How to Become an EKG Technician in Washington
The science of heart medicine relies on electrocardiography, an allied health discipline focusing on the measurement and interpretation of electrical signals generated by the beating heart. Working with doctors and nurses, EKG technicians use electrical pads connected to an electrocardiograph (EKG) machine to capture the heart’s rhythm. This skilled and valuable role is in demand throughout the country, including in the state of Washington.
Requirements for EKG Technicians in Washington
Washington’s Department of Licensing does not regulate EKG technicians, but employers almost always require certification by one of the private, nationwide certifying bodies such as the National Healthcareer Association (NHA), the National Center for Competency Testing and the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians.
To be certified, you’ll need to take an exam after undertaking an accredited training course or having completed a year’s appropriately supervised work experience in the field. You’ll also need to have performed at least 10 EKG tests on live patients. To enroll in a course, you need to have earned a high school or GED. As the work experience requirement for these courses often involves working in a real clinical setting, you may be required to pass a drug screening and to undergo a criminal background check in order to enroll.
Training Programs for EKG Technicians in Washington
Training programs are available across the state as well as online. Here are a few examples:
- Edmonds College is based in Lynnwood and offers a thorough college-based training program that takes students through prerequisites including anatomy and physiology and first aid as well as the main work of an EKG technician. After the required prerequisites are met, the program can be completed in one academic quarter. Financial aid is available, and the program also includes 40 hours of clinical externship experience, qualifying students to take a national certification exam.
- Seattle Central College offers a course involving a combination of in-person and online training, to be completed in anywhere from one to four months, depending on how much time you have available. The course prepares students to take the NHA exam and assists students with finding work placements to perform the 10 EKG tests required to register for the exam.
- Northwest Phlebotomy School, with locations in Spokane and Seattle, offers a 10-hour EKG course that will prepare you to take a national certification exam. The course is undertaken online with two days in-person, where you will perform real EKG tests on live patients.
Certification for EKG Technicians in Washington
Nearly all employers that hire EKG technicians require applicants to have completed one of the national certification exams. These exams, and certification itself, generally carry a small fee, but in some cases your training course may include payment of this fee. It’s also advantageous to be trained in some EKG specialties like stress testing and Holter monitoring, and to undertake regular continuing education, which will keep you up-to-date with the latest clinical and technological developments.
Job Outlook and Salary Expectations
All allied health positions are undergoing a job boom as our population ages and requires more healthcare. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2029 the number of jobs for EKG technicians and similar roles will increase by 12 percent across the country.
In Washington, the average hourly wage is $30.93 for EKG techs, while the average annual salary is $64,330.
Working as an EKG Technician in Washington
As one might expect, EKG technicians are in demand in hospitals and doctors’ offices, but anywhere that does in-house medical testing, like nursing homes or prisons, might have a need for their services. While the hours can be long and can often involve evening and weekend work, hard-working and meticulous technicians can find good compensation and job security. If you’re ready to apply for available roles, job websites like Indeed, Monster and ZipRecruiter are good places to start.
Becoming an EKG Technician in Wisconsin
An EKG technician is a vital part of medical teams in hospitals and physician offices. They run a test called an electrocardiogram, or EKG, that doctors use to monitor the functioning of a patient’s heart. An EKG tech takes the patient into the exam room, connects the leads for the EKG, runs the test and then looks at the results to see if the test should be run again.
In Wisconsin, EKG techs work as unlicensed medical professionals under the supervision of nurses and doctors. Getting into this career is easy and fast. As a trained EKG technician, you will get to work with patients, and you’ll enjoy a good salary and a strong job market.