Cardiovascular technologists work with cardiologists to perform basic treatments and diagnostic tests for the heart and blood vessels. Students who enroll in cardiovascular technology associate's or bachelor's degree programs to train for a career in this field gain extensive hands-on practice through clinical work, labs, seminars and internships in healthcare facilities. Graduates can then seek certification from two different medical organizations.
Both program levels require a high school diploma or GED for admission in addition to a clean criminal background check. For the associate's degree, previous coursework in anatomy and physiology might also be required. For the bachelor's degree, students will need to submit satisfactory SAT or ACT scores.
Associate's Degree in Cardiovascular Technology
An associate's degree is the most common degree among cardiovascular technologists. The technologist role is more complex than the cardiovascular technician role, and technicians sometimes receive on-the-job training rather than completing a degree program. The associate's degree program in cardiovascular technology is appropriate both for students new to the field and for working cardiovascular technicians who want to advance to technologist roles.
Cardiovascular technology programs provide basic life science courses as an educational foundation. Classes in medical terminology, pharmacology and communication are common. Typical courses may also include:
- Anatomy, physiology and biology
- Non-invasive cardiology
- Cardiovascular technology processes
- Advanced patient care strategies
Bachelor's Degree in Cardiovascular Technology
A bachelor's degree in cardiovascular technology teaches students advanced cardiovascular technologist skills and practices. With a bachelor's degree, students can obtain cardiovascular technologist positions with greater medical, administrative or supervisory responsibilities. According to the BLS, an increasing number of colleges offer 4-year cardiovascular technology programs, representative of the estimated rate of growth in the field (www.bls.gov).
A bachelor's degree in cardiovascular technology provides comprehensive courses on aspects of medical imaging, patient care and communication, diagnosing vascular ailments and echocardiography. Common courses include:
- Cardiovascular pharmacology
- Invasive cardiovascular procedures
- Vascular ultrasounds
- Communication in medical and health care
- Cardiovascular instrumentation
Employment Outlook and Career Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), cardiovascular technologists and technicians earned a mean annual salary of $56,100 as of May 2015. For the years 2014 through 2024, the BLS estimates that these workers may have an employment growth of 22%. This growth is considered much faster than the national average for all jobs.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
After obtaining an associate's degree in cardiovascular technology, students can seek certification from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) or Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). Each organization offers specialized areas of certification in cardiovascular and cardiographic technology. Although certification is not mandatory, employers often prefer to hire cardiovascular technologists with one of these credentials, according to the BLS. Students can also apply their associate's-level credits toward a bachelor's degree in cardiovascular technology, which could enhance their knowledge, training and career opportunities.
Students can earn an associate's degree or bachelor's degree if they are interested in a career as a cardiovascular technologist. Upon program completion, they can seek certification from the ARDMS or CCI.