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Cardiopulmonary Technician: Job Duties & Career Info

Cardiopulmonary technicians are responsible for assisting physicians who specialize treating conditions of the cardiopulmonary system (heart and lungs). Read on to learn what cardiopulmonary technicians do and what kind of education and training are required. Learn about the career outlook and earning potential to decide if this field is right for you.

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Career Definition for a Cardiopulmonary Technician

Cardiopulmonary technicians need to be familiar with the mechanics of the cardiopulmonary system and must also be able to operate the technological equipment used in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiopulmonary problems. Daily tasks for cardiopulmonary technicians may include monitoring patients' vital signs before and during procedures, reporting relevant data to physicians, explaining upcoming procedures to patients to reduce anxiety, and maintaining sterility of instruments during procedures.

Education Jobs available with a high school diploma, employers prefer associate or bachelor's degrees
Job Skills Communication, attention to detail, aptitude for learning new skills, teamwork
Median Salary (2015)* $54,880 (for cardiovascular technicians)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 22% (for cardiovascular technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

According to O*NET OnLine, cardiopulmonary technicians generally receive a fair amount of on-the-job training and may be able to find work with just a high school diploma, but some employers may prefer to hire cardiopulmonary technicians with an associate or bachelor's degree. Additionally, some states may require cardiopulmonary technicians and other cardiovascular medical support professionals to obtain official licensure.

Skills Required

In addition to the technical knowledge received during on-the-job training or in school, cardiopulmonary technicians will need to possess good written and verbal communication skills in order to ensure physician and patient understanding. Depending on an employer's needs, cardiopulmonary technicians may need to be able to operate technologically advanced equipment such as electrocardiogram machines, ultrasound machines, and defibrillators. Additionally, cardiopulmonary technicians need to be able to pay close attention to detail, think quickly under pressure, work as part of a team, and quickly learn new skills, including the use of new technological equipment.

Career and Economic Outlook

Earnings for cardiopulmonary technicians can vary based on experience and employment situation. However, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data showed that median annual earnings for cardiovascular technicians, including cardiopulmonary technicians, were $54,880 as of May 2015. Additionally, the BLS stated that employment opportunities for cardiovascular technicians are expected to grow 22%, much faster than average, from 2014-2024.

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Alternate Career Options

Check out these alternatives for careers in healthcare:

MRI Technologist

An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) technologist performs specialized diagnostic imaging exams. He or she gives patients an injection of contrast dye, and then operates the MRI machine so that images of the area in question can be captured and transmitted to a physician to be read. It's possible to enter this career through an accredited associate's or bachelor's degree program or a graduate certificate program in the field. Many MRI technologists begin employment in this field as radiologic technologists, giving x-rays and similar tests and earning professional licensing as radiologic technologists before practicing MRI exams. Technologists with enough MRI experience can sit for the professional MRI certification exam. State regulations regarding the education, training, and professional licensing of MRI technologists can vary. According to the BLS, the number of jobs for MRI technologists is expected to increase 9% from 2014-2024, with most jobs in hospitals, followed by doctors' offices and outpatient clinics. MRI technologists earned median pay of $58,120 in 2015, per the BLS.

Medical Laboratory Technician

Medical lab technicians work under the direction of medical lab technologists or other senior staff to carry out typical lab tests that have been ordered by doctors. They use specialized instruments to look at biological samples such as blood and tissue and report their findings to a physician. Depending on their training and experience, some medical lab technicians can specialize in performing certain kinds of tests. Medical laboratory technicians typically have at least an associate's degree in clinical lab sciences; qualified workers in related fields may be able to enter the career through a certificate program in clinical lab sciences. Some states require professional certification or licensing. Jobs in this field are expected to increase 16% from 2014-2024, per the BLS, and they paid a median salary of $50,550 in 2015.

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