It is important to note that many cardiology technicians, also known as EKG technicians, are trained on the job by cardiologists; however, EKG certificate programs are available and are often populated by students enrolling at an employer's request.
EKG Certificate Program
Physiology, biology and anatomy are general topics of study, but students also learn about common heart ailments, treatments and cardiovascular medical technologies. Candidates study basic anatomy, learn to operate EKG machines and prepare for board certification exams.
EKG technician programs are short and often consist of only one class. Common topics covered include the following:
- EKG procedures
- EKG machinery technical knowledge
- Human chest anatomy
- Lead placement
- Clinical practice
Associate's Degree in Cardiovascular Technology
Associate's degree programs in cardiovascular technology prepare students to work as cardiovascular technologists. Certificates are also available in this field and are often a part of associate's degree programs. The first year of these programs usually consists of general education requirements. The second year commonly trains students in one of three specialties: noninvasive cardiovascular technology, invasive cardiovascular technology or noninvasive vascular technology. Those specializing in invasive technologies can expect to spend time learning basic medical procedures, while those specializing in noninvasive technologies will focus on procedures using noninvasive instruments. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals (CAAHEP) accredits programs in this field.
While coursework can vary according to a student's specialty, some courses are common to most all programs. Students can expect to spend time both in the classroom and in laboratory settings. Here are some classes that might appear in the curriculum:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical ethics
- Health issues and transitions
- Healthcare delivery systems
- Blood-born pathogens
- EKG theory
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment rate for both cardiovascular technicians and technologists was predicted to increase much faster than average (www.bls.gov); it was expected to grow 22% during the 2014-2024 decade. The mean annual salary for cardiovascular technologists and technicians was $56,100 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.
Cardiologist technicians and technologists earn either certificates or associate's degrees depending on the position desired. Both of these programs involve a combination of coursework and hands-on experience.