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Considering Work as a Cardiovascular Technologist or Technician?

Significant Points

Healthcare is a necessity to our country. Nursing and healthcare technician jobs are often unglamorous, but have the potential to be vastly rewarding in personal, financial, and intellectual ways, providing interesting challenges and opportunities for enthusiastic people. There are numerous degrees available for different types of work in the medical field. One job that is in high demand in hospitals is for cardiovascular technologists and technicians.

Cardiovascular technologists and technicians assist physicians in diagnosing and treating cardiac (heart) and peripheral vascular (blood vessel) ailments. These technicians typically need a 2-year associate degree at a junior or community college and may require a professional credential. Those with multiple professional credentials, trained to perform a wide range of procedures, will have the best career prospects.

Nature of Work

Work for a cardiovascular technologist or technician can include scheduling appointments, reviewing physicians’ interpretations and patient files, monitoring patients’ heart rates, operating and caring for testing equipment, explaining test procedures, and comparing findings to a standard to identify problems.

Daily tasks can vary according to specialties. Technologists can specialize in invasive cardiology or non-invasive cardiology, which includes echocardiography, or vascular technology. Technicians specialize in electrocardiograms and stress testing.

The job can be stressful. In addition to many hours spent walking, standing and heavy lifting, cardiovascular technologists and technicians are in close contact with seriously ill patients and patients are more likely than the average patient to have complications with life-or-death consequences.

Generally, technologists and technicians work a 5 day, 40 hour week that may include weekends. Those who work in catheterization labs can expect to work longer hours and sometimes evenings, as well as being on call during nights and weekends.

Education and Training, Qualifications, and Advancement

There are 2 and 4 year training programs available. The first year of study consists of core courses and the second year involves specialized instruction in either invasive cardiovascular, noninvasive cardiovascular, or noninvasive vascular technology. If you are qualified in an allied health profession, only the year of specialized instruction is needed.

EKGs and Holter monitoring training can take place on the job, but 1-year certification programs are also available.

Other things a technologist can do include advancing to supervisory or management positions, working in an educational setting, or conducting lab work.

Cardiovascular technologists and technicians held about 49,500 jobs in 2008 and employment is expected to grow much faster than the average. About 77 percent of jobs were in hospitals (public and private), primarily in cardiology departments. The remaining jobs were mostly in offices of physicians, including cardiologists, or in medical and diagnostic laboratories, including diagnostic imaging centers. Employment is expected to increase 24 percent through the year 2018 due to increased prevalence of heart disease and an aging population.

Pay Rate

In May 2008, median annual wages of cardiovascular technologists and technicians were $47,010 with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $25,510, and the highest 10 percent earning more than $74,760. Median annual wages of cardiovascular technologists and technicians in 2008 were $48,590 in offices of physicians and $46,670 in general medical and surgical hospitals.

Similar occupations which involve operating sophisticated equipment and aiding physicians and other health practitioners in diagnosing and treating patients include diagnostic medical sonographers, nuclear medicine technologists, radiation therapists, radiologic technologists and technicians, and respiratory therapy technicians.

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