Career Definition for a Cardio Diagnostic Professional
To aid in the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, cardio diagnostic professionals prepare patients for invasive procedures like cardiac catheterization or angioplasty, and administer noninvasive tests like ultrasounds, EKGs, and cardiac sonograms. Duties include cleaning, operating, and maintaining sophisticated equipment, explaining procedures to patients, attaching monitors or electrodes, following established protocols, and ensuring that the test results are recorded in the patients' medical records.
|Required Education||An associate's or bachelor's degree in cardiovascular technology; on-the-job training for noninvasive procedures|
|Job Duties||Include cleaning, operating, and maintaining sophisticated equipment; explaining procedures to patients|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$55,270 (all cardiovascular technologists and technicians)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||10% growth (all cardiovascular technologists and technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Although cardio diagnostic professionals commonly complete a two-year associate's degree, an increasing number opt to increase their chances of advancement by pursuing a bachelor's degree in cardiovascular technology. Some technicians who specialize in select noninvasive procedures may be offered on-the-job training. Many employers require cardio diagnostic professionals to be certified, and certification is available through Cardiovascular Credentialing International or the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.
Cardio diagnostic professionals should be able to follow complex directions and communicate effectively with both physicians and patients. Some competence with machines and computers would be useful. Work is often repetitive, and may require the stamina to stand for most of an eight-hour shift and the strength to lift patients or move heavy machinery.
Career and Economic Outlook
Cardio diagnostic professionals can look forward to brisk job growth in the coming decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as the incidence of heart and vascular disease increases along with the growing elderly population. It's due to increase by 10% between 2016 and 2026 for cardiovascular technologists and technicians. In May 2017, the median annual salary for these positions was $55,270, and wages were higher for those employed in specialty hospitals or working for private health practitioners.
Here are some examples of alternative career options:
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
For those with an interest in operating computerized imaging machines for diagnostic purposes, a diagnostic medical sonography career may be something else to consider. Medical sonographers prepare patients for the procedure, apply a special gel to the body area being examined, move the ultrasound transducer wand over the area and record images for physician review. They also create detailed reports of observations and make sure the equipment is working properly.
An associate degree is generally the minimum education required to enter this field, but other types of healthcare professionals may qualify for positions by competing a certificate program. Employers also prefer sonographers to hold a professional certification. The job outlook is strong for diagnostic medical sonographers; the BLS predicts 23% employment growth between 2016 and 2026. In 2017, diagnostic medical sonographers earned a median yearly income of $71,410.
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Similar to other diagnostic imaging workers, nuclear medicine technologists also capture images of internal body structures using high-tech equipment. How they differ is that they first administer radioactive drugs to enhance the appearance of abnormalities. Nuclear medicine technologists also monitor patients for drug reactions, record images and notes into medical files and answer patient questions about the procedure.
Working in this profession requires an associate or bachelor's degree in nuclear medicine technology, but workers in other occupations, such as nursing or radiologic technology, can complete a certificate program instead. Even though the BLS projects a 10% increase in job opportunities from 2016-2026, nuclear medicine technology jobs will be competitive because the field is relatively small. As reported in May of 2017, nuclear medicine technologists received $75,660 in annual median wages.