Working mainly in hospitals, cardiovascular technicians and technologists are primarily tasked with assisting physicians in diagnosing and treating any conditions that have to do with the heart or blood vessels. They are highly trained and specialized members of the medical community who are essential team members in ensuring the health of their patients. They use their knowledge of medical equipment and the cardiovascular system to ensure that their patients are cured of their ailments while taking preventative measures against any others that may come their way.
Cardiovascular Technician and Technologist Job Responsibilities
Cardiovascular technicians and technologists both fill auxiliary roles to the physicians, including scheduling appointments, reviewing results, and keeping track of patient heart rates. They are also responsible for keeping patients abreast of all of the details of the tests they’re undergoing and maintaining the equipment used for such testing.
Cardiovascular technologists can specialize in various areas of practice. Cardiovascular technologists who specialize in invasive procedure, also known as cardiology technologists, primarily assist physicians in the insertion of a catheter into the blood vessels. Technologists who specialize in non-invasive procedures normally use ultrasound or other equipment to preform tests that don’t require any probes to be inserted into the patient’s body. Echocardiographers are specialized technologists who specifically use ultrasound equipment to view the patient’s heart and blood vessels in order to find any abnormalities. Finally, vascular technologists utilize a variety of non-invasive procedures in order to assist physicians and other medical professionals in the diagnosing ailments that effect the patient’s blood circulation.
Cardiovascular technicians are primarily concerned with performing tests and monitoring the heart rates of their patients using a variety of procedures and equipment. The primary piece of machinery used is the electrocardiograph, or EKG, machine. They attach the nodes of the EKG machine to the patient’s body and explain that the machine will read their heart rate during various types of stresses and performances. More often than not, an EKG reading is taken while the patient is running on a treadmill to measure how their heart holds up during physical exercise. EKG readings are also taken before surgery and during routine physical examinations.
Cardiovascular Technician and Technologist Training and Education Requirements
Cardiovascular technologists can complete either a two-year or four-year program from an accredited university in order to become qualified to work in the field. While two years of education is usually the prerequisite for most jobs, it should be noted that as more four-year programs become available, more employers are giving greater preference to those who have spent more time in school. The curriculum in either educational program involves core courses in the cardiovascular system and specialized tutoring in invasive and non-invasive procedures.
Most EKG technicians receive on-the-job training from an EKG supervisor or licensed cardiologist. However, it is usually the case that individuals receiving this training are also students who are in their second year of learning how to become a cardiovascular technologist, and are undergoing this process in order to get some real world experience and build contacts within their field.
Cardiovascular Technician and Technologist Salary and Wages
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians usually earn between $26,000 and $75,000 annually, the median wage being $47,000. Wages differentiate whether the individuals are working in a public hospital or private practice setting—to this end, earnings are usually higher for those working in the latter than the former.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Cardiovascular Technician and Technologist Certifications
There is voluntary certification for both technologists and technicians, but it is highly recommended for most fields. More prestigious employers require cardiovascular certification in order to join their ranks, while certification for a cardiovascular technician can be obtained in lieu of receiving on-the-job training. Both types of certification require sitting for an exam after completing a supplementary educational program.
Cardiovascular Technician and Technologist Professional Associations
There are two main governing bodies which handle the professional certification for cardiovascular technicians and technologists.
Cardiovascular Credentialing International, also known as CCI, is a non-profit body which is primarily concerned with administering credentials to individuals to increase the professionalism of cardiovascular technologists and technicians on a whole. Every area of cardiovascular work, from heart rhythm analysis to cardiac sonography, has its own professional certification associated with it. Each test has different costs and prerequisite requirements, though all of the certifications run on a triennial basis, meaning that the credentials must be renewed every three years.
The American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, or ARDMS, administers tests for the rewarding of three major certifications. Interested parties can receive the certification of Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, or RDMS, Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer, or RDCS, and Registered Vascular Technologist, or RVT. In order to become a RDMS, RVT, or RDCS, individuals must sit for the SPI, or Sonography Principles and Instrumentation, examination. They also must complete a specialty exam that corresponds with their field of choice. In general, the exams for the RDCS deal with echocardiography, while RDMS exams are more concerned with different areas of the body, such as the breast, abdomen, neurosystem, or areas involved in gynecology and obstetrics. Finally, the RVT exam deals mostly with vascular technology. It should be noted that these tests can be taken in any order; once the first exam is passed, however, individuals are expected to take the second exam within the next five years.