How to Become an EKG Technician in Illinois

If you enjoy working with people and want to take advantage of job growth in healthcare, consider becoming an EKG technician. Without a college degree, you can enjoy job security and a great salary while working as an integral part of medical teams.

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EKG techs perform electrocardiograms, tests of heart function. They take patients in, set up and run the test, and look at the results to make sure the test worked correctly. EKGs provide doctors and nurses with essential information that helps diagnose and treat patients. In Illinois, becoming an EKG tech is as simple as completing a short training program.

Illinois EKG Technician Requirements

Illinois considers EKG technicians to be unlicensed medical professionals. This means they do not need to have any specific degree, certification or license to practice. The work of EKG technicians is directly supervised by licensed healthcare workers, usually nurses.

Many employers have requirements for hiring EKG techs. At a minimum you will need to have a high school diploma or GED. Some hospitals or other employers also prefer to hire new techs who have completed a short training program, usually no more than a couple of months. Others will train techs on the job.

EKG Tech Programs in Illinois

While there are no strict requirements for being hired as an EKG technician in Illinois, you will enjoy better job prospects if you complete a training program first. It shows employers that you are serious about the career and have the necessary skills to do entry-level work. You can find several EKG programs throughout Illinois including:

  • Chicago School of Phlebotomy. Just outside of Chicago in Naperville, the School of Phlebotomy offers a six-week EKG program where you’ll learn in a classroom setting and practice skills in a lab.
  • Oakton Community College. This school has two campuses, in Des Plaines and Skokie, and an eight-week EKG program. It is designed to prepare you for a job in EKG technology and to pass a certification exam.
  • Triton College. This program in River Grove takes about two months to complete and includes in-person classes and labs two nights per week. Upon graduation you should be able to pass the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) certification exam.
  • Lincoln Land Community College. This program in Springfield also prepares graduates for the NHA exam. The course includes 40 hours of instruction as well as online reading and simulations. Students also get to perform 10 real-world EKG tests in a local hospital.

National Certification Programs

Certification is not required for EKG technicians in Illinois, but it’s a good way to show potential employers that you have been trained. Any good program in EKG will prepare you to pass one of the certification exams that is widely recognized.

One of these is the NHA Certified EKG Technician (CET) exam. In order to qualify for the CET exam, you must have completed high school and finished an EKG training program or have one year of work experience performing at least 10 EKGs.

The American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians (ASPT) also offers a certification. The qualifications to take the exam are similar to those set by the NHA. Additionally, you must have a verification letter from an instructor or employer and proof of an EKG you have run for a patient.

Salary Expectations and Job Growth for EKG Technicians

Growth in jobs for EKG techs across the U.S. is high. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that growth is much stronger than average job growth, at 12 percent. According to Projections Central, growth in Illinois is keeping up with the national rate, at nearly 10 percent.

The BLS reports an annual average salary of $68,750 for EKG technicians and similar careers. In Illinois, the average salary is $54,370.

EKG Jobs in Illinois

Demand is high for qualified EKG technicians, so finding a job anywhere in the state should not be difficult. Hospitals are the main employers, but EKG techs also work in physician offices, specialist offices and medical and diagnostic laboratories.

Some examples of recent listings for EKG technicians in Illinois include: EKG technician, rotating at the University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago; EKG tech at Fusion Medical Staffing, Peoria; EKG technician at CGH Medical Center, Sterling; and cardiology technician at Northwestern Medicine, Chicago.