For most jobs in the cardiovascular technology field, an associate's degree is necessary, but some employers may require additional certifications in addition to a degree. Job titles for graduates include cardiovascular technologist, cardiovascular technician, vascular technologist or cardiac sonographer.
Under the direction of physicians, cardiovascular technologists perform different procedures to determine the health of a patient's vascular system and arteries. These procedures include stress tests and echocardiograms. Cardiovascular technologists monitor patients during procedures and may also schedule appointments and care for specialized equipment. Students interested in working in the cardiac care environment usually get their associate's degree. In these programs, students can take classes like pharmacology, patient care, and human anatomy. In order to be considered for a lot of the careers in this field, students must pass certification exams.
|Career||Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians||Diagnostic Medical Sonographers|
|Education Requirements||Associate's degree||Associate's degree|
|Other Requirements||Certification recommended||Certification recommended|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||22%||26%|
|Mean Salary (2015)*||$56,100||$70,880|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Those looking to get their degree in cardiovascular technology have many routes to take in the medical field. Most of the career options focus on treating patients with cardiovascular and artery problems. Below are descriptions and overviews of three possible career choices for cardiovascular technology graduates.
Cardiovascular technologists employ non-invasive and invasive procedures in order to diagnose and determine appropriate treatment for heart disorders. An example of an invasive diagnostic test is cardiac catheterization in which the technologist checks for blockages by inserting a small tube into a blood vessel and maneuvering it into the heart with the use of X-rays and a monitor. Non-invasive procedures include echocardiography, vascular Doppler and electrocardiography. The cardiovascular technologist performs the test, and the data is relayed to a physician for a diagnosis. Other duties may include recording and reviewing medical history and equipment maintenance.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of cardiovascular and vascular technology will experience job growth of 22% for the years 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported in 2015 that cardiovascular technologists and technicians earned $56,100 as a mean annual salary.
Vascular technologists aid physicians in diagnosing disorders that affect the circulation. These technologists examine arteries and veins for abnormalities and perform non-invasive procedures, including ultrasound imaging, in order to uncover irregularities or illnesses. They use ultrasound instrumentation in recording vascular information such as vascular blood flow, changes in limb blood volume, oxygen saturation and peripheral circulation. Vascular technologists report the information gathered by vascular testing to cardiologists, who then make decisions regarding diagnosis and treatment.
Cardiac sonographers, or echocardiographers, use ultrasound techniques to examine and obtain images of the heart chamber, vessels and valves by creating echocardiograms. An echocardiogram may be taken while the patient is either physically active or resting. Technologists may give medication to patients who are physically active to assess their heart function. Cardiac sonographers may also assist physicians in performing transesophageal echocardiography, which is the insertion of a tube in the patient's esophagus to obtain ultrasound images.
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians are important healthcare team members that treat cardiac patients. Students with an associate's degree and certifications have a variety of different career paths in this fast-growing healthcare field.