Become a Cardiac Technician
Cardiac technicians, also called cardiovascular technicians, prepare patients for cardiac procedures, including electrocardiogram (EKG) and stress tests. They also ensure that equipment is ready for use and that the cardiologists are familiar with a patient's medical history. Careers are available in hospitals, medical clinics, cardiologists' offices, and other healthcare environments.
Almost all cardiovascular technologists and technicians work full-time. Those employed by 24-hour care centers like hospitals and urgent care clinics may work evenings, nights, and weekends. Cardiovascular technicians might be exposed to infectious diseases. They spend many hours on their feet and might need to physically move or maneuver patients.
Cardiac technicians must have technical and interpersonal skills and be able to operate complicated cardiac equipment. They also need to be detail-oriented and have good hand-eye coordination and physical stamina.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, cardiovascular technologists and technicians earned an average annual salary of $56,100 as of May 2015.
Let's explore the steps to become a cardiac technician.
|Degree Level||Postsecondary certificate; associate's degree may be required by employers|
|Degree Name||Cardiovascular technology or related field|
|Experience||At least 1 year of experience typically required|
|Certification||Voluntary certifications available|
|Key Skills||Technical and interpersonal skills, detail-oriented, hand-eye coordination, physical stamina, ability to operate complicated cardiac equipment|
|Salary (2016)||$41,587 per year (median salary for all cardiac technicians)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), O*NET OnLine, Salary.com, Online Job Postings (August 2015)
Step 1: Pursue Postsecondary Education
Certificate programs for aspiring cardiac technicians typically last one year and include courses like laboratory assisting and health care systems. Students also could train through a cardiovascular technology associate's degree program, which might offer the option to specialize in invasive or non-invasive tracks. Both tracks will require that students complete coursework and clinical training. Before taking specific invasive or non-invasive cardiovascular technology courses, students will need to complete prerequisite courses in cardiovascular anatomy, pharmacology and electrocardiography.
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Step 2: Complete EKG Training
Electrocardiograms (EKGs) are one of the most commonly used diagnostic tools in cardiology, and many technicians specialize solely in this procedure. While EKG training might take place in a certificate or associate's degree program, it also can be part of an employee training program.
Here's a tip for success:
- Gain related experience. Many employers look for applicants with experience in a related environment, such as an emergency room at a hospital. This can help applicants stand out as well as meet any experience requirements for certification.
Step 3: Obtain Voluntary Certification
Employers often prefer to hire technicians who are certified. Technicians can pursue the Certified Cardiographic Technician (CCT) designation from Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). Obtaining the CCT credential can demonstrate proficiency in EKG, Holter monitoring and stress testing. To become certified, individuals will need to pass an exam that covers topics in cardiovascular anatomy and physiology, stress test techniques, ambulatory monitoring and cardiac medications. As professionals gain additional experience in the field, they can earn specialty certifications, such as Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist, Registered Cardiac Sonographer or Registered Cardiac Electrophysiology Specialist.
Here's another success tip:
- Get certified in basic life support. Before obtaining employment, technicians might be required to earn basic life support certification through an organization like the American Heart Association.
To recap, to become a cardiac technician, you'll need to complete a certificate or associate's degree program as well as EKG training. Obtaining voluntary certification could increase your job prospects.