Most EKG technicians have a high school diploma.  Formal training is not required and many receive on-the-job training by an EKG supervisor or a cardiologist.   Usually these trainees have some prior related healthcare experience.  Those not already in a healthcare role may pursue formal training at EKG technician schools.

EKG technician training is provided by EKG schools such as community colleges, state colleges, vocational and technical schools.  Students may pursue KG certificate programs or associate programs.  According to O*Net Online, about 63% of Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians (of which EKG technicians are a subset) have an associate's degree, about 13% have a post-secondary certificate a 10% have only a high school diplomas. The remainder have other training. 

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On-the-job EKG technician training for EKG technician programs usually takes about 4 to 6 weeks.  This is typically performed under the supervision of a cardiologist or EKG supervisor.  Most employers prefer to train people already in the healthcare field.  EKG technician trainees might often be nursing aides or students enrolled in associate‚Äôs degree programs for cardiovascular technologists and technicians.  Holter monitoring on-the-job training may last around 18 to 24 months.

EKG technician certificate programs usually take less than a year.  A high school diploma or equivalent is normally required.  These EKG certificate programs train students on EKG equipment and practice correct hands-on  "lead" placement on patients.  EKG training  typically consists of courses such as:

  • medical terminology
  • anatomy of the heart
  • physiology of the heart
  • legal aspects of patient interaction
  • heart diseases and irregularities
  • medical ethics
  • EKG interpretation basics
  • introduction to Electronic Health Records
  • Holter monitoring
  • EKG equipment practice
  • electrode placement
  • treadmill experience

Most programs  contain a clinical component so that students can gain valuable hands on experience.

Students may choose to advance beyond a certificate program and pursue an Associate's degree in cardiovascular technology. These  typically take about 2 years to finish. In addition to classes in the subject, those students in degree programs will also need to take general education classes to complete the requirements for the degree.  Check with the Commission of Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals (CAAHP) to find which courses are accredited.

Typically one year is dedicated to core courses followed by a year of specialized instruction such as:

  • Invasive cardiology: for students who plan to work in a cardiac catheterization lab or cardiac catheterization suite, which sometimes includes electrophysiology
  • Noninvasive cardiology: for students who plan to work in Holter monitor, stress and pacemaker testing  
  • Noninvasive echo cardiology: for students who plan to work with cardiovascular ultrasound
  • Noninvasive vascular cardiology: for students who plan to work in peripheral vascular cardiology

Students should make sure to look for a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Information on this site summarized from:      
(1)  Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition,Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists,
(2) O*Net Online,Summary Report for: 29-2031.00 - Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians,

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