Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
Training and Education
|Recommended Degree Level||Associate|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||50,530|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||3.9%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||2,210|
What's needed: An accredited two-year associate's degree is generally all the training that is required to obtain most entry-level cardiovascular technologist positions. Four-year programs are also available in the university setting and provide a more comprehensive grounding in both the medical and the technological aspects of this career path.
What you study:
Coursework for a specialized biology degree program will typically include the following subjects:
- Biology and anatomy
- Basic computer science courses
- Specialized courses in medical technologies
Internships and summer jobs in the medical field can often provide added insight into the job process and can improve the student's chance for employment in larger and more prestigious medical settings.
An introductory look at the cardiovascular tech occupation. Produced for the US Dept. of Labor.
A Day in the Life
In your career as a cardiovascular technologist, you will have almost constant contact with doctors, nurses and patients in a clinical or hospital setting. You may start your morning by performing an ultrasound examination of a patient scheduled for heart surgery later in the day. You may then counsel a new patient regarding her options for improving cardiovascular health and discuss the results of her electrocardiogram with her in detail. After lunch, a physician may call on your assistance to perform a catherization or manage the paperwork generated by the previous procedures.
Your duties can include these kinds of activities:
- Obtaining medical histories from patients
- Helping patients get ready for tests and examinations
- Ensuring the availability of test and exam supplies
- Monitoring the condition of imaging equipment and arranging for repairs as needed
- Safely handling blood and other possible biohazards
- Performing ultrasound and electrocardiogram exams
- Interpreting cardiovascular test results
- Documenting test results to physicians for their evaluations
- Maintaining paper and electronic medical records for each patient
In the course of your daily duties, you'll have a chance to put your people skills to work as your patients will ask you many questions regarding various procedures and tests. You'll also need to discuss your results with doctors and other medical personnel in the clinical environment. Good communication skills will serve you well in this fast-paced medical profession.
Certifications and Licensing
Certification is not required for all cardiovascular technologist positions, but it offers a definite competitive edge in the employment marketplace. A number of different certifications and credentials are available, including the following:
- Registered Vascular Specialist
- Registered Cardiac Electrophysiology Specialist
- Registered Cardiac Sonographer
- Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist
- Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonographer
- Certified Cardiographic Technician
These credentials typically require a combination of education and experience and successful completion of a specialty examination. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography and Cardiovascular Credentialing International are the two best-known certifying bodies for cardiovascular technologists in the U.S.
Full-time versus part-time:
Cardiovascular technologists typically work full time in a clinical or hospital environment. Shift work or overtime hours may be required, especially in hospitals and urgent care clinic settings.
Cardiovascular technologies are constantly evolving as new advances are made in the field of medical science. Cardiovascular technologists specialize in managing these new diagnostic and treatment tools and putting them to work for patients in the health care setting. Here are some of the most useful online resources for aspiring cardiovascular technologists.
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook -- A comprehensive source for current information on employment trends, job responsibilities, educational requirements and other aspects of the job market, this website should be the first stop for anyone interested in a career as a cardiovascular technologist.
- Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals -- Comprised of members representing the administrative, medical and technical elements of cardiovascular treatments and technologies, this prestigious organization provides information and access to continuing education opportunities in this field of medicine. ACP also supports credentialing for professionals in the field of cardiovascular technologies and hosts numerous conferences throughout the year for its membership.
- American College of Cardiology --With over 40,000 members, the ACC is one of the largest nonprofit medical societies in the U.S. and provides its members with access to information and job search functions. The ACC Political Action Committee serves as an advocate for those employed in the cardiology and cardiovascular medical specialties.
- Cardiovascular Credentialing International -- One of the most accepted and best known credentialing agencies for the cardiovascular technology field, CCI offers a number of different certification programs for aspiring cardiovascular technologists. CCI also offers an extensive job search function for those looking for jobs in this fast-paced and exciting medical field.
- Society for Vascular Ultrasound -- Supporting the use of noninvasive cardiovascular imaging technologies in the health care industry, SVU offers a range of programs designed to help cardiovascular technologists achieve their career goals. One of the most important services provided by SVU is its innovative mentoring program, which allows rising starts in the cardiovascular technologies field to learn from the best and brightest in their profession.
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute -- A division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the NHLBI compiles and presents ongoing information on advances in cardiovascular treatments and technologies for public use. The website also provides access to clinical practice guidelines and a number of scholarly articles on the subject of cardiovascular treatments and health.