Cardiac Catheterization Technologist: Job & Career Info

Read on to learn what a cardiac catheterization technologist does. See what kind of education and training are required for employment. Get the details about career prospects to decide if this job is a good fit for you.

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Career Definition for a Cardiac Catheterization Technologist

Cardiac catheterization technologists assist physicians with procedures that monitor and increase blood flow to the heart, such as the placement of tiny balloon catheters used to open clogged arteries called Intra-Aortic Balloon Pumps (IABPs). Technologists may use catheterization to measure a patient's blood flow and obtain blood samples; they test samples, administer clot-dissolving drugs, read X-rays to monitor the position of a patient's IABP, and reposition or remove an IABP under a doctor's supervision. They also record patient data taken during electrocardiograms (EKGs) and blood pressure readings. Cardiac catheterization technologists are employed by health care facilities throughout the United States, and they work in operating rooms, intensive care units, and cardiac catheterization labs.

Education Associate degree required, bachelor's degrees also offered,
Certification Exam available through Cardiovascular Credentialing International
Job Skills Cardiac anatomy knowledge, data entry, communication skills, ability to work under pressure
Median Salary (2015) $54,880 for cardiovascular technologists
Job Growth (2014-2024) 22% for cardiovascular technologists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

An associate's degree in cardiac catheterization technology, cardiovascular technology, or health sciences is generally required for employment; however, many schools also offer bachelor's degrees in these fields, too. Degree programs should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

Certification Requirements

Some employers may require Cardiovascular Credentialing International certification as a Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist. Basic Cardiac Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification may also be required. Some employers may require registered nursing licensure as well, which requires completion of an approved diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree program and a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination.

Essential Skills

Cardiac catheterization technologists must have expert knowledge of technical devices used in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease, in addition to cardiac anatomy, physiology, and hemodynamics. They must have strong communication skills and the ability to interact with physicians and coworkers in high-pressure situations. A good bedside manner is also important when working with patients. These professionals must be analytical and detail-oriented, with good computer, word processing, and data entry skills.

Economic Forecast and Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2015, the areas where the highest average salaries were paid to cardiovascular technologists were Alaska, Washington D.C., and Massachusetts. The BLS predicts 22% employment growth for cardiovascular technologists and technicians for the 2014-2024 period. As of May 2015, the BLS reported a median expected salary of $54,880 for a typical cardiac catheterization technologist.

Alternate Career Options

For other careers in healthcare imaging, consider these options:

Radiologic Technologist

Radiologic technologists operate machines that produce diagnostic images such as x-rays. They inform patients about what to expect, position them properly for the test, and send the diagnostic images to physicians to be read. Radiologic technologists are also responsible for administrative tasks like patient record keeping and maintenance of the machines they use.

It's possible to train for this career through an associate's or bachelor's degree program in radiography or a graduate certificate for those with a bachelor's degree in another field; entry into the field with an associate's degree is most common. State licensure and certification requirements may apply; states often require a passing score on a test given by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. The BLS predicts that jobs in this field will increase 9% from 2014-2024. Radiologic technologists earned median pay of $56,670 in 2015, per the BLS.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

A nuclear medicine technologist operates diagnostic scanning machinery that picks up images of normal and abnormal tissues after the patient has been given special radioactive medicine. Nuclear medicine technologists oversee all aspects of the test, from administering the medication and sending the images to a doctor to be assessed, to maintaining the machinery in good working order and keeping patient records.

This career requires at least an associate's degree in nuclear medicine technology; those with a degree in a related health care field may earn a certificate in nuclear medicine technology. Some states require nuclear medicine technologists to hold a state license. Professional certification is also available and sometimes required by employers. The BLS predicts that employment of nuclear medicine technologists will increase 2% from 2014-2024; the agency also reports that this occupation paid a median salary of $73,360 in 2015.

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