Congratulations on deciding to explore one of the most rewarding professions in healthcare! A career as a technician will provide you with the opportunity to have a dramatic impact on the health and well-being of the people who you care for. If you are the type of person who is enthusiastic about helping others, then you will likely experience success in this field. As you will come to find out, the number of career advancement options available to a specialist technician are numerous and are expected to increase in the coming years.
Heart Disease in the United States
Heart disease has become one of the biggest health issues in the United States today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 600,000 people die each year from some form of heart disease. These statistics are both alarming and informative. As more people enter their senior years, it is anticipated that the healthcare system will continue to experience an influx of diet and exercise related illnesses. In order to handle the increase in demand for cardiac medical services, healthcare establishments will need to recruit more technicians. One of the most effective ways of accomplishing this is through an increased EKG technician salary.
The most common conditions that result in cardiovascular disease include diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, alcohol abuse, and smoking. One of the ways that individuals can reduce their risk of developing heart disease is to take measures to detect cardiac abnormalities before they cause a heart attack or stroke. Getting an electrocardiogram (EKG) examination early can help healthcare professionals assess whether or not an individual is at risk of developing heart disease. The technician plays an important role in the administration of this exam and is often responsible for educating patients on additional steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of a traumatic illness. As heart disease becomes more of a burden on the healthcare system, it would be reasonable to assume that the EKG technician salary will continue to increase along with the need for expanded medical care.
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What is an EKG Technician?
A technician, in this specialty, is someone who is responsible for a wide variety of tasks including the administration of the electrocardiogram (EKG) exam. While a technician may spend much of their time performing these exams, most employers prefer to hire individuals who have the skills necessary to assist in many areas of cardiovascular care. An individual who has been trained to assist with specialized imaging and invasive procedures may be referred to as a cardiovascular technologist. A technician who is able to prepare patients for procedures, maintain imaging equipment, collect and evaluate images, assist with procedures, and document in charts will find that their employment options are more plentiful. In addition, individuals who have completed advanced training and certification will find that they are better able to command a higher EKG technician salary regardless of where they work.
EKG Technician Job Description
The responsibilities included in the technician job description will sometimes vary depending on the organization where an individual works and the regulations that exist within the state. Technicians who are primarily responsible for the administration of the electrocardiogram (EKG) exam will need to situate electrodes on the patient’s chest, arms, and maybe even the legs. The technician will then need to be able to operate the exam equipment and instruct the patient on what to do as the exam is being performed and after it is completed.
A technician may also be expected to perform the following tasks:
- Monitor blood pressure
- Provide patient education
- Perform data analysis
- Ensure patient comfort and safety
- Record medical histories
- Supervise and train new technicians
- Assist with invasive and noninvasive procedures
In addition to technical competence, technicians will be expected to possess the personality traits that are required to effectively care for patients. Technicians interact with patients on a daily basis and must have a friendly personality along with a strong desire to help people live happier and healthier lives. Individuals who do not enjoy working with people and who cannot express empathy towards patients are rarely successful in this profession. Most employers understand the importance of a pleasant personality in the process of providing comprehensive patient care and they are often more than willing to pay a higher EKG technician salary to individuals who can demonstrate that they have a genuine concern for the health and well-being of patients. A positive attitude and a willingness to work hard are attributes that result in a satisfying career as a technician.
Salary and Employment Projections
The size of the EKG technician salary is a reflection of the important services that are performed. According to Indeed.com, the mean income is approximately $35,000 – $40,000 per year. The precise amount that a technician can earn depends largely on the services that the technician is qualified to perform. Those who have completed some form of advanced education and training may have the opportunity to earn upwards of $80,000 per year while those who have basic skills may have to settle for a position that offers $30,000 or less.
As a large portion of the population approaches retirement age, industry professionals expect career advancement opportunities for technicians to increase substantially. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that job openings for cardiovascular technologists and technicians will increase by 29% between 2010 and 2020. This level of growth is much faster than the average for all other occupations. One reason for the growth is the fact that many medical facilities are replacing costly invasive procedures with more advanced and affordable diagnostic techniques. These noninvasive approaches are less costly and are preferred by both patients and health insurance companies. Another factor contributing to industry expansion is the fact that the baby-boomer generation has entered the period in life when they will become more dependent on the healthcare system. The inevitable result of higher demand for medical services is an increase in job opportunities within public and private healthcare establishments.
EKG Technician Training and Certification
Traditionally, there have been a few different routes that individuals have taken in order to enter this profession. Those who have been in the industry for many years may have entered through on-the-job training, whereas new technicians are commonly expected to complete a college degree and professional certification. The amount of training required depends heavily on the services that will be provided. In most cases, an EKG technician will need to finish an Associate’s Degree Program and certification through a nationally recognized organization. Many educational institutions incorporate clinical experience into the curriculum and have arranged for students to gain hands-on experience by working with experienced technicians. Some employers may also require employees to complete on-site training that has been specifically designed to prepare new hires for the unique requirements of the establishment.
The certification process provides proof that a technician has met the minimum standards of competency. There are payment sources that will not reimburse facilities for procedures that are performed by technicians who have not yet been certified. For this reason, it is safe to assume that certification will be required in most cases. Certification does not mean that formal state requirements have been met and technicians are well-advised to make sure that they are in compliance with both state and national practice standards.
Individuals who are considering certification should contact potential employers about their requirements. One of the most common types of certification is the Certified Cardiographic Technician (CCT). This examination is designed to assess competency in the areas of ECG, Holter monitoring, and stress testing. A similar type of certification is known as the Certified EKG Technician (CET) offered through the National Healthcareer Association. Examples of specialized certification options include the Certified Rhythm Analysis Technician (CRAT), Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonographer (RCCS), Registered Cardiac Electrophysiology Specialist (RCES), Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS), Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS), and Registered Vascular Specialist (RVS). Specialized certification may allow an individual to pursue a higher EKG technician salary and qualify for more jobs.