EKG technicians and cardiology technologists both perform cardio tests and procedures, working alongside physicians and other medical staff. However, these roles have different responsibilities, skills and training. An EKG technician works on basic or general monitoring tests; a cardiology technologist works on more complex testing and may assist in surgical procedures.
EKG Technician Job Duties
EKG technicians focus primarily on electrocardiogram monitoring. They operate EKG equipment, running tests on patients' heart rates and blood pressure during diagnostic processes and as part of surgical checks. Technicians with additional training may also perform advanced tests and procedures, such as exercise stress tests and Holter monitoring. They are also usually responsible for equipment maintenance and checks.
Cardiology Technologist Job Duties
Cardiology technologists typically specialize in either invasive or noninvasive cardiology. Invasive technologists assist physicians with procedures such as catheterizations and angioplasty surgery, helping prepare patients and monitoring EKG equipment and patient well-being during procedures. Some may assist in open-heart surgery. Noninvasive specialists focus on either cardio or vascular disorders; both primarily run tests using ultrasound technology. Cardio specialists test the operation of the heart, while vascular specialists test blood circulation.
Similarities and Differences
The role of the EKG technician is an entry-level job in cardiology; the cardiology technologist has a more senior role and advanced training. Technologists' basic training enables them to do the same tasks as technicians, but they take on more complex tests and procedures, which are outside the skills of EKG technicians. These roles work closely with patients, and both technicians and technologists may schedule appointments, check medical histories and explain procedures before monitoring begins.
Education and Training
EKG technicians need a high school diploma or GED. They often train on the job -- it takes four to six weeks to learn the basics. Some technicians opt for college training and take certification programs that typically take a year, or complete an associate degree. Cardiology technologists usually study for an associate degree, although some opt for a bachelor's degree. Programs cover both general and specialty training. People who already have health care experience may only need to study for a year. Licensing requirements for both roles vary from state to state. Certification is not essential, however many employers require it, and it may be a condition of licensing in some states.