The electrocardiogram -- the EKG or ECG -- is a test used to measure a heart's function. It is a non-invasive test that measures electrical currents emitted from the heartbeat. The EKG measures the electrical waves to assess whether the heart is beating irregularly, is too large, or is overworked. Certification to become an EKG technician is optional, but, it is highly valued by employers, and insurance companies may only pay for procedures performed by a certified technician.
Cardiovascular Credentialing International, CCI, is a not-for-profit association that administers credentialing examinations for cardiovascular professionals. CCI administers the Certified Cardiographic Technician, or CCT, exam. Applicants who pass the exam receive a credential certificate to signify their status as an active credential holder. The association is accredited by the American National Standards Institute, ANSI, an internationally recognized accreditation body.
Applicants must meet one of four prerequisites, known as CC1, CC2, CC3 and CC4, to qualify for the CCT exam. CCT1 qualifies a currently enrolled student or recent graduate of an approved training program. CCT2 qualifies applicants currently or previously employed in a health-related field based on skills learned on the job. CCT3 permits applicants with an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited school in a science or health-related field to sit for the exam. CCT4 qualifies volunteers who have dedicated a minimum of two years of full-time service to the field of cardiovascular technology. The applicant must provide CCI with a completion certificate, educational transcript, a Student Verification Letter from the educational institution, or an Employment Verification Letter from the employer to prove that the prerequisites were met.
The CCT exam questions are in six categories and each category addresses duties and tasks that a technician will be expected to perform. The six categories and their weights are basic cardiovascular anatomy and physiology, 14 percent; ECG techniques and recognition, 32 percent; basic cardiovascular electrophysiology, 16 percent; stress test techniques, indications, and contraindications, 11 percent; ambulatory monitoring, 20 percent; and cardiac medications, 7 percent.
Once the application is accepted, approved applicants receive an Authorization to Test, or ATT, letter from CCI that contains a Candidate ID. Test takers use this ID to register for the CCT exam. Exams are administered year-round at more than 200 national Pearson Professional Centers. Test takers can schedule a test online and select a nearby location. As of June 2012, the CCT exam costs $160.
- American Heart Association: Common Tests for Congenital Heart Defects
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Cardiovascular Technologist or Technician or Vascular Technologist
- American National Standards Institute: Accreditation Directory
- Cardiovascular Credentialing International: Certified Cardiographic Technician (CCT) Qualification
- Cardiovascular Credentialing International: 2012 Examination Application and Overview
Amber Laxton has been working in higher education since 2003. Her work focuses on continuing and professional education and workforce development. She works with various professional associations in fields including human resources, project management, operations management, financial planning and marketing. She has a Master of Science in public service management from DePaul University.