Diagnostic Cardiology Technician: Job Duties & Career Requirements

Learn about the work responsibilities of a diagnostic cardiology technician. Discover salary and employment outlook info in addition to educational requirements to determine if this is the right career for you.

Career Definition for a Diagnostic Cardiology Technician

All diagnostic cardiology technicians are in charge of EKGs. For this procedure, the diagnostic cardiology technician puts electrodes on the patient's pulse points to statistically measure the heart. The diagnostic tech then uses the electrocardiograph to gather various heart rate and heart rhythm data, which is recorded on graph paper and a video monitor. He or she flags any possible abnormalities for the doctor to consider.

Education Certificate program
Job Skills Administration and interpretation of Holter monitor test and stress test, good interpersonal skills, ability to maintain equipment
Median Salary (2017)* $55,270 (for cardiovascular technologists and technicians)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 10% (for cardiovascular technologists and technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Needed

Certificates are offered for students to learn Holter monitoring, stress test and simple EKGs; however, community colleges' certificate courses generally last approximately one 3-month quarter. Oftentimes, phlebotomy and EKG tech instruction is combined into the same program. Certification as a cardiographic technician issued by Cardiovascular Credentialing International is not mandatory by some states, but it's a major disadvantage to seek a job without one. Sufficient continuing education credits must be earned every three years to renew certification.

Required Skills

An advanced EKG technician will have learned administration and interpretation of both the Holter monitor test (an EKG measuring a patient's heart during normal activities over a 24-hour period) and stress test (an EKG while the patient is on a treadmill). The cardiology technician needs people skills due to close work with the patient as well as technology maintenance capabilities.

Career and Economics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for cardiovascular technologists and technicians are expected to grow faster than average (10%) over the 2016-2026 decade (www.bls.gov). Additionally, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for cardiovascular technologists and technicians was $55,270 in 2017.

Alternative Careers

Careers similar to a diagnostic cardiology technician include:

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Also assisting doctors in the diagnosis of illness and injury, diagnostic medical sonographers use ultrasound technology to capture images of internal systems and abnormalities. Sonographers set up the computerized imaging machine, rub a specialized gel on the area to be viewed and move a transducer wand around, taking pictures and video. They make notes about what they see and communicate with doctors to make sure all information was collected. For someone not working in the healthcare field, earning an associate or bachelor's degree in sonography is necessary and many choose an area of specialty like abdominal, fetal or breast imaging. Professional certification is also something employers prefer, and some insurance companies require it when paying claims. Very strong employment growth for diagnostic sonographers is expected between 2016 and 2026, with an increase of 23% during this time. As reported by the BLS in May of 2017, medical sonographers earned a median annual salary of $71,410.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Although similar to other types of imaging professionals, nuclear medicine technologists inject radioactive materials into a person's veins before taking images. They also monitor patients for negative drug reactions, produce detailed reports of findings, maintain the equipment and discuss the procedure with patients. Nuclear cardiology, imaging of the heart and blood vessels, is one area of specialty in this field. According to BLS estimates from 2017, about 18,930 nuclear medicine technologists were employed nationwide and received $75,660 in median compensation. The BLS also projects a 10% increase in employment during the 2016-2026 decade.

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