Certified Cardiac Technician Certification and Career
Cardiac technicians perform cardiac stress tests and electrocardiograms. Cardiac techs need excellent communication skills and attention to detail, and certification is preferred. Find out what else you need for this career.
What You Need to Know
Formal training is required for a career is a cardiac technician. Education requirements can vary, but typically you'll need either a 2-year degree, which can be earned from a community college, technical school or other academic institution; or a certificate, which can be earned from schools or certain hospitals. Online training isn't available for this career. You should complete this training through a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), which will ensure that the coursework meets all the requirements for your certification.
|Training||Associate's degree or certificate; education programs should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)|
|Certification||Preferred by employers; Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) administers the Certified Cardiographic Technician (CCT) credential|
|Salary*||$55,270 per year (median salary for cardiovascular technologists and technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2017)
How Can I Get Certified?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employers prefer to hire cardiac technicians who hold professional certification. You have a variety of certification options related to this field. For example, Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) provides the Certified Cardiographic Technician (CCT) credential. You have several options to meet the prerequisites for pursuing this credential, such as volunteering in the cardiovascular technology field for at least two years or graduating from a recognized allied health or cardiovascular program.
You'll also be required to sit for an exam, which can be taken by computer at a testing facility and consists of 100 or more multiple choice questions covering a broad range of subjects. Study guides and workshops are available to help you brush up before the test, and CCI offers a self-assessment exam to help you prepare.
What Is a Career as a Certified Cardiac Technician Like?
Cardiac technicians prepare patients for procedures like electrocardiograms (EKGs) to test their hearts by attaching electrodes to the patient's body. These technicians also operate the EKG machines, monitor the electrical activity of the patient's heart and record the results to share with physicians and other practitioners. Cardiac technicians can find employment in a variety of health care settings, including the following:
- Outpatient facilities
- Physicians' offices
- Cardiology centers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected job opportunities for cardiovascular technicians and technologists to increase 17% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. This rise was estimated based on the need for professionals to care for America's aging population. Skilled technicians have the opportunity to advance to the level of cardiovascular technologists, or they can choose to certify in more than one area of cardiac technology, making them even more valuable as employees.
What Are the Training Programs Like?
In an associate's degree program, such as an Associate of Applied Science in Cardiovascular Technology program, you can expect your first year to include general education courses and core classes like anatomy and physiology. In your second year, you'll focus on the specific skills and knowledge you need to be a cardiac technician, including clinical skills. Certificate programs are similar, though they omit general education courses and cover both the core and clinical training within one year of study.
There are also 4-year degree programs available to help you prepare to certify in more than one area, such as invasive cardiovascular technology or noninvasive vascular study. These programs may also better prepare you for an administrative or leadership role in the field. A bachelor's degree may not be necessary for an entry-level position, but may make you a better candidate in a competitive environment and may make it easier for you to advance once you've entered the field.