical team that will provide all of the treatments the patient needs.

Duties

Not only will you have to do paperwork and fill out data as an EKG Technician, but there are other important aspects of this career.

Some of the duties that an EKG Technician should expect on a daily basis are:

  • Book appointments
  • Prep patients
  • Run EKG tests
  • Clean and sanitize equipment
  • Transcribe doctor’s notes

Salary

On average, an EKG Technician will make about $59,000 a year in most areas.

Those who have certifications and many years of experience can expect to make up to $95,000 in some states.

It is not likely that you will make that much as soon as you start your job, those with little experience typically make about $29,000 a year.

Working in larger hospitals or highly populated areas is another way to make a higher salary as an EKG Technician.

Gaining experience and credentials also has an effect on how much you can make yearly as an EKG Technician.

  • 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 the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.
Conducted by: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

How to Become an EKG Technician

Step 1Become Educated

Working with EKG equipment is a very skilled career, so in order to become an EKG Technician, you will need to have some type of education.

There are several different avenues that you can go down as an aspiring EKG Technician.

Some people choose to do an EKG Technician program, which can take about one year to finish.

Others decide they want to earn an Associate’s degree, this can take about two years to complete.

In an Associates degree program, you can expect to take classes that include:

  • Anatomy of the Heart
  • The Cardiac Cycle
  • EKG History
  • Conduction Systems of the Heart
  • Performing an EKG
  • EKG Exercise
  • Medical Terminology
  • Anatomy and Physiology

After gaining a degree or certificate, you can now become certified as an EKG Technician and work as an EKG Technician in the state you choose.

These types of degrees can be done online or in person, but most require some type of hands-on experience in order to graduate.

Step 2Gain Certification

All states and employers don’t require EKG Technicians to become licensed or certified, but it is a great thing to have on your resume.

This is because it shows employers and patients that you have competence in the field, and can deliver the correct treatment.

To gain certification as an EKG Technician, you’ll need to take an exam.

Most exams are about 100 multiple-choice questions, and can be done online or in-person at testing locations across the country.

Most educational programs will provide testing information to students, however, most go through the National Healthcareer Association.

In order to be eligible for this certification, you must:

  • Completed on-the-job training
  • Have successfully performed 10 EKGs

Once you have completed these prerequisites, you now must pass the exam with at least a score of 300 out of 500 to become certified.

Step 3Become Employed

Whether you become certified or not, there are some important things to do before you gain employment as an EKG Technician.

First, you want to make sure you have some on the job experience, this can be done through internships and labs during your educational program.

If you didn’t have any of that in school, you can volunteer at hospitals or EKG treatment centers in your area.

Most employers want their EKG Technicians to have a bit of knowledge and experience before becoming employed.

Some places that you can find employment as an EKG Technician after graduation are:

  • Hospitals
  • Cardiac Centers
  • Emergency Rooms
  • Urgent Care Centers
  • Private Practices

After many years of experience, you may want to think about furthering your career in this field.

An EKG Technician is a great job to start your journey in the medical field, but many choose to gain more education to further their opportunities.

Step 4Further Your Career

Once you become well-versed in the technicians of an EKG Technician, it may be time to think about what’s next on your career ladder.

There are options for people who want to gain promotions and raises as an EKG Technician.

In fact, if you want to rise up in the healthcare field, it is likely that you will need to earn a Bachelor’s degree.

These take about four years to finish, but with an Associate’s degree, it can be cut down to two.

Some of the career opportunities for an EKG Technician to further their career include:

  • Medical Laboratory Technologist
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologist
  • Radiation Therapist

After earning a Bachelor’s degree and completing an internship, there are countless opportunities that await you in the medical field.


Education

It is possible to find an EKG Technician job that doesn’t require any education, but that doesn’t sound very practical.

Instead of bursting into a career with no knowledge, it’s best to earn some type of certificate or degree.

Many EKG Technicians earn a certificate from an educational program that takes about one year to finish.

These certificate programs provide the basic level of education that an EKG Technician would need to gain employment.

In this type of program, you can expect to learn:

  • Medical Terminology
  • Written Communication
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Electrocardiography Introduction

Other EKG Technicians choose an Associate’s degree to set them on the right path, which can take about two years to complete.

Either way, make sure that your education is accredited and that there is at least some hands-on experience and labs.

There are several types of classes that you will take with this type of degree.

Many will be core classes, like math, science, and English.

Others will be more specific to the field that you wish to work in, like:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Medical Terminology
  • Medical Diagnostics
  • History of the EKG
  • Cardiac Diagnostic Procedures

Once you gain some experience as an EKG Technician, you may want to attend a Bachelor’s degree program.

This should take about 2 more years, and provides even more education and work experience for EKG Technicians.

Most of the classes are the same as with an Associate’s degree but will be more specified toward the distinction of your career.

EKG Technicians will learn about EKG techniques and procedures, as well as anatomy and physiology courses.

With each degree, the career opportunities open even farther for EKG Technicians.

In fact, with a Bachelors degree, you may be able to snag a job as a/an:

  • Certified Nurse Assistant
  • Medical Assistant
  • Phlebotomist
  • Home Health Aide

Video About The Career


Certification and Licensing

There are many types of certifications that are available for someone interested in becoming an EKG Technician.

Even though there is not a necessity to become licensed as an EKG Technician, having a certification is almost essential.

Many states don’t require certification, but it does help when it comes to getting hired.

Most employers like to see that their EKG Technicians come into the job with some experience and competency.

Through the National Healthcareer Association, you can earn the Certified EKG Technician credential.

In order to be eligible for this certification, you must:

  • Have completed an education program
  • Have a High School diploma
  • Have successfully performed 10 EKGs

That’s it, and you can sit for the exam to become a Certified EKG Technician.

You can find many different testing facilities across the country.

This exam takes about two hours to finish and is about 100 questions long.

It should cost about $150 to $200 to take this exam.

There are a variety of topics to study, including:

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

Another certification that is popular among EKG Technicians is the 

EKG Tech Certification through the American Medical Certification Association.

This certification also requires that you pass an exam.

With a fee of $109, there are several steps to this certification.

In order to become a Certified EKG Technician, you will need to:

  • Prepare Holter Monitoring and Stress Testing
  • Perform an EKG
  • Understand medical terminology
  • Perform diagnostic testing

This test is 110 questions long and should last about two hours.

When looking to become certified as an EKG Technician, it is important to make sure that the association that you go through is accredited.

Earning a certification or working toward specialization as an EKG Technician can provide new opportunities, raises, and promotions.

Average Training Program Duration: 2-4 Years

There are many different types of certification programs for EKG Technicians.

Some of them can last as long as a year, while the shortest only takes about two hours.

Most certification exams take about two hours to complete and should be done after you graduate from an educational program.

Depending on the type of certification you want, you can expect to spend about a year gaining knowledge as an EKG Technician.

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Job Outlook

Over the next ten years, EKG Technicians will have many more career opportunities available.

Those looking to get into the medical field as an EKG Technician can expect growth of around 17 percent in this area.

That is quite a bit more than other careers in the medical field, and also careers elsewhere.

The reason for this jump in job openings is due to the aging Baby Boomer population, as well as the growth of technology.

With this advancement in science, it’s now easier to take images of the vascular system.

Having the proper certification and education can increase career opportunities in this occupation as well.

Employment Growth Projection: 17%

74,300
2018
86,800
2028

That's a higher than average projected growth of 12,500 jobs.

EKG Technician: Interest Over Time


Should You Become an EKG Technician?

Overall Satisfaction: High

Overall Satisfaction

This career has one of the best satisfaction ratings among medical careers.

That’s because EKG technicians know that they are helping patients better their lives by making sure their heart is healthy.

The hours can be long for this career, but the salary and education required makes up for that.

Those looking for a career as an EKG Technician should have empathy and tough skin, as this can be a difficult job both physically and emotionally.

One of the downfalls of this job is that there aren’t many chances to advance without having to gain more education or certifications.

Average Salary: High

Average Salary

Working as an EKG Technician can be a very lucrative career.

The average salary for this occupation is about $59,000 a year in most states.

That is true for those with at least an Associate’s degree.

When you are just starting out in this career, or have little education and career experience, your salary will likely be closer to $30,000 a year.

With knowledge, hands-on experience, and certifications, an EKG Technician can make up to nearly $100,000 in some areas.

Larger states and those with higher populations typically offer higher salaries for EKG Technicians.

Job Growth Outlook: High

Job Growth Outlook

If you have an interest in becoming an EKG Technician, you shouldn’t worry about not being able to find employment.

Within the next decade, the career growth for an EKG Technician is close to 17 percent.

The reason for this growth is the steady advancements in technology, as well as the Baby Boomer population growing older.

The Baby Boomer population will create much more necessity for heart, vein, and other vascular imaging technology.

Certified and licensed EKG Technicians will be the most successful in this career.

Education Duration: 2-4 Years

Education Duration

The amount of education you should receive in order to work as an EKG Technician can vary, depending on where you work.

Some employers require at least an Associate’s degree to work as an EKG Technician, but others may only require a high school diploma.

Chances are that you will receive more opportunities with a bit of education, so don’t go in fresh out of high school.

Most Associate’s degrees can take about 2 years to finish, and the average Bachelor’s degree can last about 4 years.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

Working as an EKG Technician is an intricate occupation.

There are many things to pay attention to and focus on while giving tests to patients.

Some of the qualities that a great EKG Technician should possess include:

  • Communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Stamina
  • Computer skills
  • Technical skills
  • Empathy
  • Perseverance
  • Stamina
  • Medical knowledge
  • Compassion for others
  • A desire to help

This career may be emotional and also stressful for EKG Technicians as well as patients, so it’s important to have empathy and treat people with respect.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How much does an EKG Technician make?

With an Associate’s degree, the average salary for an EKG Technician is about $59,000 a year.

Earning a Bachelor’s degree and certification can lead to a salary of nearly $100,000 a year for some EKG Technicians.

When you are just stepping into this career, it is likely that you will make closer to $30,000 to begin.

Other factors that can determine the salary for an EKG Technician are the state where you work and the size of the facility.

Q. How long does it take to become an EKG Technician?

There are several paths that an EKG Technician can take when it comes to education.

Some people decide to enroll in a one-year certificate program.

Others choose to earn an Associate’s degree, which takes about two years to finish.

Then there are EKG Technicians who want to be at the top of their career, so they earn a Bachelor’s degree.

This type of degree takes about four years to finish.

It can take anywhere from 1 to 4 years to become an EKG Technician.

Q. What is the demand for EKG Technicians?

It seems that heart-health is becoming more common among Americans today.

That means that EKG Technicians shouldn’t worry about not being able to find jobs any time soon.

In fact, this career will grow about 17 percent over the next decade.

That is quite a bit more than many other careers in the medical field.

Q. What does an EKG Technician do?

An EKG Technician takes pictures of patients’ hearts and blood vessels with an EKG machine.

They are responsible for sanitizing, calibrating, and controlling the machine throughout every procedure.

They may also perform stress tests and other heart-related examinations in order to make sure patients are healthy.

An EKG Technician keeps in close contact with a medical team to keep patients safe.

Q. How much does it cost to become an EKG Technician?

The price to become an EKG Technician depends on how long you go to school.

Certificate programs can take about one year to finish, and cover the basics of being an EKG Technician which can run about $2,500.

An Associate’s degree takes nearly two years to complete and costs about $10,000.

A Bachelor’s degree is 4 years and costs $35,000 on average.

It can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $35,000 to become an EKG Technician.


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