Monitor technicians, more commonly known as cardiovascular technicians, need a certificate of completion or an associate's degree, as well as on the job training and professional certification. This is a fast-growing field with average salaries in the high $50,000s.
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Monitor technicians, also known as cardiovascular technicians or technologists, typically work within cardiac care units of hospitals and assist cardiologists. These technicians are responsible for monitoring and interpreting the rhythm patterns of patients' hearts, as well as reporting any irregularities or variations to the appropriate medical staff.
In terms of formal education, individuals will need to earn certificates or associate degrees in cardiovascular or vascular technology. The majority of these programs include clinical training, which allows students to gain experience working with actual patients. Although licensure is not required for professionals in this field, professional certification may be mandatory for some positions. Individuals who meet education requirements are usually eligible to sit for certification exams.
|Required Education||Certificate or associate degree|
|Other Requirements||Professional certification may be required|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||22% for cardiovascular technologists and technicians*|
|Average Salary (2015)||$56,100 for cardiovascular technologists and technicians*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Education and Training Programs
Community colleges and vocational schools offer certificates, associate degrees or continuing education programs in cardiac sonography, electrocardiography or cardiovascular technology, which qualify students to work as monitor technicians. These programs include coursework in anatomy/physiology, hemodynamics, instrumentation, biology, computer technology and patient care. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in addition to completing certificate or associate degree programs, most monitor technicians must also complete on-the-job training. These training sessions can last anywhere from 4-6 weeks.
Besides vocational schools and community colleges, some medical facilities, such as the Mayo Clinic, offer certificate programs for monitor technicians. These 2-6+ month programs may include classroom instruction, video presentations and clinical on-the-job training. Students learn skills in EKG operation and analysis, patient care, cardiac monitoring and instrumentation. Once completed, graduates receive a certificate, which can assist in acquiring jobs in this field.
Professional certification is not always required to become a monitor technician, but certification may impress some employers. Furthermore, insurance companies may not pay for certain medical procedures if monitor technicians are not certified. Certification is available through trade organizations, such as the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography and Cardiovascular Credentialing International.
Monitor technicians should receive training, however informal, in areas regarding the work environment within hospitals or clinics. One must have excellent communication skills and be competent working with a team that includes nurses, cardiologists and various other medical staff. Since a monitor technician may be monitoring heart rhythms of up to 32 patients at one time, exceptional multitasking skills are essential and training where multiple tasks are assigned at one time is invaluable.
Job Outlook and Salary Statistics
The BLS predicted that between 2014 and 2024, open positions for cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including monitor technicians, would grow by 22%. Nowadays, the majority of medical facilities are using advanced cardiovascular and sonography technologies instead of using invasive techniques for monitoring the human body, and as a result the need for workers who can monitor these pieces of equipment is expected to increase significantly. In May 2015, salary statistics reported by the BLS indicated that cardiovascular technologists and technicians earned average annual salaries of $56,100.
Aspiring monitor technicians need an associate's degree or a certificate of completion, as well as hands-on training in order to qualify for this position. Many employers look for certification from a professional organization. The job market for cardiovascular techs should be favorable through the next few years.