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Healthcare Career Directory

Cardiovascular Technologist and Technician

Cardiovascular technologists perform an echocardiogram on an infant.

Job Description: Cardiovascular technologist and technicians assistant physicians (usually cardiologists) in diagnosing and treating heart and vascular (blood vessels) disorders. They often perform additional office duties such as scheduling appointments, preparing patient files for physician review, and completing insurance forms with correct terminology.

Cardiovascular technologists monitor patients’ heart rates during testing operate and care for testing equipment. Technologists may specialize in different areas of cardiac testing, such as invasive cardiology procedures, non-invasive procedures, or vascular technology.  Technicians usually specialize in electrocardiograms (EKGs) and stress testing.

Depending on the specialization, there could be quite a difference in work between a cardiovascular technologist and a technician.  For example, a technologist specializing in invasive procedures may assist a physician in cardiac catheterizations in which a small tube (catheter) is threaded through a patient artery to the heart. The procedure can show if there is a blockage in an artery that would restrict blood flow.

Vascular technologists assist physicians in the diagnosis of ailments concerning blood vessels and circulation. They evaluate pulse rates and blood flow through arteries and veins and perform tests using ultrasound to record blood flow, blood pressures, oxygen concentrations and the quality of blood circulation through the body.

Technicians take electrocardiograms by attaching electrodes the patient’s chest, arms, and legs. They obtain a printout of the readings for interpretation by the physician. They also perform stress testing in hospitals and doctors’ offices and clinics.

Education and Training: An associate degree for entry-level jobs is usually needed for this occupation. Technicians can also receive on-the-job training. Most cardiovascular technologists complete a two-year program at vocational or community college and receive an associate degree. Four-year programs are becoming more available.

Salary: Median annual wages of cardiovascular technologists and technicians were $47,010 in May 2008. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,510, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,760.

Job Outlook:  Employment in cardiovascular technology is expected to grow faster than the average occupation, increasing by 24% through 2018.