Cardiovascular technologists and technicians play a vital role in the field of heart and vascular healthcare. These professionals use medical imaging equipment to help diagnose heart and related blood vessel ailments and identify potentially harmful blood clots in patients reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Since those in cardiovascular tech jobs work under the supervision of a physician, they may assist in a variety of invasive or non-invasive procedures. They may also perform tasks such as maintaining imaging equipment, inserting catheters, recording findings and tracking patient's progress.
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians typically work in healthcare facilities, according to the BLS with the majority working in general and surgical hospitals. Others in this field work in physicians' offices, medical and diagnostic laboratories and outpatient care centers. Although job duties can vary, many cardiovascular technologists are required to be on their feet for long periods of time or lift patients as they assist in their treatment, notes the BLS. Cardiovascular techs can expect at least some irregularity in their work schedule, as they may be called upon during medical emergencies.
How to Become a Cardiovascular Tech
Individuals interested in cardiovascular tech careers can begin by working toward a degree in the field. While some cardiovascular techs only complete on-the-job training, most earn an associate degree according to the BLS. Cardiovascular tech training at the bachelor's and certificate level is also available.
The following steps outline a general path one can take to pursue cardiovascular tech careers, though they do not guarantee employment:
- Earn a high school diploma or equivalent while focusing on anatomy, physiology and mathematics.
- Complete a postsecondary certificate program, associate's degree or bachelor's degree.
- Gain professional certification through one of the certifying agencies, which is preferred by most employers according to the BLS.
- Apply to entry-level cardiovascular technologist or technician positions in your area.
- Maintain professional certification through continuing education.
Post-Education Requirements: Certification and/or State Licensing
Those who graduate from cardiovascular tech training can pursue professional certification through a number of different organizations, several of which are outlined below:
- Cardiovascular Credentialing International: CCI offers several certifications, including Certified Cardiographic Technician (CCT), Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS), Registered Vascular Specialist (RVS), Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) credentials.
- American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography: ARDMS offers several professional certifications for individuals in this field, including Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS) and Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT) credentials.
Once cardiovascular technologists and technicians become certified, they must meet continuing education requirements as outlined by their certifying agency. Each certification has its own qualification requirements.
Cardiovascular Tech Specialties
Upon completion of cardiovascular tech training, many professionals choose a focus or specialty. An employee who is certified in a specialty may experience increased job prospects due to their additional training. Specialties within this field, as noted by the BLS, include:
- Cardiology Technologists: These professionals focus their efforts on medical imaging of the heart. According to the BLS, they may also do invasive procedures, such as inserting catheters, in addition to using diagnostic imaging equipment.
- Vascular Technologists: Vascular technologists use diagnostic imaging to assist physicians in diagnosing blood flow disorders.
- Cardiac Sonographers: These medical professionals use imaging equipment to examine the heart's chambers, valves, and vessels.
- EKG Technicians: These individuals specialize in electrocardiogram (EKG) testing.
Cardiovascular Tech Job Growth and Average Salary
According to the BLS, employment for cardiovascular technologists/technicians and vascular technologists is expected to increase 29 percent nationally from 2010 to 2020. This exceptional growth is expected to take place as healthcare facilities transition away from more invasive and costly procedures and replace them with advanced diagnostic imaging. In addition, the use of medical imaging equipment is expected to surge as the overall demand of healthcare increases and consumers look for additional ways to keep healthcare costs down. The BLS notes that the annual median wage for cardiovascular technologists/technicians and vascular technologists was $52,070 nationally in May 2012. The top 10 percent of earners made over $80,790 while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $27,830. However, it's important to remember that salary can vary based on employer, location, experience and other factors.
List of Related Careers
With additional education and training, cardiovascular technologists may be able to pursue other careers within the field of healthcare. These can include the following:
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographers: Use special imaging equipment to diagnose and assess a variety of medical conditions.
- Medical Lab Technologists and Technicians: Collect samples and perform tests to analyze bodily fluids and tissue.
- Radiologic Technologists: Perform diagnostic imaging tests such as MRIs, CT scans and X-rays to help identify patient injuries and illnesses.
Links to Sources and Associations:
The following sites can provide additional information about cardiovascular tech careers:
American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, 2013, http://www.ardms.org/
Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wages, 2013, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292031.htm
Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians and Vascular Technologists, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/cardiovascular-technologists-and-technicians.htm
Cardiovascular Credentialing International, 2013, http://www.cci-online.org/