Career Definition for a Cardiac Technician
This field may be an option for individuals who seek a diagnostic role in healthcare but don't want to become nurses or full-fledged physicians. Most cardiac technicians work in hospitals assisting physicians in procedures to diagnose and treat heart disease and vascular problems. Depending on the level of training and experience, a technician may perform electrocardiograms (EKGs) and stress tests; he or she may help with catheterization procedures and open heart surgeries as well.
A cardiac professional may choose to work at a hospital for 40+ hours a week, which might include weekends, evenings, and holidays; hours can change with seniority. Another option is agency work, which allows cardiac technicians to decide what days and times they wish to work; the flexibility comes with less security in the number of hours per week.
|Education||Associate degree is most common, bachelor's may help boost job potential, certifications available|
|Job Skills||Communication, stamina, heavy equipment movement|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$54,880|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||22%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The most common education level for a cardiac technician is completion of a two-year associate's program, though four-year bachelor's degrees are becoming increasingly popular to beat out competition and advance more quickly. These degrees are available through technical schools, colleges, and universities, and they combine classroom teaching with hands-on experience. Students who earn a degree in this field can pursue certification through Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) and the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). Certification isn't always required, but certified technicians are typically preferred by employers.
Good communication skills are essential in a profession dealing with technical information and patients of different ages. Technicians also need the stamina to spend long hours on their feet, move heavy equipment, and help position patients for exams.
Career and Economic Projections
The job outlook for cardiac technicians is very favorable, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicting growth of 22% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than average. The BLS noted that the median annual salary earned by cardiovascular technologists and technicians was $54,880 in 2015.
Alternate Career Options
Consider these other options for careers in medical imaging:
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
This occupation requires nuclear medicine technologists to prepare special radioactive drugs and give them to patients in preparation for a diagnostic scan that picks up on tissue affected by the radiation. Techs then give these scanned images to a doctor for diagnosis. Duties also include patient record keeping and making sure the machinery is working as expected.
A nuclear medicine technologist has at least an associate's degree in nuclear medicine technology; he or she may also have a state license, depending on state requirements and/or professional certification, which is sometimes required by employers as well. Nuclear medicine technologists can expect slower than average job growth from 2014-2024 - an increase of 2% per the BLS. They also earned median salaries of $73,360 in 2015.
A radiologic technologist performs diagnostic imaging on patients using specialized machinery that produces x-rays, mammograms, and similar pictures. Radiologic technologists keep patient records, position patients for exams, and ensure scanning machines work properly. They also send scanned images to doctors for evaluation.
This occupation requires an associate's or bachelor's degree or a graduate certificate in radiologic technology. Licensing and certification requirements may apply in some states. Jobs in this field are expected to increase 9% from 2014-2024, per the BLS. Radiologic technologists earned median salaries of $56,670 in 2015, per the BLS.