Cardiovascular technologists, also known as cardiovascular technicians, are medical specialists who assist doctors in diagnosing illnesses of the heart, lungs, arteries, and veins. They conduct tests employing high-frequency sound waves and other techniques to detect problems with the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems.

This work involves imaging equipment and other sophisticated technology. Electrocardiograms, lung-capacity tests, spirometers, and sonography are among the numerous methods employed to make diagnoses. Another technique, Holter monitoring, involves the placement of electrodes on a patient to obtain readings of electrical impulses from the heart.

Most cardiovascular techs are employed by hospitals, though many work in laboratories. They earn solid middle-class salaries and enjoy good job security, as they are expected to remain in greater demand than most professionals through at least 2020.

The field offers highly satisfying careers, with practitioners enjoying opportunities to provide crucial assistance to people. They even help save patients’ lives.

Cardiovascular Technologist Job Description

Cardiovascular technologists perform a wide array of duties. They help physicians implant probes (such as catheters), repair blood clots, and insert stents and pacemakers. Other procedures include balloon angioplasty and radio frequency ablation.

Patients suffer from heart disease, impaired lung function, and other ailments. Typical symptoms are chest pain or tightness, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. Understanding a patient’s family medical history is helpful, because heart disease is hereditary.

Specialities within the field are invasive cardiology, echocardiography, and vascular technology. One of the most common jobs is that of a cardiology technologist, who measures heart rates, helps doctors make diagnoses, and conducts invasive as well as noninvasive procedures. Vascular technologists and sonographers detect blood-vessel disorders. Cardiac sonographers and echocardiographers use ulrasound to examine the heart, while cardiovascular technicians specialize in the use of the electrocardiogram.

Cardiovacular technology laboratories specialize in cardiac catheterization, blood gas, electrophysiology, echocardiography, exercise stress testing, electrocardiography, Doppler ultrasound, thermography, and plethysmography.

The cardiovascular technologist job description includes:
  • Meet with patients to explain, and answer questions, about medical procedures
  • Obtain patients’ medical histories
  • Maintain diagnostic equipment, and make sure it is available when tests and other procedures are scheduled
  • Administer anesthetics, and shave and clean patients, to prepare them for diagnostic testing
  • Position patients on exam tables to obtain the desired images
  • Conduct imaging tests, ensuring they are providing the information needed to make diagnoses
  • Consult with the supervising doctor about the test results, and record the findings
  • Operate electrocardiograms to monitor patients’ blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital signs
  • Create, maintain, and update patient records
  • Receive continuing education to remain current about equipment and techniques

Cardiovascular Technologist Prerequisites

A cardiovascular technologist must have effective communication skills, to work with patients and other medical staff. Empathy and attentive listening are needed. This can be a high-pressure job, as patients are often upset and anxious because of their heart problems, breathing difficulties, and other severe ailments.

Diagnostic testing can require standing for hours. An ability to focus and pay attention to details is essential. Cardiovascular techs require the physical strength to shift patients and move heavy equipment. Their services may be needed at odd hours in emergency situations.

How to become a Cardiovascular Technologist

This field offers a chance to be a health-care professional, working alongside doctors, without having to get a medical degree. Only a high school diploma, or equivalent, is required.

Most cardiovascular techs complete a minimum of two-year, associate’s degree programs at community colleges. These programs can last as long as seven years for those studying multiple specialties. The pursuit of an associate’s degree entails classwork and clinical training. Employers commonly look for cardiovascular techs who have completed associate’s degree programs certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

Some cardiovascular techs have bachelor’s degrees in nursing, radiologic technology, or a science (like biology) from vocational schools or four-year colleges. Classes in these programs include anatomy, ethics, and the use of instruments.

Students pursuing bachelor’s degrees also receive practical experience in laboratories. However, the bulk of the training is received during the first four to six weeks on the job.

Cardiovascular Technologist Certification

Most states in the United States require cardiovascular techs to be licensed. Procedures and some requirements vary. Some states mandate that license applicants have a degree from an accredited college. Each state’s medical-licensing board maintains a website with information about how to apply for these credentials.

Many employers require certification from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers or Cardiovascular Credentialing International. A number of them also want their technologists to be trained in basic life support and advanced cardiac life support.

Cardiovascular Technologist/Technician Salary

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Cardiovascular Technologist Job Description

Here is a short recap of the cardiovascular technologist job description:
  • Use imaging technology to diagnose disease of the heart and blood vessels
  • Assist cardiologists and other physicians
  • 2 year associate’s degree minimum
  • Certification/Licensure is voluntary but recommended
  • 30% employment growth by 2022