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Career Definition for a Cardiac Catheterization Assistant
Cardiac catheterization assistant is typically a more specific title for an invasive cardiac technician. Cardiac professionals in this field have the training and experience to assist in performing exams that involve threading a small tube through an artery in a patient's groin to the heart to look for or treat blockages and to look for arrhythmias related to heart disease. Cardiac catheterization assistants usually start out as non-invasive cardiac technicians, so they may still be called upon to perform procedures such as EKGs, stress tests, and vascular sonography. The majority of assistants work in hospital settings across the country, and they may even have opportunities to work as traveling technicians. Typical duties include prepping and positioning patients, administering local anesthesia, monitoring patients' vital signs, and assisting during insertion of pacemakers or stents via open heart surgery.
|Education||Associate degree required, bachelor's degrees becoming popular among employers, certification recommended, and licenses may be required in certain states|
|Job Skills||Communication, quick reactions and decision making|
|Median Salary (2017)||$55,270 for cardiac technicians|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)||10% for cardiac technicians|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
While four-year bachelor's degrees are becoming more popular, the typical education level for a cardiac catheterization assistant is a two-year associate's degree that can be obtained from a technical school, college or university. Typical course work includes anatomy, physiology, ethics, and instrumentation. Since assistants have more specialized responsibilities, they usually require more on-the-job training before being able to work unsupervised. Certification through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) or Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) is recommended, and some states require an official license to practice.
Outstanding communication skills are necessary for a cardiac catheterization assistant to be effective when explaining complicated procedures to patients. The ability to think and react quickly in life or death situations is critical, since these invasive exams carry a greater risk for complications.
Economic Outlook and Career Growth
The number of jobs for cardiac technicians is predicted to increase by 10% between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median salary for cardiac technicians was $55,270 in May 2017, as reported by the BLS.
Alternate Career Options
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Nuclear medicine technologists use specialized scanners to record images of the human body where patients have been given radioactive drugs that illuminate abnormal tissues. Nuclear medicine technologists prepare and give this radioactive medication to patients; they also keep patient records, and ensure that the diagnostic machinery is working properly. These techs forward the images to a physician to be reviewed.
Employment requires an associate's or bachelor's degree in nuclear medicine technology. Some states require licensing and some employers require professional certification; minimum education and experience requirements may apply, and testing is common, too. According to the BLS, jobs in this field are expected to increase 10% from 2016-2026; this occupation paid a median salary of $75,660 in 2017.
A radiologic technologist administers diagnostic exams like x-rays and mammograms using specialized machinery. Radiologic technologists position patients properly and take steps to maximize patient safety. They keep patient records and check machines to make sure they're working properly. Radiologic technologists give scanned images to doctors for evaluation and diagnosis.
While earning an associate's degree in radiography is common, aspiring radiologic technologists can also earn a bachelor's degree or graduate certificate in the field. Licensing and certification requirements may apply in some states. Jobs in this field are expected to increase 12% from 2016-2026, according to the BLS, and they paid a median salary of $58,440 in 2017.