Cardiovascular Technician: Job Description and Career Information

Learn about the education requirements for cardiovascular technicians. Find out the job duties and employment outlook for this career, and discover some alternative career options.

Career Definition for Cardiovascular Technicians

Cardiovascular technicians use a variety of procedures and instruments to diagnose and treat heart disease and vascular problems. Entry-level technicians perform electrocardiograms (EKGs) and may set up stress tests and Holter monitoring. With experience and additional training, a technician can perform more diagnostic tasks, using sonography and other types of non-invasive procedures, as well as advanced life support techniques. Most positions for cardiovascular technicians are found in hospitals and require a 40+ hour work week that could include evenings, weekends, and holidays. Techs spend long hours walking or standing, and may be required to move heavy equipment or assist in moving patients.

Education Associate's or bachelor's in appropriate field
Job Duties Perform electrocardiograms, stress tests, and Holter monitoring
Median Salary (2017)* $55,270 (all cardiovascular technicians and technologists)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 10% (all cardiovascular technicians and technologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

Most cardiovascular technicians earn associate's degrees from accredited programs at colleges, vocational schools or universities, though bachelor's degrees are increasingly available and popular. One year of study is typically devoted to core classes in anatomy, ethics, and instrumentation, with the following year focused on hands-on instruction. Continuing education and on-the-job training keep professionals abreast of new procedures after formal courses are complete.

Licensure and Certification Requirements

Cardiovascular technicians can seek certification from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) and Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). Some states also require licensure to practice, so those interested in a cardiovascular career should consult their state's medical board to determine requirements.

Required Skills

A cardiovascular technician needs the ability to communicate technical information clearly to patients of all ages. Techs also must be patient and understanding to be able to calm patients who will be undergoing potentially uncomfortable and intimidating procedures.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects that employment growth for cardiovascular technicians and technologists will be faster than the average for all occupations, at a rate of 10% from 2016 to 2026. This growth projection is based on the increasing number of patients with cardiovascular disease, an aging population, and advances in technology. Additionally, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for cardiovascular technologists and technicians was $55,270 in 2017.

Alternative Career Options

Similar career options in this field include:

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Those interested in operating technology in the health care field might want to explore the career of diagnostic medical sonography. Sonographers use high-frequency equipment to produce images of the inside of the human body. They may specialize in one body part, such as the abdomen or nervous system. Like cardiovascular technicians, these workers typically need an associate's or bachelor's degree. Health care workers who want to change careers may only need a certificate from a hospital sonography program. Licensure is required in some states, and professional certification is common. In May 2017, diagnostic medical sonographers earned a median annual salary of $71,410, according to the BLS. The BLS projects that jobs in this field will expand at a much-faster-than-average rate of 23% from 2016 to 2026.

Radiologic Technologist

Radiologic technologists operate x-ray and computed tomography machines in hospitals, doctor's offices, and other medical facilities. Radiologic technologists also position patients for x-rays and ensure patient safety. Most enter this profession with an associate's degree in radiography from a Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) accredited program. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists offers professional certification in this field, which is required for licensure in some states. The BLS reports that the median annual salary for radiologic technologists was $58,440 in 2017. Job openings for these workers are expected to increase by 12% from 2016 to 2026, according to the BLS.


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