If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve decided to become an EKG technician. That’s a really sound decision as these professionals are in high demand.

You’ll be part of the rapidly growing healthcare industry and you’ll help save lives for a living!

But determining which career is right for you was only half the battle. The other half is becoming certified.

So, which certification should you go with? CET? ETC? CEKG?

Don’t worry…we are here to help you with just that.

It can be very confusing to keep all of those letters straight and figure out what they mean. I’m about to walk you through each certification so you’ll have all the information you need to make a sound decision.

But I do want to mention right off the bat that there is no need to feel any stress about certification. The truth is, any certification you choose to go with will act as a stamp of approval and help you to stand out from other candidates.

**What is FAR more important is that you choose the RIGHT training program that will prepare you to pass ANY certification exam you choose.

And don’t worry, I’ll also share some fantastic training programs that are affordable and allow adult students to study when is most convenient for them. So make sure you read this ENTIRE article!

Before we dive into the three different certifications, I also want to mention that you can read more about an EKG Technician’s salary, benefits and job prospects here

Ok, let’s dive right in.

Are You Required to Become Certified?

To answer that question simply, it depends on the state you live in. Most states will require EKG technicians to become certified.

But what if you live in a state that does not require certification, should you become certified anyway?

I highly encourage you to because certification is what will set you apart from other candidates and get noticed.

At the end of the day, certification offers EKG techs better job prospects, greater job security, and typically higher pay!

So now let’s look at the three most common certification options.

CET Certification

What does CET stand for?

CET stands for Certified EKG Technician.

What is the CET certification?

EKG rhythms provide some important clues for the diagnosis of various heart conditions. EKG technicians who have obtained the CET certification have demonstrated their ability to perform the critical tasks of administering EKGs as well as stress testing and Holter monitoring.

Thanks to an aging population, demand for these professionals is on the rise, which means more candidates will flood the job market. Obtaining the CET certification will help you stand apart from the crowd and get you noticed.

Who offers CET? The National Healthcareer Association 

The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) has been an industry leader since 1989. Awarding more than 750,000 certifications to date, the organization helps to prepare EKG technicians for a rewarding healthcare career.

The NHA’s goal has always been to improve patient care. They do this by focusing on education, advocacy, and certification. As industry advocates, the organization continually engages with both regulatory and legislative bodies to promote certification for the industry.

The CET Exam

Testing will take place at your school or a PSI Testing Center near you. You must present a valid ID. You will be given 2 hours to complete 120 questions.

How much does the CET exam cost?

The CET exam costs $109. I should mention that some certification training programs, like the ones I’m about to introduce you to, provide a voucher to cover this fee.

What topics will the exam cover?

The CET exam will cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Safety, Compliance, and Coordinated Patient Care
  • EKG Analysis and Interpretation
  • Adhering to HIPAA regulations
  • Infection control practices
  • Ethical standards
  • Patient vital signs
  • And more

What are the requirements to sit for the CET exam?

Candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to sit for the CET examination. They must also have completed a certification training program within the last five years.

ETC Certification

What Does ETC stand for?

ETC stands for EKG Technician Certification.

What is the ETC Certification?

The ETC certification is a recognized seal of approval that a candidate has obtained the necessary credentials to safely and effectively perform their duties. These duties include performing EKGs, Holter monitoring, and stress tests, as well as taking patient information and remaining compliant with HIPAA regulations.

Who offers ETC? The American Medical Certification Association

The American Medical Certification Association (AMCA) was established over 10 years ago with a mission of improving the allied healthcare industry. By providing national certification exams, the organization validates the credentials of those candidates who pass the exam.

The AMCA is nationally approved and recognized as a certification organization in all 50 states. The organization’s certification increases a candidate’s marketability so they stand out from the crowd.

The ETC Exam

The exam consists of 110 questions and candidates will have two hours to complete them. The ETC exam may be taken at your school or a PSI testing Center near you.

How Much Does the Exam Cost?

The ETC exam costs $109. But remember, many training programs will cover the cost of your exam.

Topics covered on the exam:

Some of the topics covered on the ECT exam include:

Medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology of the heart, diseases, and disorders of the heart, electrocardiography, pharmacology, and general patient care.

Requirements to sit for the ECT exam

To sit for the exam the AMCA recommends a minimum of 10 successful EKGs. Beyond this, each state will have its minimum requirements, so it is highly recommended that test candidates find out their particular state’s requirements.

CEKG Certification

What does CEKG stand for?

CEKG stands for Certified EKG Technician.

What is the CEKG certification?

Like other certifications on this list, the CEKG is a validation that a candidate has received proper training and credentials and has mastered the required skill set. CEKG certification will help a candidate get noticed and get their resume to the top of the pile!

Who offers CEKG? The National Workforce Career Association

The National Workforce Career Association (NWCA), established in 2015, has played a critical role in creating the framework for assessing education achievements.

To this date, the organization has worked with well over 500 colleges and universities to design an exam that translates what a candidate knows into usable credentials that may be showcased to prospective employers.

The CEKG Exam

Candidates will have 60 minutes to answer 60 questions.

How much does the CEKG exam cost?

The exam costs $99. That is, unless you have been given a voucher from your training program, then the cost of the exam is covered by your tuition.

What topics will the exam cover?

Topics will include:

  • Setting up and administering EKG tests, stress tests, and Holter monitoring
  • Editing and delivering test results
  • Basic human anatomy
  • Medical terminology as related to the cardiovascular system
  • And more

What are the requirements to sit for the CEKG exam?

Candidates should have received their high school diploma or equivalent and completed an authorized EKG certification training program.

Choosing the Right Certification Training Program

Well, we just covered a LOT of information so let’s take a minute to recap.

We looked at the three main certifications – CET, ECT, CEKG – and also learned a little bit about the organizations that offer each.

The National Healthcareer Association (NHA), the one that offers the CET certification, has been around the longest and administered over 750,000 certifications at this point. However, the AMCA, which offers the ETC certification, is recognized in all 50 states, and that can be attractive to some candidates.

Beyond that, the tests themselves and the exam fees are pretty even across the board.

So which certification is right for you? There’s a far more important question to be asking yourself and that is, what makes a good certification training program?

The truth is, to pass ANY of these certification exams, you’ll need to complete a comprehensive training program. So, set aside the certification exam right now, and let’s focus on getting you connected with the right training program.

What makes a training program the RIGHT one? In our experience, some specific criteria make a certification program worthy of your time and money:

Comprehensive Training

The right education will prepare you for ANY certification exam, whether it’s the CET, ECT, or CEKG.

So there is NO NEED for you to panic about choosing the right certification exam. What you should focus on right now is finding a great training program that will get you FULLY prepared to pass ANY exam!

Take our free quiz to see what program perks you could qualify for:

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What Should I look for in an EKG Technician Program?

All too often prospective students focus on cost and timeframe when researching educational programs. While tuition and the time spent studying play a factor, other factors will determine what EKG tech program is worth your attention. And yes, we will speak about costs in just a minute.

In our experience, to find the right program:

Choose an Authorized School

Imagine how devastated you’d feel if you spent money on a luxury item as a gift for a loved one only to find out it was counterfeit. All of that money would be gone. The same thing can happen with certification programs.

There are a shocking number of unauthorized schools selling EKG technician training programs. These have NOT been approved and will not help you meet the requirements to sit for a certification exam. So before parting with your hard-earned money, be sure your program has been approved.

Look for Online Training

It’s not easy juggling family life, work life, AND your college education. This is particularly true when you are expected to show up to X number of classes each week at your local community college. If you’re a busy adult, you need your training to be flexible and allow you to study when is most convenient for YOU. Learning online means you can study 24/7 from the comfort of your own home and never miss an important business or family function.

It MUST be Affordable

We’ve seen EKG tech programs offered at universities that cost TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars! That’s hardly affordable for most adults who have family responsibilities. OnlineDegree.com has partnered with authorized schools that offer discounts and low monthly payment plans.

Take the free quiz to see if you could qualify!

Make Sure Books are Included

Textbooks can be incredibly expensive. The right program includes books in the cost of tuition.

They Provide an Externship

Do you know what else sets you apart from other candidates besides getting certified? Gaining some real hands-on experience! The right program will include an externship placement so you can get this critical experience.

Take the Next Steps to Become an EKG Technician

OnlineDegree.com wants to help you get an affordable education that will set you up for a rewarding and lucrative career.

That’s why we’ve partnered with schools that meet ALL of these criteria.

Take a few moments to take our quiz to connect with the right certification program that matches your career goals and life situation.

All it takes is a few minutes and you could be on your way to a rewarding and exciting career as an EKG tech!

Take the Quiz! >


About the Author
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.