How to Become a Cardiovascular Technologist
Work at the very heart of healthcare to improve and save patients’ lives every day.
If you’re interested in medicine and looking for a job in a growing field, you might want to look at how to become a cardiovascular technologist. You’ll work closely with patients and doctors to gather life-saving information and be a vital part of an emergency team when someone is having a heart attack or other health crisis.
A two-year degree puts you on the path to a stable career in the medical field, an industry that is growing along with the U.S.'s aging population. You can make a very good living while helping others live.
What Is a Cardiovascular Technologist?
If you do high-energy exercises like running or biking, you probably know that “cardio” refers to the heart. Cardio workouts increase your heart rate to make your blood pump faster and your vascular system deliver more oxygen to your heart and lungs. A cardiovascular technologist helps evaluate how well this system is working through a variety of tests and procedures.
What Does a Cardiovascular Technologist Do?
As a cardiovascular technologist, you’ll work in a specialty area of diagnostic imaging that focuses on the heart. You may work in a hospital or outpatient cardiac catheterization lab where you’ll perform very complex procedures that allow physicians and surgeons to implant stents and pacemakers and conduct tests that help doctors identify and diagnose heart disease. You may also work in an emergency room, helping patients who are in the midst of a heart attack.
As a cardiovascular technologist, you might also:
- Prepare patients for procedures, answering their questions and taking their medical histories.
- Prepare, maintain, and operate complex diagnostic imaging equipment to conduct tests.
- Look at images and results of the tests you’ve taken to check for quality and to identify abnormal images.
- Provide summaries of test findings for physicians.
- Keep track of patient records.
Take a look at Monster’s cardiovascular technologist job description to get a sense of what skills employers are looking for in candidates.
Cardiovascular Technologist Specialization
You can specialize in one of three areas of cardiovascular technology:
- Non-invasive cardiovascular technologists use echocardiography or EKG technology to record your heart’s electrical signals. The abbreviation uses a K instead of a C for elektrokardiographie, a German word from where the technology was first developed. Along with taking images of the heart, you will also administer stress tests.
- Invasive cardiovascular technologists assist physicians in procedures involving cardiac catherization. A catheter is inserted into a patient’s vascular system to find blockages in blood vessels leading to the heart. While a doctor performs this procedure, you will use EKG equipment to closely monitor the patient’s blood pressure and heart rate. The doctor relies on you to let them know if there are any abnormalities during the procedure. You may also work alongside surgeons to prep and monitor patients during open-heart surgery.
- Peripheral cardiovascular technologists/sonographers work with physicians to identify circulation problems. You will use ultrasound equipment to monitor heart chambers, valves, and blood vessels and listen to the patient’s vascular flow to identify abnormalities. This will allow you to record blood flow, pressure, oxygen saturation, and cerebral and abdominal circulation. A doctor uses this info to diagnose and treat the patient.
How to Become a Cardiovascular Technologist
You don’t need to go to med school to become a cardiovascular technologist. In fact, you can start your career in only two to three years after you graduate from high school. Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Cardiovascular Technologist Education Requirements
Most cardiovascular technologists have an associate degree or a postsecondary certificate from accredited cardiovascular technologist programs. Although it’s not required to get land a job, you can also earn your bachelor’s cardiovascular technologist degree.
Your classes will include anatomy, medical terminology, and applied sciences. Depending on which specialization you choose, you’ll also take courses in either invasive or non-invasive cardiovascular or vascular technology procedures. Along with your classroom time, you’ll get training in the field in a hospital, physician’s office, or imaging laboratory under the guidance of an experienced technologist.
Pumped about starting your career, but need help paying for cardiovascular technologist school? Check out these cardiovascular science scholarships that can help to cover the cost of your education.
If you’re currently working in another role at a hospital, the administration may conduct a one-year certificate program for employees who want to switch career paths.
Cardiovascular Technologist Certification
Although it’s not required, your job opportunities will increase if you have professional certification from Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Your employer may expect you to earn certification shortly after being hired.
To qualify to take the certification exam, you need to complete the required classwork, earn a degree or certificate, and work full time in a healthcare setting as a cardiovascular technologist for at least one year.
Many employers will also want you to also have basic life support (BLS) certification, indicating that you’re trained to perform CPR. You can take a class and get this certification from any local chapter of the Red Cross or the American Heart Association.
What Does a Cardiovascular Technologist Make?
Monster data shows the median cardiovascular technologist salary is $26.71 per hour. Salaries across the field range from $29,710 to more than $94,370, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The highest-paid cardiovascular technologists work in outpatient care centers.
You can look up the average salary for cardiovascular technologists in your location by using the Monster Salary Guide.
How to Find Cardiovascular Technologist Jobs
Now that you know how to become a cardiovascular technologist, it’s time to take the next step by putting together a resume that will get the attention of potential employers and recruiters. Along with your education, experience, and any certifications, be sure to describe how you’ve demonstrated these skills:
- You’re detail oriented and can follow precise instructions.
- You have hand–eye coordination, allowing you to position a patient’s body in response to what you see on a diagnostic equipment screen.
- You have interpersonal skills, enabling you to work with patients who may be in extreme pain or mental distress. Show how you’ve been able to communicate clearly and connect with patients.
- You have physical stamina, so you can be on your feet for long periods and lift and move patients who need assistance.
Once your resume is ready, don’t miss a beat—start looking for your first cardiovascular technologist job on Monster. The BLS has identified these states and areas as having the most cardiovascular technologists:
Get to the Heart of the Job Market as a Cardiovascular Technologist
As you read about how to become a cardiovascular technologist, were you inspired knowing that you’ll be working closely with doctors to save patient’s lives every day? If so, you need to put yourself out there! Upload your resume to Monster for free to pump up your job search and reach the employers and recruiters waiting to put you into circulation.