How Can I Become an Invasive Cardiovascular Technologist?

Explore the career requirements for invasive cardiovascular technologists. Get the facts about education requirements, certification, salary and job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Cardiovascular Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Invasive Cardiovascular Technologist?

Invasive cardiac technologists are technologists who specialize in assisting physicians with the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions. As an invasive cardiac technologist, you may be involved in the preparation and insertion of cardiac catheters, pacemakers and stents. You could also be responsible for monitoring the patient's blood pressure and heart rate during open heart surgery and other invasive procedures, as well as the maintenance and operation of medical equipment. You are most likely to find a job in a hospital, but employment could also be available in smaller clinics as well.

To learn more about this career field and what it takes to qualify for a position, check out the table below.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Cardiovascular technology
Key Responsibilities Assist physicians with cardiac catheterization and angioplasty procedures as well as electrophysiology tests
Certification Preferred by many employers
Job Growth (2014-2024) 22% (for all cardiovascular technologists and technicians)*
Median Salary (2015) $56,100 (for all cardiovascular technologists and technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as an Invasive Cardiovascular Technologist?

Invasive cardiovascular technologists are trained in the technique of cardiac catheterization. For this procedure, you would help insert a small tube, or catheter, into a patient's artery from the groin to the heart in order to diagnose or treat cardiovascular problems that cannot be determined or fixed by noninvasive techniques. Additional duties include assisting physicians with balloon angioplasty procedures to treat blockages or conducting electrophysiology tests to diagnose arrhythmias. You would be responsible for the equipment used in your procedures and for making patients comfortable as you perform various tests.

What Education Do I Need?

Because of the sensitive nature of the invasive procedures, you need to attend a formal training program in cardiovascular technology. The Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs accredits 2-year associate's and 4-year bachelor's degree programs. While some of these are general cardiovascular technology programs, others focus on invasive technology. You would study anatomy, physiology, medical terminology and the fundamentals of cardiovascular technology, as well as participating in supervised clinical courses.

How Could I Advance My Career?

Though credentialing is voluntary for cardiovascular technologists, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that it is becoming the professional standard and could help you in your job search (www.bls.gov). Cardiac Credentialing International (CCI) offers the Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist designation for those working in cardiac catheterization (www.cci-online.org).

You are eligible to take the exam for certification after you have completed your cardiovascular training program or after you have completed two years of full-time experience as an invasive cardiovascular technologist. CCI also offers the Registered Cardiac Electrophysiology Specialist credential, for which you may test after completing your training program or after two years of full-time work experience in electrophysiology.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of a job as an invasive cardiovascular technologist, you could focus your career in a noninvasive area by becoming a cardiac sonographer or electrocardiogram (EKG) technician. These professionals use specialized equipment to conduct diagnostic tests that physicians can use to identify heart conditions that need to be treated. Alternatively, if you are interested in invasive surgery, you could pursue a more general job as a surgical technologist or operating room technician. These professionals assist physicians with surgery on many parts of the body, in addition to the heart. For one of these jobs, the minimum educational requirement is a postsecondary certificate or diploma.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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