What it Takes to Become an EKG Technician in Pennsylvania

Healthcare requires far more than doctors and nurses. In this era, diagnostics and treatment depend on the skilled use of advanced technology. An EKG technician conducts and analyzes the results of heart health tests using an electrocardiograph, a machine that measures the electrical currents generated by the human heart. This skilled and valuable role is crucial in the diagnosis of heart problems, particularly given our rapidly aging population.

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Requirements for Becoming an EKG Technician in Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania does not in itself certify EKG technicians, but nearly all employers will be looking for a nationally recognized certification offered by an organization like the National Healthcareer Association, the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians or the National Center for Competency Testing. These certifications require an examination and for applicants to have undertaken a properly registered training course including clinical experience. Prospective students must be 18 or older, reasonably physically fit and have a high school or general equivalency diploma.

Alternatively, certifying bodies can accept proof of work experience in the field, appropriately supervised by doctors, nurses and experienced technicians. At minimum, all applicants must have performed 10 EKG tests on live patients before they can take the exam.

As in many healthcare fields, successful job applicants are likely to be required to undergo drug testing and a background check before starting work.

Training Programs for EKG Technicians in Pennsylvania

As EKG technicians are required in many healthcare settings, training programs are available throughout the state. Here are a few examples:

  • Penn State University’s Hazleton campus offers a 50-hour program for EKG technician training. The program includes classroom teaching on anatomy, the interpretation of results and other essential topics. It also includes clinical experience and prepares students to take national certification exams.
  • Bucks College in Newtown, Pennsylvania, offers a 73-hour program. Classes are in the evening and online. The course prepares students for the NHA exam and also includes the hands-on experience required before taking the exam.
  • Community College of Philadelphia offers an EKG program that prepares students for the National Workforce Career Association exam for Certified EKG Technicians and includes practical and classroom learning. It also connects students with externships and assists with career placement.

Certification for EKG Technicians in Pennsylvania

While there is not any state level certification, employers tend to require hires to possess one of the nationally recognized certifications as described above. Certification exams and registrations carry a small fee, but your training course may include the cost of certification. You can also undertake specialist EKG training such as Holter monitor testing, which can make you more attractive to employers.

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations

EKG technicians are in demand. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs in the field is expected to grow by 12 percent nationally, a rate that is much faster than average job growth.

In Pennsylvania, a starting hourly wage for an EKG technician is around $15, with a mean hourly wage at about $28. The mean annual salary is $56,800.

Working as an EKG Technician in Pennsylvania

As an EKG technician, you will be doing far more than operating a machine. Your people skills are a crucial part of the job, as you will be working with all types of people, including some who are extremely unwell. Discretion in handling patient data and adherence to rigorous standards to minimize infection risks are also extremely important. EKG technicians can find work in doctor’s offices, hospitals and even prisons or nursing homes. If you’re interested, major job websites like Monster, ZipRecruiter and Indeed are great places to explore available opportunities.