Cardiovascular technicians perform diagnostic tests on the heart and vascular system. They can choose between associate's or bachelor's degree programs that prepare students with theoretical and practical training in the classroom and in the work environment. After earning their degree, many cardiovascular technicians also choose to become certified.
Cardiovascular technologists are assistants to physicians, and they aid in the diagnosis and treatment of heart and blood vessel issues. These technicians generally have an associate's degree or higher, along with professional credentials and clinical experience. Cardiovascular technologists may specialize in such areas as invasive, noninvasive and vascular cardiology.
|Required Education||Associate's degree|
|Certification||Preferred by employers, sometimes required|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||22%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$54,880|
Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Cardiovascular Technologist Education Requirements
Associate's degree programs in cardiovascular technology are the most common type of educational program in the field. These programs engage students in didactic and lab components in addition to clinical experiences and hospital internships. Students learn theoretical concepts related to cardiac health conditions as well as procedures for operating echocardiography equipment, performing diagnostic scans and assisting with treatment. After completing introductory coursework in general sciences and cardiovascular technology, most programs require students to take advanced coursework, focused in either invasive or non-invasive cardiovascular technology.
Though less common, four-year bachelor's degree programs in the field are becoming more readily available. In these programs, the first two years are dedicated to basic science and general education courses, followed by two years of study in advanced health science, an invasive or non-invasive specialty and an extended internship.
After completing their formal training, new cardiovascular technologists often pursue certification. Although certification isn't mandatory in this field, employers may require it - or at least prefer it - since some procedures must be done by a certified tech to qualify for insurance coverage. Gaining certification typically requires that candidates graduate from an accredited training program and complete an examination.
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most cardiovascular technologists were employed in general public and private hospitals in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Other popular places of employment included private cardiology offices, medical laboratories and outpatient care centers.
The BLS predicted that from 2014-2024, as the aging population grew and technology allowed for earlier detection of heart disease, employment opportunities for cardiovascular technologists would increase at the high rate of 22 percent. In May of 2015, the BLS also reported that cardiovascular technologists and technicians earned a median annual salary of $54,880.
The administrative duties of cardiovascular technologists include reviewing doctor and patient documentation, scheduling appointments and monitoring patients' heart rates. They must also be able to look after and operate equipment, explain test procedures to patients and identify medical issues in their test findings.
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians specialize in a variety of areas, which include invasive cardiology, echocardiography, vascular technology, stress testing and electrocardiograms. Those who specialize in invasive procedures assist in the cardiac catheterization during balloon angioplasties and electrophysiology tests. Other duties may include physician assistance with delicate, invasive procedures. Noninvasive specialists typically perform tests, administer drugs, prepare patients for procedures, position patients and monitor patients.
All cardiovascular technicians require a 2- or 4-year degree in cardiovascular technology. They handle the operation and maintenance of their specific equipment and carry out administrative duties related to patient scheduling and documentation, and any additional duties depend on their specialization. Jobs in this field are expected to grow at a much faster than average rate from 2014-2024..