Cardiac Monitor Technician
Cardiac Monitor Technician
Education and Training: High school plus training
Salary: Median—$26,513 per year
Employment Outlook: Poor
Definition and Nature of the Work
Cardiac monitor technicians check the heart rhythm patterns of patients to detect abnormal pattern variations. They usually work in the intensive care or cardiac care units of hospitals. These technicians are responsible for reviewing patients' records to determine normal heart rhythms. They monitor current patterns and note any deviations. To do this, technicians use instruments called calipers to measure the length and height of a patient's heart rhythm pattern on graphic tape readouts. Cardiac monitor technicians observe the cardiac monitor screen and listen for an alarm to identify any abnormal heart rhythm variation. They notify nurses and doctors when medical attention is needed.
Education and Training Requirements
Most cardiac monitor technicians are trained on the job in hospital programs that last from one month to a year. A high school diploma or its equivalent is required for acceptance into a hospital's training program. Courses in health, biology, and computer technology are recommended.
Getting the Job
You can consult high school guidance counselors for information on job openings at hospitals, or you can contact hospitals directly. Students who have participated in field internships may be hired upon graduation by the hospital where they trained.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Cardiac monitor technicians advance by learning to perform more complex specialty procedures. With additional training, education, and experience, cardiac monitor technicians can become cardiovascular or cardiopulmonary technicians or cardiology technologists. Advancement to supervisory or training positions is also possible.
Job openings for cardiac monitor technicians are expected to decline through the year 2010. This decline is due primarily to the increased efficiency of the machines and equipment used, which require fewer technicians to perform an increasing number of tests. Those with the most training and experience will have the best opportunities.
Technicians usually work a standard five-day, forty-hour week, in clean and quiet surroundings. Occasionally they are expected to work weekends and evenings, and those in smaller hospitals may be on twenty-four-hour call for emergencies.
Where to Go for More Information
American College of Cardiology
9111 Old Georgetown Rd.
Bethesda, MD 20814-1699
Because they work with people who are ill or anxious about their health, technicians must be patient, reassuring, alert to emergencies, and able to cope with responsibility. Most of all, they must be able to remain calm under pressure.
Earnings and Benefits
In early 2006 the median salary for cardiac monitor technicians was $26,513 per year. Cardiac monitor technicians usually receive benefits that include hospitalization insurance, paid sick leave, and paid vacations. Some hospitals also provide pension plans, uniform allowances, and tuition assistance for further education.