Monitor Technician: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Dec 19, 2019

What Is a Monitor Tech?

A monitor tech, more formally known as a monitor technician or cardiac monitor technician, assists nurses and physicians with interpreting and diagnosing conditions related to the heart through various methods of monitoring and testing. Monitor technicians can have several titles depending on their job classification. They can be referred to as electrocardiograph (EKG or ECG), cardiographic, telemetry, and rhythm analysis technicians.

Career Title Monitor Technician
Education High school diploma, optional EKG certificate program
Training On-the-job training available
Certification optional EKG certification
Average Salary (2019)** $30,113 (for cardiac monitor technicians)
Job Outlook (2018-2028)* 7% (for cardiovascular technologists and technicians)

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

What Does a Monitor Tech Do?

Monitor technicians work in hospitals and other medical care centers that provide treatment relating to heart health. Most of their work involves using machines and other medical technology to keep track of patients' heart performance and check for any abnormalities, such as irregular heartbeats, arrhythmias, and cardiac arrest. They also use this technology to perform various tests on the heart. A couple of examples are an EKG test, where electrodes are hooked up to a patient's body, and a stress test, where a patient walks on a gradually increasing treadmill.

Monitor technicians typically do not provide treatment of any kind, but they do have to interpret test results and must report them to a nurse or physician. However, even if they are not tasked with treating patients, their job can sometimes be stressful when patients are in a crisis, so monitor techs must be able to remain calm and think analytically.

In addition to administering tests, monitor techs create and update patient charts as needed. Some positions require monitor techs to perform clerical duties, such as assisting with admission and discharge, answering phones, and taking messages. Monitor techs are often on their feet for long periods of time and may need to lift patients or change their positions.

Monitor Tech Requirements

Although their job is part of the medical field, monitor technicians don't need extensive education and training. The minimum education requirement is a high school diploma or equivalent, and, depending on the employer, techs may only need to take 1 or 2 classes after being hired. However, formal training can result in certification and improve job prospects.

Monitor Tech Education and Training

While some employers provide on-the-job training or may only require a class or two, formal education is often preferred and can give an individual the necessary skills and hands-on experience. The most common type of monitor technician education is an EKG certificate or diploma program.

EKG technician certificate programs can last anywhere from 5 to 10 weeks. Students learn anatomy and physiology of the heart and cardiovascular system, medical terminology, EKG analysis and interpretation, and patient safety, among other things.

EKG associate's degrees are rare, but some schools offer them combined with another program. For example, an EKG program and a phlebotomy program can be combined into one associate's degree where students will learn how to be monitor technicians and phlebotomists. Additionally, some employers prefer candidates to be a licensed paramedic or nursing student with EKG training, so another option could be to pursue paramedic training or a registered nursing program.

Monitor Tech Certification

Many positions require monitor technicians to have CPR certification. CPR certification can be obtained by taking a class that lasts only a few hours. Classes are offered in-person and online, depending on the organization that offers them.

Although not required, monitor technician certification is available. Many formal education programs result in certification, but it can also be gained independently through organizations such as the American Medical Certification Association (AMCA). Certification through the AMCA requires the passing of an exam, and exam candidates need to either have completed a training program or have at least one year of monitor technician work experience.

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