Invasive Cardiovascular Technologist: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for invasive cardiovascular technologists. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements, certification and salary 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 cardiovascular technicians are specialists in heart-related diagnostic and treatment procedures. They assist physicians with a variety of invasive procedures, including cardiac catheterization and the insertion of pacemakers and stents. They might also operate equipment and monitor the patient's condition during open heart surgery. Invasive cardiovascular technologists most commonly work in hospitals.

The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as an invasive cardiovascular technologist.

Degree Required Associate's degree
Education Field of Study Cardiovascular technology
Key Responsibilities Perform cardiac catheterization to diagnose and treat heart conditions, prepare patients for procedures, monitor blood pressure and heart rate during procedures, collect blood flow and velocity information for attending physician
Certification Certification is preferred and sometimes required
Job Growth (2018-2028) 7%*
Median Salary (2015) $56,850*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What are the Responsibilities of an Invasive Cardiovascular Technologist?

An invasive cardiovascular technologist is concerned with performing cardiac catheterization to diagnose and treat heart conditions. You would insert a catheter into the artery that travels from the groin area into the heart. With the catheter threaded through the artery, you can detect obstructions to normal blood flow to the heart. In balloon angioplasty, another form of catheterization, a balloon placed on the end of the catheter unclogs blockages in the artery or heart valves.

Your responsibilities as an invasive cardiovascular technologist would include preparing the patient for the procedure. You would position the patient, shave and clean the area at the top of the leg where the catheter is to be inserted and then administer anesthesia. During the procedure, you would be responsible for monitoring blood pressure and heart rate with electrocardiography (EKG) equipment. You would collect information for the attending physician, such as blood flow and velocity, and you would provide analysis of arterial blood gases. Other responsibilities may include monitoring patients during open-heart surgery or electrophysiology tests that sense heart arrhythmias.

What Credential Would I Need?

To become a cardiovascular technologist, you would be required to obtain an associate's degree in science or applied science. Coursework would include anatomy and physiology, classes specific to invasive cardiovascular technology as well as laboratory and clinical experience. If you are already qualified as an allied health professional, then you only need to complete the relevant coursework.

Although certification is not required, most employers prefer to hire certified professionals. You can take the certifying exam through Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). As a Registered Invasive Cardiovascular Specialist (RCIV), you would be required to renew your certification every three years. Recertification requires 36 continuing education units.

Certification in other cardiology procedures could increase your employment opportunities. You could learn how to administer an EKG through on-the-job training, usually 4-6 weeks long. This may be an entry-level position in the allied health field while you study to become an invasive cardiovascular technologist.

What are the Salary and Employment Opportunities?

You could expect excellent job opportunities, as this occupation is expected to grow faster than the average, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The aging population will lead to an increase in heart disease, therefore contributing to an increase in testing and treatment. Also, public health education has increased awareness of the symptoms of vascular disease, leading people to visit a doctor for verification.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a cardiology technologist was $56,850 in 2018. Most positions are available in hospitals, where you could expect to earn a mean annual salary of $58,130. Physician offices pay higher at $60,600 annually. A high concentration of jobs can be found at medical and diagnostic laboratories, where you could expect a mean annual salary of $58,730 in 2018.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Rather than assisting with invasive heart procedures, you could choose to become a specialist in a noninvasive cardiac diagnostic technique. For instance, you could get a job as a cardiac sonographer, which would involve using ultrasound to create images that can be used to identify heart problems. You could also become an electrocardiogram (EKG) technician. Alternatively, if you want to focus your career on invasive treatments, you could become a surgical technologist or operating technician. Instead of focusing specifically on heart procedures, these professionals can assist with surgery for many different diseases and injuries. Most jobs require either a postsecondary certificate or an associate's degree, and certification or licensure is often preferred or required.

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