How to Become an EKG Technician in Rhode Island
Electrocardiography is the process of measuring heart health by using an electrocardiograph machine (EKG) to analyze the electrical currents that the living heart gives off with every beat. An EKG technician is a specialist who works with doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers to conduct and interpret these tests. They are an important tool in the diagnosis of heart-related illnesses.
Requirements for Becoming an EKG Technician in Rhode Island
Rhode Island itself does not register EKG technicians, but almost all facilities that employ them require a professional certification from a national body such as the National Healthcareer Association (NHA), the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians or the National Center for Competency Testing. In turn, these certifications require proof of completion of an accredited training course or a year’s work under appropriate supervision, plus proof of having conducted 10 EKG exams on live patients. Training courses require that students have a high school or GED in order to enroll. Additionally, the work experience requirement for these courses usually itself requires a background check and drug testing, as this hands-on training often occurs in a clinical setting.
Training Courses for EKG technicians in Rhode Island
Good training courses cover the technical aspects of EKG exams as well as infection control and handling sensitive patient data. Here are a few examples:
- 911 Programs Career Training Institute offers a training program based in Warwick, RI. The 12-week program meets two or three times a week in the evenings. Alongside education in EKG testing and interpretation, patients also learn first aid, healthcare terminology and the legal aspects of working with confidential patient information. The course prepares students for the NHA exam and includes the practical experience required to take the exam.
- Healthcare Training Services is based in Fall River, Massachusetts, across the state line from Rhode Island. Their training course consists of 48 hours of classroom instruction and coordinated externships to obtain clinical experience. The program is eligible for grant-based financial assistance from a variety of state and private sources, and qualifies students to take a national certification exam. The school also helps students find jobs after graduation.
- The National EMS Institute offers a certified EKG technician course in East Providence. The 64-hour course meets in the evenings. It includes practical and classroom training and qualifies students to sit for a national certification exam upon completion. It also teaches specialized EKG skills like stress testing and Holter monitoring.
Certifications for EKG technicians in Rhode Island
Although the state takes no role in evaluating EKG technicians, certifications are an almost universal requirement by employers. While the NHA certification is most widely known, any of the reputable certifications will be recognized. Becoming competent in more advanced EKG skills like Holter monitoring or stress testing makes applicants more desirable to employers. Additionally, many training institutions offer continuing education, which allows working EKG technicians to learn about new developments in the field. Certification, and required examinations, generally carries a small fee, which is sometimes covered in the cost of a training course.
Job Outlook and Salary Expectations
EKG exams are often required before any surgical procedure, so our aging population means that EKG technicians are in demand across the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), by 2029 the number of jobs in this field will grow by 12 percent nationwide, which is much faster than average job growth across all occupations.
In Rhode Island, according to the BLS, the average hourly wage for EKG techs is $37.80, with an average annual salary of $78,620.
Working as an EKG Technician in Rhode Island
EKG technicians can find positions anywhere where healthcare diagnostics take place—hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices and even large institutions with in-house healthcare such nursing homes and prisons. Working conditions can be rigorous, including evening and weekend work, but hard-working and experienced technicians can find meaningful and secure employment.