Electrocardiogram (ECG) Technician: Job Description, Duties and Outlook

Sep 16, 2019

Working as an electrocardiogram (ECG) technician requires little formal education. Learn about training, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

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Electrocardiogram technicians work with patients in medical settings to collect data about their heart rates and heart impulses. This profession requires a certificate or associate's degree.

Essential Information

Electrocardiogram (ECG) technicians use special equipment and medical techniques to record the electrical impulses transmitted by a patient's heart. Data acquired by electrocardiogram technicians assists physicians and cardiologists in diagnosing medical conditions in patients.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree in cardiovascular technology
Other Requirements Professional certifications are preferred; a few states require licensing, for which certification is often necessary
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 7% for all cardiovascular technologists and technicians*
Median Annual Salary (2018) $31,552 for ECG technicians**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Job Description

Electrocardiogram technicians generally are employed in hospitals, laboratories or cardiologists' offices. They typically work 40 hours a week, although occasional weekend work might be required as well. ECG technicians employed with laboratories tend to put in longer hours. Additionally, they might be required to be on call and come in at odd hours.

ECG technicians should expect to perform heavy lifting on a regular basis as they move patients and equipment. They also should be prepared to work with patients who are suffering or have serious heart conditions.

Job Duties

An electrocardiogram technician performs an ECG by attaching electrodes to a patient and then pulling switches on an ECG machine to trace electrical impulses transmitted by the heart. A doctor then inspects these readings to analyze the patient's heart condition.

ECG technicians also might perform stress tests. This involves hooking up a patient to an ECG monitor for a baseline reading and then monitoring the patient's heart while he or she exercises on a treadmill. During the monitoring period, the treadmill speeds up and slows down to produce ECG readings at multiple levels of physical exertion.

With advanced training, ECG technicians can administer Holter monitoring tests. With this procedure, the technician attaches an ECG monitor to a patient, then allows the patient to go about his or her normal routine for a 24-hour period. Next, the electrocardiogram technician removes the monitor and takes it to a scanner, from which he or she can print out the data recorded by the machine.

Job Outlook

Career opportunities for cardiovascular technologists and technicians in general are expected to grow as fast as the average through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Among ECG technicians, job prospects are forecast to be best for those trained in a variety of procedural areas (www.bls.gov). Multiple professional certifications could also prove beneficial.

Cardiovascular technicians need a certificate or associate's degree in cardiovascular technology. They must receive licensing in some states, and certification is available and sometimes preferred or required. The job outlook for this profession is much faster than the market.

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