Career Definition for Cardio Technologists
Cardiovascular technologists are employed at hospitals, physicians' offices, and diagnostic labs. They schedule appointments, take medical histories, set up and maintain medical and diagnostic equipment, monitor patients during diagnostic and surgical procedures, conduct diagnostic tests, and prepare reports or summaries of findings for physician interpretation. Cardiovascular technologists who specialize in invasive cardiology help prepare patients for cardiac catheterization and other surgical procedures. They also monitor patients' blood pressure and heart rate and assist cardiologists during surgical procedures. Those who specialize in non-invasive technology conduct diagnostic tests by using medical sonography and electrocardiography (EKG). They may also be responsible for conducting treadmill stress tests and Holter monitoring.
|Education||Associate's or bachelor's in cardiovascular or radiology technology|
|Job Duties||Help cardiologists diagnose, monitor, and treat cardiac patients|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$55,270 (all cardiovascular technologists and technicians)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||10% (all cardiovascular technologists and technicians)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Most cardiovascular technologists complete 2-year programs and earn an associate degree in cardiovascular technology, although 4-year programs that award Bachelor of Science degrees are also available. Some cardio technologists, especially those who specialize in non-invasive procedures, may hold degrees in radiologic technology. Coursework in cardiovascular technology programs may include cardiovascular physiology, medical instrumentation, diagnostic procedures, and cardiovascular pharmacology.
Because they must operate and maintain advanced medical equipment, cardiovascular technologists should possess general technical knowledge and mechanical aptitude. The ability to follow instructions and maintain detailed records is also important. Cardio technologists, especially those who specialize in invasive technology, should be able to work under pressure. They should also possess good oral communication skills in order to relay information to physicians and explain procedures to patients.
Career and Economic Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for cardiovascular technologists and technicians is expected to grow by 10% from 2016 to 2026 (www.bls.gov). Those who are trained in sonography, stress testing, and Holter monitoring will have better job prospects than those who can only perform EKG. The median annual salary of cardiovascular technologists was $55,270 in 2017.
Similar career options in this field include:
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist
For those interested in operating high-tech imaging machines and assisting doctors with diagnosing diseases and injuries, becoming a magnetic resonance imaging technologist could be the right choice. MRI technologists set up the procedure, administer a contrast dye to the patient, operate computerized controls, take pictures, prepare physician reports, and keep equipment running properly. Most people enter this profession by earning an associate degree in MRI technology and many start out working in a radiology tech position before advancing to MRI procedures. Licensing or certification of technologists is required in some states and generally involves passing an exam and completing an education program. Based on projections from the BLS, job opportunities for radiologic and MRI techs should increase by 13% during the 2016 to 2026 decade. As seen in BLS estimates from May of 2017, these professionals received a median annual income of $60,070.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
If performing diagnostic procedures using ultrasound technology sounds appealing, consider becoming a medical sonographer. After prepping the patient and applying a special gel on the body, sonographers capture still and video images by moving a transducer across the skin. Most specialize in specific areas such as the skeletal or nervous systems, the abdomen, obstetrics, or breast imaging. An associate degree is the path many take to enter the field and licensing is required in some states. Professional certification is also preferred by some employers and exams are available in many areas of specialty. According to 2017 BLS reports, about 68,750 diagnostic medical sonographers were employed in the U.S., and they earned a median salary of $71,410 that year. An employment growth of 23% is predicted for these sonographers between 2016 and 2026.