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Cardiology Technician Degrees and Certificate Programs

Read about certificate and degree programs for aspiring cardiology technicians. Get an overview on the differences between these programs, as well as program requirements and job outlooks for each.

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Essential Information

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

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. Programs are relatively short, taking as little as 10 weeks to complete in some cases. Candidates study basic anatomy, learn to operate EKG machines and prepare for board certification exams.

Educational Prerequisites

These programs often do not have educational prerequisites beyond a high school diploma or GED. Those that do have prerequisites typically only enroll working medical professionals.

Program Coursework

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.

Educational Prerequisites

A high school diploma or GED is required. Additionally, some programs may require letters of recommendation, high school transcripts or standardized test scores. The strongest applicants will have aptitudes in science, mathematics, health sciences or computer science.

Program Coursework

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 (; it was expected to grow 29% during the 2010-2020 decade. The median annual salary for cardiovascular technologists and technicians was $52,070 as of May 2012, according to the BLS.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics