Cardiac Life Support Technician: Job Description & Career Info

Mar 17, 2019

Find out what a cardiac life support technician does. See what the education and training requirements are, and check the career prospects to decide if this career field is right for you.

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Career Definition for a Cardiac Life Support Technician

A cardiac life support technician, or cardiovascular technician, assists cardiac physicians in treating and diagnosing patients with heart and blood vessel ailments. A cardiac life support technician will also perform ultrasound procedures and operate diagnostic equipment. Additional duties include preparing patients for procedures, analyzing images, and tracking patient records.

Required Education Typically, an associate's or bachelor's degree in cardiovascular technology; certification voluntary
Job Duties Include assisting cardiac physicians with treating and diagnosing patients, performing ultrasound procedures, preparing patients for procedures
Median Salary (2017)* $55,270 (cardiovascular technologists and technicians)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 10% growth (cardiovascular technologists and technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), cardiovascular technicians typically complete an associate's or bachelor's degree program in cardiovascular technology. Although certification isn't required, you can become certified by the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) and the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). The CCI offers four different certifications that you can choose from, including Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist, Registered Cardiac Sonographer, Register Vascular Specialist and Certified Cardiographic Technician. The ARDMS offers both the Registered Vascular Technologist and Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer certifications.

Skills Required

Cardiac life support technicians must know how to operate EKG equipment and other cardiac testing devises. They must be able to assist physicians in cardiac catheterization procedures, which is when a tube is threaded into a patient's artery. Working with physicians and patients can be demanding and taxing, requiring cardiac life support technicians to have flexible personalities and excellent interpersonal skills.

Economic and Career Outlook

A cardiac life support technician may find work at hospitals around the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary of cardiovascular technologists and technicians was $55,270 in 2017, and the states with the highest employment for this occupation in 2017 were Texas, Florida and California. The BLS categorizes cardiac life support technicians among cardiovascular technologists and technicians; it predicts that jobs in this broader field will increase 10% from 2016-2026.

Alternate Career Options

If you're looking for some alternative career options, here are some ideas:

Radiologic Technologist

Radiologic technologists operate the diagnostic scanning machines that produce x-ray and computed tomography (CT) images. They meet with patients beforehand to take down medical history information and position patients properly for the scan. After the test, they give the images to a physician to be read. This job requires at least an associate's degree, although there are bachelor's degree and graduate certificate options. Attendance at an accredited program may be required for state licensure; licensing and certification requirements vary by state but typically include passing an American Registry of Radiologic Technologists exam. Job growth of 12% from 2016-2026 is predicted for this career by the BLS; the median salary for radiologic technologists was $58,440 in 2017.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

A nuclear medicine technologist operates diagnostic machinery that highlights abnormal tissue in the body; this tissue is affected by radioactive drugs given to the patient by the tech just prior to the test. These techs make sure patients are positioned properly, and they also give the images to a physician after the test so that a diagnosis can be made. Aspiring nuclear medicine technologists can earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in nuclear medicine technology; those with a degree in another healthcare field can earn a certificate. Professional certification is available. State requirements for licensure and certification vary. Jobs in this field are expected to increase 10% from 2016-2026, per the BLS; the median pay was $75,660 in 2017.

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