Cardiovascular science explores the workings of the heart and vascular systems in addition to associated diseases and disorders. Learn about careers in the field, job duties, salary info and related degree programs.
Is Cardiovascular Science for Me?
Cardiovascular science is the study of the function, structure, disorders and diseases of the vascular system, heart and blood. Job titles in cardiovascular science include perfusionist, invasive cardiovascular technologist, cardiologist and cardiovascular research scientist.
Invasive cardiovascular technologists serve as members of cardiac catheterization teams. You could assist physicians who perform angiograms or other cardiac catheterization procedures. Your duties may include monitoring vital signs, comforting the patient and charting health information. Perfusionists work as a member of a surgical team to operate heart and lung equipment. The equipment takes over the functions of heart and lungs by pumping and oxygenating the blood during surgical procedures. You could work with a physician to set up an external circulatory system for use in heart-related surgeries, such as organ transplant and chemotherapy.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for cardiovascular technologists and technicians were expected to grow by 30% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reports that cardiovascular technologists and technicians earned median pay of $53,210 in 2013. PayScale.com reported in 2014 that medical perfusionists earned median pay of $88,626. The BLS reports that jobs for physicians and surgeons, including cardiologists, are expected to increase 18% from 2012-2022; the 2013 median annual pay rate was greater than $187,200. Medical scientists, such as cardiovascular research scientists, can expect job growth of 13%; the BLS also reports that the 2013 median salary for this occupation was $79,840.
How Can I Work in Cardiovascular Science?
Most invasive cardiovascular technologists hold an associate's degree in invasive cardiovascular technology, according to the BLS. You may also choose to become a registered cardiovascular invasive specialist (RCIS) through Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Perfusionists may complete bachelor's, post-baccalaureate or master's degree programs in a cardiovascular or perfusion science, such as perfusion technology, clinical perfusion or cardiovascular perfusion. Individuals who wish to pursue a medical research career in cardiovascular sciences typically have a Ph.D. in a biological science, while some have a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree.
To become a physician, you'll need to get licensed in your state. This involves holding an M.D. and passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination, among other requirements depending on the state.