Become a Cardiac Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a cardiac technician. Research the education and career requirements, certification and experience needed for starting a career as a cardiac technician.

Should I Become a Cardiac Technician?

Cardiac technicians, also referred to as cardiovascular technicians, prepare patients for cardiac procedures, including electrocardiogram (EKG) and stress tests. In addition to preparing patients for these procedures, technicians also ensure that the equipment is ready for use and cardiologists are familiar with a patient's medical history. Careers are available in hospitals, medical clinics, cardiologists' offices, and other healthcare environments.

Almost all cardiovascular technologists and technicians work full-time. Those that are employed by 24-hour care centers like hospitals and urgent clinics may work evenings, nights, and weekends. Cardiovascular technicians may be exposed to infectious diseases. They spend many hours on their feet and may need to physically move or maneuver patients.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Postsecondary certificate; associate's degree may be required by employers
Degree Name Cardiovascular technology or related field
Experience At least 1 year of experience typically required
Certification Voluntary certifications available
Key Skills Technical and interpersonal skills, detail-oriented, hand-eye coordination, physical stamina, ability to operate complicated cardiac equipment
Salary (2016) $41,587 per year (median salary for all cardiac technicians)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), O*NET OnLine, Salary.com, Online Job Postings (August 2015)

Step 1: Pursue Postsecondary Education

Certificate programs for cardiac technicians typically last one year and include courses in topics like laboratory assisting and health care systems. Students can also train through a cardiovascular technology associate's degree program, which may offer the option to specialize in either invasive or non-invasive tracks. Both tracks will require that students complete coursework and clinical training. Before taking specific invasive or non-invasive cardiovascular technology courses, students will need to complete prerequisite courses in cardiovascular anatomy, pharmacology and electrocardiography.

Step 2: Complete EKG Training

Electrocardiograms (EKGs) are one of the most commonly used diagnostic tools in cardiology, and many technicians specialize solely in this procedure. While EKG training can be found in certificate programs, learning how to perform EKGs can also be part of employee training programs.

Success Tip:

  • Gain related experience. Many employers look for applicants with experience in a related environment, such as an emergency room at a hospital. This can help applicants stand out as well as meet any experience requirements for certification.

Step 3: Obtain Certification to Stand Out

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that employers prefer to hire technicians who are certified. Prospective technicians may pursue the Certified Cardiographic Technician (CCT) designation from Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). Obtaining the CCT credential can demonstrate proficiency in EKG, Holter monitoring and stress testing. In order to become certified, individuals will need to pass an exam that covers topics in cardiovascular anatomy and physiology, stress test techniques, ambulatory monitoring and cardiac medications. As professionals gain additional experience in the field, they can earn specialty certifications, such as the Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist, Registered Cardiac Sonographer or Registered Cardiac Electrophysiology Specialist designations.

Success Tip:

  • Get certified in life support. Before obtaining employment, employers may require that applicants earn basic life support certification through an organization like the American Health Association.

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