Cardiovascular Technologist and Technician

ARRT Technologist (American Registry of Radiologic Technologists Technologist)   More Names
Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory Technologist, Cardiac Catheterization Special Procedures Technologist, Cardiac Catheterization Technician, Cardiac Catheterization Technologist, Cardiac Technician, Cardiograph Operator, Cardiographer, Cardiology Technician, Cardiology Technologist, Cardiopulmonary Technician, Cardiopulmonary Technologist, Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist, Cardiovascular Radiologic Technologist, Cardiovascular Technician, Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT), Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, CATH Lab Radiological Technologist (Catheterization Laboratory Radiological Technologist), Catheterization Laboratory Technician, Computed Tomography Technologist (CTT), Echo Technician, Echocardiographer, EEG Technician (Electroencephalogram Technician), EKG/ECG Technician (Electrocardiogram Technician), Electrocardiogram Technician (EKG Technician), Electrocardiograph Operator, Electrocardiograph Technician, Electrocardiographic Technician, Holter Scanning Technician, Invasive Cardiovascular Technologist, Laboratory Technician (Lab Technician), Laboratory Technologist (Lab Technologist), Monitor Technician, Nuclear Medicine Technologist, Perfusionist, Pulmonary Function Technician, Pulmonary Function Technologist, Radiographer, Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS), Sonographer, Telemetry Monitor Technician, Telemetry Technician, Vascular Technician, Vascular Technologist

Assist physicians in testing, diagnosing, and treating heart and blood vessel ailments. Monitor patient's blood pressure and heart rate using electrocardiogram (EKG) equipment during diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

Explain testing procedures to patients to obtain cooperation and reduce anxiety. Observe gauges, recorder, and video screens of data analysis system during imaging of the cardiovascular system. Inform cardiologists and other involved physicians of the results.

Cardiovascular technologists and technicians work primarily in hospitals, especially in cardiology departments. The remaining positions are chiefly in the offices of physicians, including cardiologists, and in medical and diagnostic laboratories, including diagnostic imaging centers.

Cardiovascular technologists and technicians schedule appointments, review physicians' interpretations and patients' files, and monitor patients' heart rates. They also operate and care for testing equipment, explain test procedures, and compare findings to a standard to identify problems. Day-to-day activities vary significantly with specialties, especially for cardiovascular technologists who have more complex responsibilities than cardiovascular technicians.

There are three types of cardiovascular technologistprofessionals: invasive, echocardiography, and vascular technology. Invasive cardiovascular technologists work with diagnostics and interventions. Echocardiography technologists primarily perform diagnostic procedures, but also may conduct some echo interventions. Vascular technologists focus largely on performing diagnostic work.Cardiovascular technicians are involved mostly in involved with EKG, Holter, Stress and Pacemaker tests and studies.

Cardiology technologists specialize in invasive cardiology procedures. They assist physicians with cardiac catheterization procedures in which a small tube, or catheter, is threaded through a patient's artery from a spot on the patient's groin to the heart. This procedure is used to determine whether a blockage exists in the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle and also to help diagnose other cardiac problems. Some of these procedures may involve balloon angioplasty, which is used to treat blockages of blood vessels or heart valves without the need for heart surgery.

Cardiology technologists assist physicians as they insert a catheter with a balloon on the end to the point of the obstruction. Catheters are also used in electrophysiology tests, which help locate the specific areas of heart tissue that give rise to the abnormal electrical impulses that cause arrhythmias. During procedures, they monitor a patient's blood pressure and heart rate with EKG equipment and notify the physician if something appears to be wrong. Some cardiology technologists also prepare and monitor patients during open-heart surgery and during the insertion of pacemakers and stents that open up blockages in arteries to the heart and major blood vessels.

Cardiac sonographers or echocardiographers specialize in performing noninvasive tests, such as echocardiographies. They use ultrasound to examine the heart chambers, valves, and vessels. This ultrasound instrumentation creates images called echocardio-grams. These tests are called "noninvasive" because they do not require the insertion of probes or other instruments into the patient's body.

An echocardiogram may be performed while the patient is either resting or physically active. In addition, cardiac sonographers may administer medication to physically active patients to assess their heart function. Cardiac sonographers also may assist physicians to perform other related procedures.

Vascular technologists or vascular sonographers assist physicians in the diagnosis of disorders affecting the blood circulation system. They evaluate a patient's pulse and assess blood flow in arteries and veins by listening to the vascular flow sounds for abnormalities. They perform noninvasive procedures using ultrasound instruments to record vascular information such as vascular blood flow, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, cerebral circulation, peripheral circulation, and abdominal circulation.

Many times these vascular tests are performed during or immediately after surgery. Vascular technologists then provide a summary of findings to the physician to aid in patient diagnosis and management.

As a general rule, cardiovascular technicians have less formal education and training in cardiovascular procedures than cardiovascular technologists. Like cardiovascular technologists, however, they also may have areas of specialization.

For example, cardiovascular technicians who specialize in electrocardiography (EKG) stress testing and perform Holter monitor procedures are known as cardiographic or EKG technicians. They conduct EKG tests, which trace electrical impulses transmitted by the heart, attach electrodes to the patient's chest, arms, and legs, and then adjust controls on an EKG machine to obtain a reading. The EKG then is printed out for interpretation by a physician. This test is done before most kinds of surgery and as part of a routine physical examination.

EKG technicians with advanced training perform Holter monitor and stress testing. For Holter monitoring, technicians place electrodes on the patient's chest and attach a portable EKG monitor to the patient's belt. Following twenty-four or more hours of normal activity by the patient, the technician removes a tape from the monitor and places it in a scanner. After checking the quality of the recorded impulses on an electronic screen, the technician prints the information from the tape for analysis by a physician. Physicians use the output from the scanner to diagnose heart ailments, such as heart rhythm abnormalities or problems with pacemakers.

For a treadmill stress test, EKG technicians document the patient's medical history, explain the procedure, connect the patient to an EKG monitor, and obtain a baseline reading and resting blood pressure. Next, they monitor the heart's performance while the patient is walking on a treadmill, gradually increasing the treadmill's speed to observe the effect of increased exertion. Cardiovascular technicians who perform EKGs, Holter monitoring, and stress tests also are known as noninvasive technicians.

Both cardiovascular technologists and technicians must be reliable, have good mechanical aptitude, and be able to follow detailed instructions. A relaxed manner for putting patients at ease is also an asset. They also must be able to communicate clearly with physicians, patients, and other medical staff.

Cardiovascular technicians may advance to the technologist level with additional formal education and training. Cardiovascular technologists may advance their careers by assuming increased amounts of responsibility, including supervisory or management positions. Advancement also may occur through multiple credentialing in more than one cardiovascular specialty.

Credentials Needed: Cardiovascular technologists and technicians are not required to be state licensed or registered. Many employers, however, prefer that cardiovascular technologists obtain a voluntary industry-based certification.

Credentialing for cardiovascular technologists is available from Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) and the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). Most credentials require that technologists complete an accredited education program to qualify for a certification examination.

Some Key Things to Remember: Cardiovascular technologists and technicians assist physicians in testing, diagnosing, and treating heart (cardiac) and blood vessel (peripheral vascular) ailments. Cardiovascular technologists require more formal education and training than cardiovascular technicians and often work in one of several specialized areas. Cardiovascular technologists typically need an associate's degree for entry-level employment, while cardiovascular technicians may start with a high school diploma or GED certificate. Neither cardiovascular technologists nor technicians are required to be state licensed or registered.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
22% - Much faster than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $37,690 - $73,050    Hourly: $18 - $35
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

Requires near vision. Should be able to see details of objects at a close range (within a few feet of the observer). Speech Clarity is required. Should be able to speak clearly so listeners understand.

Legal Requirements
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(Data Drawn from O*NET)

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Associate's Degree (High School + 2 or more Years)
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Percent Job Growth:

22% - Much faster than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $37,690 - $73,050

Hourly: $18 - $35