Cardiovascular technologists and technicians assist physicians in diagnosing and treating cardiac (heart) and peripheral vascular (blood vessel) ailments.
A cardiovascular technologist works in a cardiac cath lab and performs very complex procedures, including stent implants, cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators and other tests to diagnose heart disease. They take emergency calls and participate in saving the lives of those who are having a heart attack.
Cardiovascular technologists may specialize in three areas of practice:
- Invasive cardiology
- Cardiac sonography
- Vascular technology/sonography
Cardiovascular technicians specialize in electrocardiograms (ECGs or EKGs), stress testing and Holter monitors are known as cardiographic or ECG technicians.
Technologists and technicians generally work a five-day, 40-hour week that may include weekends. Those in catheterization labs tend to work longer hours and may work evenings. They also may be on call during the night and on weekends.
Salary Range and Outlook
The median (meaning half make less than that and half make more) salary for cardiovascular technologists and technicians as of May 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $56,100.
A cardiovascular technologist must go to college to get an associate or bachelor’s degree. One year is dedicated to core courses followed by a year of specialized instruction in one of these specialties:
- Invasive cardiology: for students who plan to work in a cardiac catheterization lab or with the cardiac catheterization suite, which sometimes includes electrophysiology
- Noninvasive cardiology: for students who plan to work in Holter monitor, stress and pacemaker testing
- Noninvasive echo cardiology: for students who plan to work with cardiovascular ultrasound
- Noninvasive vascular cardiology: for students who plan to work in peripheral vascular cardiology
To become a cardiovascular technician, you need a high school diploma. You can be trained on the job. You may also choose to attend a certificate program or earn an associate degree.
Accreditation and Credentials
If you are interested in training for either career, look for a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. On completion of the instruction, technologists and technicians can become credentialed in that specialty. Those who are qualified in a related allied health profession (for example, nursing) only need to complete the year of specialized instruction.
Learn More About a Career as a Cardiovascular Technologist or Technician
- Watch the video profile of cardiovascular technologists and technicians (which is located in the Health Science category).
- Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals
- American College of Cardiology
- American Society of Echocardiography