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EKG technicians perform cardiac (heart) testing under a doctor's supervision using electrocardiograph or EKG, the test commonly used to identify heart disease. EKG technicians prepare equipment and patients and conduct tests by attaching electrodes to the patient and recording information about heart function on an electrocardiograph. EKG technicians with advanced skills may also perform Holter tests, which use a portable heart monitor to record heart function for 24 to 48 hours. They also perform stress tests that allow the doctor to observe heart function while the patient exercises on a treadmill.
A high school diploma or GED including English or ESL is required to become an EKG technician. Many EKG technicians receive on-the-job training. Hospitals may train nurse aids or other employees in use of the EKG equipment. Medical assistants are often trained to perform this test in a doctor's office or clinic. Some employers may require completion of a one-year certification training program in a community college or vocational school which teaches EKG, Holter monitoring and stress testing.