Info on Becoming a Cardiac Cath Lab Technician
Learn how to become a cardiac cath lab technician. Research the education and career requirements, certification and experience required for starting a career as a cardiac cath lab technician.
Do I Want to Be a Cardiac Catheterization Lab Technician?
This process involves inserting a small tube through a patient's artery to determine whether a blockage exists. A cardiovascular technician's primary duties focus on assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of patients who are living with heart and blood vessel disease. However, additional duties may include making appointments, caring for and operating lab equipment, describing procedures to patients and administering stress tests. Overnight, weekend and evening hours may be required.
Prospective cath lab technicians need to earn an associate's degree, and optional certification is available. Obtaining certification may be preferred by employers and will demonstrate a tech's knowledge and skills in the field. The table below includes the requirements to become a cardiac cath lab technician.
|Degree Level||Associate's degree*|
|Degree Name||Cardiovascular technology*|
|Certification||The Cardiac Credentialing International offers certification**|
|Key Skills||Strong communication skills, detail-oriented, ability to stand and move equipment**|
|Technical Skills||Must be able to operate cardiovascular diagnostic and imaging machinery*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); **Job postings (December 2012)
Step 1: Complete an Associate's Degree Program
Cardiac cath lab technicians begin their education and training by attending a 2-year, associate's degree program in cardiovascular technology at a junior or community college. Students who want to assist with a catheterization procedure must concentrate in invasive cardiovascular studies. Courses in the program will cover topics involving invasive cardiovascular procedures, invasive instrumentation, congenial heart disease and cardiovascular pharmacology.
- Acquire certification. Although certification is voluntary, some employers may prefer applicants who have earned certification. The Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) offers appropriate certification testing, and technicians can pursue the Certified Cardiovascular Technician (CCT) designation. To maintain certification, cardio cath lab technicians are required to pursue continuing education coursework.
Step 2: Seek Employment
Employment opportunities for cardiac cath technicians are found within cardiology departments in public and private hospitals. However, additional employment opportunities are typically available in the offices of medical professionals or medical and diagnostic labs. In addition to completing the specific duties, technicians also deal with patients facing stressful life-or-death situations. Employers may prefer technicians with calm and pleasant dispositions because these qualities can help reduce patient anxiety.
- Pursue additional certifications. Professionals currently working in the field can pursue specialty certification. CCI offers the Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) designation to technicians who have two years of experience.
- Advance to a technologist position. Technicians who want to advance in their career can consider pursuing a bachelor's degree and becoming a cardiovascular technologist. Technologist positions carry more responsibility and can lead to supervisory or management positions.
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