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Become a Cardiac Catheterization Technician: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a cardiac catheterization technician. Explore the education and career requirements, certification and experience that can help you start a career as a cardiac catheterization technician. View article »

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  • 0:02 Cardiac…
  • 0:58 Career Information
  • 1:37 Step 1: Earn a Degree
  • 2:10 Step 2: Obtain Certification
  • 2:45 Step 3: Find Employment
  • 3:09 Step 4: Qualify as a…

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Video Transcript

Cardiac Catheterization Technician

Cardiac catheterization technicians work alongside cardiologists during invasive cardiovascular diagnostic and treatment procedures. A cardiac catheterization procedure involves inserting a thread through an artery into a patient's heart. This procedure helps determine whether the vessels that supply the heart with blood are blocked. If so, the artery may be cleared during catheterization.

Cardiac catheterization technicians typically work in hospitals, doctors' offices, and diagnostic laboratories. Evening, night, and weekend hours are possible, especially for those technicians employed by 24-hour care centers like hospitals. Technicians spend the majority of their working hours on their feet and should be strong enough to lift or maneuver patients. Some procedures are performed at patients' bedsides and technicians may be exposed to infectious diseases unrelated to cardiac care.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree
Degree Name Cardiovascular technology
Licensure and Certification Voluntary certification is offered through the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI)
Experience Some employers prefer one of more years of experience
Key Skills Manual dexterity to perform delicate procedures and operate specialized medical equipment; ability to communicate with patients
Salary $54,880 per year (Median Salary for Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians)
Job Outlook Opportunities for employment expected to increase by 22%, or much faster than average, from 2014-2024

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2015), Cardiovascular Credentialing International (www.cci-online.org)

Step 1: Earn a Degree

As we just said, employment as a cardiac catheterization technician requires an associate's degree in invasive cardiovascular technology. Acceptable programs are those accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals (CAAHEP). CAAHEP accredited programs include a combination of classroom work and clinical training. Curriculum requirements include courses in human anatomy and physiology, medical ethics and law, medical terminology, patient care, and pathophysiology.

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Step 2: Obtain Certification

Many employers require cardiac catheterization technicians to have a certification from Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). After graduating from an accredited program, aspiring technicians must pass a comprehensive exam to earn the Certified Cardiovascular Technician (CCT) designation. This exam tests a candidate's knowledge of basic cardiovascular anatomy and physiology, electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) techniques, stress test techniques, cardiac medications, and ambulatory monitoring.

Step 3: Find Employment

Cardiac catheterization technicians may find employment in hospitals and clinics. Some employers may provide additional training in cardiac catheterization. During the first few weeks on the job, an entry-level technician can expect to receive training from either a supervisor or a cardiologist. For example, he or she will learn about basic cardiac hemodynamics, electrophysiology, and x-ray equipment techniques.

Step 4: Qualify as a Technologist

With experience and continuing education, cardiac catheterization technicians can advance to the position of cardiac catheterization technologist. A bachelor's degree in cardiovascular technology improves employment opportunities and can qualify you for administrative positions. Technologists typically receive a higher salary along with greater responsibility. Further credentialing may also be required through Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI), such a certification in cardiac life support.

Let's review. Cardiac catheterization technicians need an associate's degree in invasive cardiovascular technology, after which they may earn a median annual salary of $54,880 in a field that is expected to grow by a much-faster-than-average rate of 22% through 2024.

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