Monitor technicians work with EKG waveforms to monitor a patient's heart status. The education requirements for this position can include only a high school diploma or may require completion of an EKG certificate program. The job growth outlook for this profession is much faster than the job market as a whole.
Monitor technicians, also known as cardiac monitor technicians or electrocardiograph (EKG) technicians, observe and interpret a patient's heart status in the hospital. For this entry-level position, educational requirements can vary based on employer. Certification is generally voluntary for these technicians. Candidates for this position should be comfortable studying EKG data for long stretches of time and analyzing data.
|Required Education||Varies from a high school diploma to EKG certificate|
|Optional Credentials||CPR certification; Industry certifications are recommended, but not necessary|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||22% (for cardiovascular technicians and technologists)*|
|Average Salary (2015)||$56,100 (for cardiovascular technicians and technologists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description for a Monitor Technician
Monitor technicians work in the intensive care unit (ICU) of hospitals. The technicians sit at several computer consoles viewing the EKG waveforms of the patient's heartbeat. If the technicians notice a disruption in the heartbeat, known as an arrhythmia, or any other cardiac changes, they immediately inform a physician or nurse.
Monitor technicians sit at a computer station outside the bedridden patient's room. This can last for at least an hour and duties include viewing the patient's heart rhythms and recording the findings in the patient's medical record, as well as monitoring as many as 10-30 patients per shift.
Technicians may also perform EKGs by attaching electrodes to the patient's chest, arms, and legs, using a machine that traces electrical impulses transmitted by the heart and prints out a reading. Job duties can also include maintaining and cleaning the EKG equipment, as well as following infectious control procedures by wearing gloves, gowns, and masks when around highly contagious patients.
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Educational Requirements for a Monitor Technician
Some employers hire individuals with a high school diploma and offer them on-the-job training, while others may require the completion of an EKG certificate program through a technical school. Coursework generally includes cardiac anatomy, medical terminology, patient care, EKG analysis, and medical law. Other requirements include completing a one-day cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course or basic life support course through the American Heart Association or American Red Cross.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for cardiovascular technicians or technologists, common job titles for monitor technicians, certification is not an standard industry requirement (www.bls.gov). The certification process typically includes completing an educational program and sitting for an exam, as well as acquiring Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to maintain certification. The Cardiovascular Credentialing International offers the Certified Rhythm Analysis Technician (CRAT) and Certified Cardiographic Technician (CCT) credentials, while the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians offers certification for EKG technicians. State licensure is not required to practice as a monitor technician.
Salary Information and Job Outlook
The employment of cardiovascular technologists and technicians is projected by the BLS (www.bls.gov) to grow by approximately 22% from 2014 to 2024, a rate faster than the average for all occupations. Cardiovascular technicians and technologists earned an average annual salary of $56,100 in May 2015, per the BLS. Those working in general medical and surgical hospitals earned an average of $55,350 the same year.
Employers may provide on-the-job training for monitor technicians, or they may require the completion a certificate or degree program. Certification typically includes completion of coursework and passing an exam, but certification is usually not required. State licensing is not required.