Cardiovascular technologists work with physicians, assisting them in diagnosing and treating heart and blood vessel problems. They specialize in three areas: invasive cardiology, echocardiography, and vascular technology. Those specializing in invasive procedures assist physicians with cardiac cathaterization to determine if the patient has blockage in their blood vessels. They also assist physicians with balloon angioplasty, which treats blockages of the blood vessels without heart surgery. Cardiovascular technologists who specialize in echocardiography perform noninvasive tests with ultrasound equipment which are used by physicians to diagnose ailments. They check images on the ultrasound screen and decide which images to add to their report. Cardiovascular technologists who specialize in vascular technology evaluate pulses by listening to the sounds of the arteries for abnormalities. These tests are usually performed during or immediately after surgery.
Cardiovascular technologists should have an aptitude for mechanical work. They need to be able to follow detailed instructions and be reliable. The must have the ability to ease patients' minds with their relaxed and calm personality.
In 2002, cardiovascular technologists earned a median annual salary of $36,430. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $20,920, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $56,080.
Training and Education
Most cardiovascular technologists are trained through 2- and 4-year programs. They usually complete 2-year junior or community college program. The first year focuses on core courses, and the second moves on to specialized instruction in either invasive, noninvasive cardiovascular, or noninvasive vascular technology. Individuals who already have training in an allied health profession only need to complete the second specialized year. There are 29 programs in the U.S. that are accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Cardiovascular Technology. Graduates from these programs are eligible to obtain professional certification in cardiac catheterization, echocardiography, vascular ultrasound, and cardiographic techniques from Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Certification is also available from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medial Sonographers.
In 2002, cardiovascular technologists, including technicians, held about 43,000 jobs. 75% worked in hospitals, usually in cardiology departments. The rest worked in offices of physicians, including cardiologists; or in medical and diagnostic laboratories, including diagnostic imaging centers.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of cardiovascular technologists is expected to increase faster than the average. The aging population will have higher incidences of cardiovascular problems, creating more demand for the services of cardiovascular technologists.
For more information on becoming an cardiovascular technologist, please see our directory of schools offering Cardiovascular Technician Training