Students in an EKG certificate program study heart-related medical terminology, ethics, anatomy, disease processes, physiology, laws and lab work. Students also learn basic and portable EKG testing, along with lead placement and stress tests. Due to the clinical requirements, EKG certificate programs cannot be offered totally online, but some courses, such as medical terminology and anatomy, may be offered through distance learning.
These programs also prepare students to take national certification exams. Certification of EKG technicians is voluntary, but it's usually required by employers. After completion of an accredited EKG certificate program, students are eligible to take a certification exam offered through Cardiovascular Credentialing International or the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.
Usually there are no prerequisites to entry an EKG certificate program, but some schools require drug screening prior to entry. Programs are usually offered by a school's health and science department and award a certificate of completion.
Information and Requirements
Most of these certificate programs consist of one class consisting of approximately 50 hours of study. Others include four classes and 10.5 credit hours that take one full-time semester to complete. All programs include hands-on EKG machine training that must be completed at the school or an affiliated hospital, clinic or physician's office.
These programs include coursework in EKG functions, terminology, analysis, testing and interpretation. Some programs also include training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic keyboarding skills.
Anatomy and Physiology
This class helps students learn the structures that make up the human body and their functions. Students will learn medical terminology that will help them to work effectively in a hospital or other healthcare environment.
This class covers EKG procedures and theory. Stress testing, 12-lead placement and Holter Monitoring, a portable EKG that records activity for 24-48 hours are also covered. Heart and blood vessel diseases, irregularities and disorders are examined.
Health Professional CPR
Participants in this course learn to perform one and two-rescuer CPR on adults, infants and children. The use of an automated extended defibrillator (AED), resuscitation mask and the Heimlich maneuver are also covered.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of cardiovascular technologists and technicians was expected to grow by 22% between 2014 and 2024; however, due to basic EKG procedure training being offered to other medical employees, fewer EKG technicians may be needed (www.bls.gov). The median salary for cardiovascular technologists and technicians was $54,880 in 2015.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
For further education, associate's degree programs are available to EKG technicians. These are typically in X-ray studies or combined with other healthcare subjects, such as phlebotomy. Bachelor's degree programs are also becoming more commonly available in combination with other health science disciplines.
Relatively short in length, EKG certificate programs may offer some course work online but require in-person clinical training as well. Although it's optional, certification as an EKG technician is often required by employers.