Cardiology Technician Degrees and Certificate Programs

Cardiovascular technicians and technologists conduct tests such as electrocardiograms on patients in order to help diagnose cardiovascular ailments. Cardiovascular technicians typically complete certificate programs, while cardiovascular technologists usually complete associate's degree programs.

Essential Information

Physiology, biology and anatomy are general topics of study, but students also learn about common heart ailments, treatments and cardiovascular medical technologies.

  • Prerequisites: GED or high school diploma; some programs require that students to be working medical professionals
  • Length of Study: Ten weeks in some cases for a certificate; two years for an associate's degree

EKG Certificate Program

It is important to note that many cardiology technicians, also known as EKG technicians, are trained on the job by cardiologists; however, EKG certificate programs are available and are often populated by students enrolling at an employer's request. Candidates study basic anatomy, learn to operate EKG machines and prepare for board certification exams.

EKG technician programs are short and often consist of only one class. Common topics covered include the following:

  • EKG procedures
  • EKG machinery technical knowledge
  • Human chest anatomy
  • Lead placement
  • Clinical practice

Associate's Degree in Cardiovascular Technology

Associate's degree programs in cardiovascular technology prepare students to work as cardiovascular technologists. Certificates are also available in this field and are often a part of associate's degree programs. The first year of these programs usually consists of general education requirements. The second year commonly trains students in one of three specialties: noninvasive cardiovascular technology, invasive cardiovascular technology or noninvasive vascular technology. Those specializing in invasive technologies can expect to spend time learning basic medical procedures, while those specializing in noninvasive technologies will focus on procedures using noninvasive instruments. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals (CAAHEP) accredits programs in this field.

While coursework can vary according to a student's specialty, some courses are common to most all programs. Students can expect to spend time both in the classroom and in laboratory settings. Here are some classes that might appear in the curriculum:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical ethics
  • Health issues and transitions
  • Healthcare delivery systems
  • Medical terminology
  • Blood-born pathogens
  • EKG theory

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment rate for both cardiovascular technicians and technologists was predicted to increase much faster than average (www.bls.gov); it was expected to grow 39% during the 2010-2020 decade. The median annual salary for cardiovascular technologists and technicians was $54,330 as of May 2014, according to the BLS.

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