Close up of African-American medical professional

How to Become an EKG Technician

Duties, Responsibilities, Schooling, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

Close up of African-American medical professional

Did you know that by earning your Medical Assistant (MA) diploma, you can pursue a growing variety of healthcare career opportunities? Once you’ve earned your degree, you’ll be well-prepared to work in an array of healthcare-related fields based on the knowledge and skills you gained while completing your MA education and training.

An EKG technician is one of the most widely available alternative jobs you can apply for as an MA. For Medical Assistants looking to start in this field—or advance their current Medical Assisting careers- becoming an EKG technician can be rewarding. Not only will it allow you to gain experience in the world of healthcare, but becoming an EKG technician can provide a steady source of income for years to come.

Read on for an in-depth look at the skills involved in being an EKG technician, along with the educational requirements, salary*, and job outlook for this critical position.

Not sure if becoming an EKG technician is for you? Click here to see the rest of the careers featured on our list of alternative jobs for Medical Assistants.

EKG Technician Definition

What is an EKG Technician?

EKG technicians play a critical role in diagnosing and treating patients’ heart conditions. They operate the equipment to measure, monitor, and display traces illustrating the heart’s electrical activity. Physicians then use the electrocardiograph data collected by the EKG technician to diagnose and monitor a patient’s heart condition.

EKG Technician: Job Description

What Does an EKG Technician Do?

EKG technicians support physicians as they work to identify and treat any number of cardiovascular conditions. EKG technicians can be called upon to complete many tasks that involve interacting with a patient, working behind the scenes, and directly supporting the physician. They perform diagnostic and stress tests utilizing highly specialized equipment. With such a diverse list of responsibilities, it’s vital that an EKG technician is organized, technically proficient, caring, empathetic, and an excellent communicator.

EKG Technician Duties

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of EKG Technicians include:

  • Asking patients about their medical histories
  • Preparing patients for their procedures
  • Ensuring the equipment is in good operating order
  • Attaching sensors and electrodes to a patient’s arms, legs, and chest
  • Administering EKG tests
  • Verifying the quality of test data
  • Reporting findings back to the physician

Where Do EKG Technicians Work?

EKG technicians typically work in healthcare facilities that require the monitoring of a patient’s cardiovascular activity, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Surgical centers
  • Cardiologists’ offices
  • General practitioners’ offices
  • Outpatient facilities

Skilled and senior EKG technicians may also work exclusively as cardiovascular technologists or perform EKG readings as part of their duties as a PRN, medical assistant, or other healthcare roles.

Medical students looking at a laptop

EKG Technician Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become an EKG Technician?

What Certification Do You Need to Be an EKG Technician?

Any Medical Assistants interested in expanding their career and becoming an EKG technician will find the process relatively straightforward. Becoming an EKG technician typically requires either job experience or certification. In certain circumstances, an employer will train an existing employee to become an EKG technician. In fact, much of an EKG technician’s training will be provided by the employer. Such on-the-job training programs can take between four to six weeks to complete.

Many employers require professional certification for their EKG technicians. Certification will help make finding a position significantly easier. If obtaining certification is required, Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) offers several cardiovascular certifications, including Certified Cardiographic Technician, which includes EKG/ECG, stress testing, and Holter testing.

Why is EKG Technician a Great Alternative Career Path for Medical Assistants?

Those with a Medical Assistant diploma make excellent candidates for EKG technician. For starters, their education and training provide them with a solid understanding of the many medical conditions monitored with an EKG machine. Understandably, patients undergoing an EKG can be under a fair deal of stress, so the skilled hands and knowledgeable demeanor of an E KG technician with Medical Assisting training will go a long way to put those patients at ease.

Becoming an EKG technician is an outstanding career alternative for Medical Assistants looking to point their healthcare career toward a more specialized field. Other reasons to choose a career as an EKG technician are:

  • An excellent job outlook.
  • Opportunities for career advancement.
  • The widespread availability of both full-time and part-time jobs.

Moreover, an EKG certification can make you more hirable if you pursue other career paths within healthcare.

EKG Technician Salary

How Much Do EKG Technicians Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary* for a cardiovascular technician is about $62,000, which works out to be just under $30 per hour. Salaries for cardiovascular technicians in the 90th percentile can reach as high as $98,000 or more.

Highest Paying Industries for EKG Technicians

The BLS also reports that the following industries are where you’re most likely to find the top-paying jobs for cardiovascular technicians:

Industry Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Outpatient Care Centers $42.39 $88,170
Home Health Care Services $42.04 $87,440
Scientific Research and Development Services $38.58 $80,240
Offices of Other Health Practitioners $36.94 $76,840
Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories $34.82 $72,420

Highest Paying States for EKG Technicians

The latest BLS research shows that cardiovascular technicians earn the highest average wages in these states:

State Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Rhode Island $40.98 $85,240
Alaska $40.25 $83,720
Washington, D.C. $39.73 $82,630
Oregon $39.44 $82,040
New Jersey $38.79 $80,690

Highest Paying Cities for EKG Technicians

According to the BLS, cardiovascular technicians earn the highest average annual wage in these cities:

City Mean Hourly Pay Mean Salary
Oxnard, CA $47.66 $99,130
Vallejo, CA $45.39 $94,400
Santa Rosa, CA $44.30 $92,140
San Francisco, CA $43.08 $89,600
Salinas, CA $43.05 $89,550
Sacramento, CA $42.83 $89,090
Anchorage, AK $41.82 $86,990
San Jose, CA $41.76 $86,860
Bakersfield, CA $40.98 $85,240
Salem, OR $40.34 $83,910

EKG reading with a stethoscope

EKG Technician Job Outlook

What is the Job Outlook for EKG Technicians?

The BLS estimates that the overall employment of cardiovascular technicians will grow 10% by 2031, expanding faster than the average growth rate across all other jobs during the same period (5%). Recently, Yahoo Finance listed EKG Technician as one of its top 10 recession-proof jobs for 2023.

The aging of America’s Baby Boomer population will likely generate a greater need for EKG technicians for some time to come. Plus, the use of EKG machines provides an alternative to diagnostic techniques that involve radiation.

Start Your Career by Earning Your Medical Assistant Diploma

If you’re seeking a rewarding career in healthcare, enjoy working directly with patients, and have a role projected to be in great demand for the next decade, becoming an EKG technician could be a great career path for you.

If you’re ready to become an EKG technician, you can start by earning your Medical Assistant diploma in as little as nine months at Eagle Gate College.

Learn more about the convenience of our blended (online & in-person) Medical Assistant program.