– Explore what you need to know to get started in this high-demand allied health field, from education to certification –
Deciding to become an EKG technician gives you an opportunity to contribute to the health and well-being of people who need critical patient care services. While doctors diagnose and provide hands-on patient assessments, EKG technicians run prescribed tests, operate equipment, and interact with patients on a daily basis.
All EKG technicians must go through a specific set of educational requirements to be qualified to work in the field. Let’s take a look at how to become an electrocardiogram (EKG) technician including training and national certification.
What do EKG Technicians Do?
Electrocardiography, or EKG, technicians administer a variety of monitoring tests to help physicians evaluate patient health for heart-related issues. This requires a thorough understanding of patient anatomy as well as technical instruments to be able to run tests with accuracy and efficiency.
EKG technicians can work in hospitals, inpatient or acute care facilities, and even long-term care facilities. The job often requires patient interaction, a lot of standing, and precise note taking and organization. You may also need a lot of patience as you deal with people from all walks of life with a variety of health conditions. And while getting an EKG is painless, many patients may need the procedure explained to them as it can look intimidating.
EKG technicians are trained to place electrode patches on patients in specific places that monitor heart rhythm throughout the body. Connected to the main monitor, the electrocardiogram captures and documents the patient’s cardiovascular health to help doctor’s make or update a diagnosis. While EKG technicians are not trained to read the results or share a diagnosis with a patient, they are responsible for making sure all equipment is operating correctly and that the readouts are accurate.
Is ECG the Same as EKG?
Yes, while these are two different acronyms, they refer to the same device. You’ll most commonly see the abbreviation EKG used, but EKG and ECG are interchangeable. An electrocardiograph captures the electric impulses created by the heart and maps them out visually to identify abnormal rhythms, blockages, or other damage.
How to Become an EKG Technician: Education Requirements
Aspiring EKG technicians start out by attending a training program. To enroll, you’ll need at least a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent. In class, everyone learns how to operate an electrocardiograph device, but there’s much more to the field of study.
Students learn how to work alongside other healthcare providers, including doctors and nurses, and the bounds of what they can or cannot say to patients about the process or results. EKG technician students also learn basic anatomy and physiology with a concentration on the cardiovascular system, the heart, arteries, and veins that keep oxygen-rich blood flowing.
A typical EKG technician training program can last between 4-6 months. Some schools offer full-time and part-time class options to help you work around your existing schedule. Most programs also offer hands-on training so students can get comfortable working with patients and peers.
At the end of the training program, students receive a certificate of completion. They can use this to show a potential employer and gain a new job in the field.
How to Become an EKG Technician: National Certification
While completing an EKG technician training program is a requirement, many employers also look for an extra level of skills verification. This comes in the form of national certification.
With your training certificate in hand, you can sit for a national certification exam. These are designed and proctored by a third party to test your knowledge and confirm your comprehension of critical topics. With a passing grade, you’ll receive a certification that you can present to employers as further proof of your ability to work as an EKG technician.
Explore EKG National Certification with ASET
The American Society of Electrocardiogram Technicians (ASET) provides online study materials, practice tests, and final exam proctoring for the EKG technician national exam. Anyone who has completed an EKG technician training program can get started with ASET. Study guides are designed to help refresh you on your classroom and hands-on practice, and you can track which questions you get right (or wrong) to figure out what you need to focus on.
All ASET members get three final exam attempts included at no additional cost. You can take the test whenever you’re ready, wherever you are, without the need to travel to a testing center. Once you pass the exam, you’re immediately issued digital proof of certification that you can send to an employer or attach to your resume. You’ll also get a digital ID card with a QR code that can be used to verify your credentials in the National Registry.
Ready to Become a Nationally Certified EKG Technician?
Register with ASET for your CET certification today. ASET offers national Certified EKG Technician (CET) Certification for individuals ready to stand out from others in this growing field.