Schools for Aspiring Monitor Technicians: How to Choose

Dec 08, 2019

Colleges and universities across the U.S. train aspiring monitor technicians to operate electrocardiograph (EKG or ECG) machines, which record patients' heartbeats. Read on to learn more about the programs available to monitor technicians.

Monitor technicians, also known as EKG or cardiovascular technicians, interpret cardiac monitors and relay the information to a registered nurse or physician. Technicians specialize in invasive, non-invasive or vascular technology. Monitor technicians in all fields must be able to identify abnormal heartbeats and maintain the technology skills that can be learned through cardiovascular technician certificate and degree programs.

Schools with Cardiovascular Technology Programs

The following schools offer programs for aspiring cardiovascular technicians:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)*
Arkansas Tech University Russellville, AR 4-year, Public Associate $7,254 in-state, $12,678 out-of-state
Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private Bachelor's $40,651
Clemson University Clemson, SC 4-year, Public Bachelor's $15,374 in-state, $37,128 out-of-state
University of South Carolina Columbia, SC 4-year, Public Bachelor's $12,618 in-state, $33,298 out-of-state
Oklahoma State University at Oklahoma City Oklahoma City, OK 4-year, Public Associate $4,498 in-state, $10,594 out-of-state
Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN 4-year, Private not-for-profit Certificate $49,816
Piedmont Technical College Greenwood, SC 2-year, Public Associate, Certificate $4,421 in-district, $5,165 in-state, $6,413 out-of-state
Hudson Valley Community College Troy, NY 2-year, Public Associate $5,812 in-state, $13,087 out-of-state

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

These are some important considerations for prospective students trying to choose a school:

  • When deciding between schools, students may want to look for programs that include training beyond EKG operation, such as Holter monitoring, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and stress testing.
  • Aspiring technicians may also look for programs that prepare students for the CCT (Certified Cardiovascular Technician) certification exam.
  • Students may try to find programs that include clinical field experiences in hospitals or medical centers, allowing students to gain familiarity with the work environment while still in school.

Certificate in Cardiovascular Technology

Certificate programs vary in length; however, most can be completed in one year. These programs focus only on core cardiovascular topics generally excluding general education coursework.

Associate Degree in Cardiovascular Technology

Some associate degree programs offer areas of emphasis, including noninvasive and invasive cardiovascular technology. Because technicians aid physicians in treating heart disease, topics include coronary anatomy and disease mechanisms. EKG interpretation requires proficiency in math; those enrolled in an associate degree program may consider taking general education electives in math.

Bachelor's Degree in Cardiovascular Technology

Students in a bachelor's degree program in cardiovascular technology may spend the entire last year of the program in an internship, preparing for the national licensing exam and gaining valuable work experience. The role of the cardiovascular technician can range from monitoring the EKG machine to analyzing data and performing diagnostic procedures. Those with experience and a bachelor's degree may be qualified for more demanding tasks.

Accredited certificate and undergraduate degree programs can provide training for aspiring monitor technicians. Over the course of a program, students may gain real-world experience in the field, and they may learn about related concepts and technologies in addition to heart monitors.

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