How Can I Become a Cardiovascular Technologist?
Research what it takes to become a cardiovascular technologist. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you.
What Is a Cardiovascular Technologist?
Cardiovascular technologists are experts in the use of sophisticated equipment that can aid in the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions. They often specialize in a particular area of the field. For instance, echocardiographers use ultrasound to create images of the heart and surrounding blood vessels, while cardiac catheterization technologists install heart catheters. Cardiac invasive specialists aid in open heart surgery and EKG technicians run stress tests. After conducting diagnostic tests, cardiovascular technologists analyze and summarize their results for presentation to a physician, who can use the information to diagnose heart conditions and develop appropriate treatment plans.
See the table below for more information about this career:
|Degree Required||Certificate or associate's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Cardiovascular technology|
|Key Responsibilities||Prepare patients for invasive cardiovascular procedures, |
Monitor equipment used for imaging during cardiovascular procedures,
Use specialized equipment to test patients' cardiovascular functioning,
Write reports on patient cardiovascular functioning for physician's interpretation
|Certification||Not required but often sought by employers|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||7%*|
|Mean Salary (2018)||$58,730*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Would I Do as a Cardiovascular Technologist?
As a cardiovascular technologist, you would work with doctors and their teams to diagnose and treat heart and blood vessel illnesses. You could specialize in invasive cardiology, which involves cardiac catheterization, angioplasty and monitoring the heart during surgery; noninvasive cardiology, which involves echocardiography and ultrasound imaging; or vascular technology, which involves performing various tests to determine arterial and venal strength and blood flow. You also might have some administrative duties, such as filing medical records, scheduling appointments and maintaining the equipment you use. Most technologists work in hospitals, though you also could work in a catheterization laboratory if that is your chosen specialty.
What Education or Training Do I Need?
Cardiovascular technology training programs are available at the certificate, associate's, bachelor's and master's levels. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs accredits all levels of cardiovascular training. Most technologists complete a 2-year program resulting in an associate's degree. In a cardiovascular technology program, you'll learn methods and procedures of the field both in the classroom and in supervised clinical settings. Many schools focus on only one specialty - invasive, noninvasive or vascular technology - so you should choose a program according to the specialization you want to learn.
Do I Need to Be Certified?
Though you are not required to be certified, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that credentialing for cardiovascular technicians and technologists is often sought by employers and is becoming the professional standard. Cardiac Credentialing International offers multiple specialized designations, including Certified Cardiographic Technician, Registered Cardiac Electrophysiology Specialist, Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist, Registered Cardiac Sonographer and Registered Vascular Specialist. The American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers also offers various certifications, including Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer and Registered Vascular Technologist. The BLS notes that having multiple credentials could improve your employment prospects.
What is the Career Outlook and Salary for Cardiovascular Technologists?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected job growth for cardiovascular technologists from 2018 to 2028 is 7%, which is much faster than average. The aging American population is likely to cause increases in rates of cardiovascular disease as well as the procedures used to diagnose and treat it, which should make for a positive job outlook for all types of cardiovascular technologists. Also according to the BLS, the mean salary for cardiovascular technologists was $58,730 in 2018.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
There are several other job options for individuals interested in operating diagnostic equipment. For instance, you could get a job as a diagnostic medical sonographer in a non-cardiac area, such as musculoskeletal sonography or obstetric/gynecological sonography. You could also become a radiographic technologist; these professionals specialize in the use of x-rays and other radiation-based machines to create diagnostic images. If you're more interested in patient treatment, you could think about a career as a radiation therapist, where you would use linear accelerator machines to administer radiation for cancer treatment. To get any of these jobs, you usually need to have an associate's degree, and licensure or certification is preferred or required.