How to Become an EKG Technician in California
EKG technicians form a vital part of the healthcare system, as they are the primary providers who perform the testing to diagnose and monitor cardiac conditions. An EKG test is performed by applying electrodes to the chest, arms and legs of the patient, which sense the electrical activity in the heart over several heartbeats. The test provides a visual tracing that can be read by a doctor or trained provider to identify a heart attack or harmful arrhythmia.
Working as an EKG technician can require a great deal of physical stamina, as they often need to move between patient wards or rooms to provide testing. The job may require working off-shift hours, weekends and holidays, especially in a hospital setting.
A compassionate and friendly demeanor is a necessity in any healthcare field, as it is common to work with patients who are anxious about the testing being performed and the medical problems they are facing. EKG technicians often need to perform testing emergently, making the work potentially stressful.
EKG technicians are not required to procure a license in the state of California. However, a lack of statewide oversight does not mean that technicians don’t have stringent regulations to meet. In fact, healthcare organizations need to follow strict guidelines at all times to remain certified by various agencies. Technicians will need to adhere to the practice guidelines used in the organization in which they are employed.
Training for EKG Technicians in California
Prior to training as an EKG technician, you will need to have earned a high school diploma or equivalent. Then, post-secondary training in the field is generally accomplished in one of two ways. Traditionally, EKG technicians entered the field through another allied health profession and were promoted and trained on the job. However, modern EKG technicians often seek training through a technical program. A few possibilities for training in California include:
- City College of San Francisco offers a two-year degree program for Cardiovascular/Echo Technician. Students will learn cardiac ultrasound, anatomy and physiology, advanced rhythm interpretation and exercise stress testing.
- Grossmont College offers an Associate in Science in Cardiovascular Technology. Students will acquire skills through classroom learning and a hands-on practicum.
- Orange Coast College offers an Associate in Science degree in Cardiovascular Technology. The program includes the classroom and clinical experience necessary to begin a career as a cardiovascular technician.
Although there is no legal requirement to acquire certification as an EKG technician, it is worth consideration as a potentially career-boosting move. Since different organizations offer accreditations and varying types of credentials you can earn, it will be essential to research which certifications will best help you meet your career goals.
Salaries and Career Growth in California
California is among the top five states for salaries in the nation. According to theBureau of Labor Statistics(BLS), EKG technicians in the state made an average annual wage of $76,630 in 2019, with a range between $39,780 and $123,530. Entry-level technicians should expect salaries at the lower end of the spectrum, with the ability to move up the scale with training and experience.
Job growth projections for the profession in California are also higher than average, withProjections Central predicting a 16 percent growth between 2018 and 2028.
EKG technicians find work in many situations, from hospitals to physicians’ offices and various types of clinics. In California, potential employers include PIH Health, Alvardo Hospital Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Sharpe Health Care and Los Alamitos Medical Center. Regardless of where you choose to work, becoming an EKG technician can lead to a rewarding and lucrative career.