What you'll do: In your cardiovascular technologist career, you'll diagnose heart (cardiac) and blood vessel (peripheral vascular) problems at the direction of a supervising physician.
Where you'll work: Hospitals, physician's offices, diagnostic laboratories
Degree you'll need: 2-year associate's degree
Median annual salary: $52,070*
Education and Training
The amount of training you'll require depends upon your individual qualifications and the field in which you are interested. If you plan to receive training in both invasive and noninvasive cardiology, it may take longer than focusing on one specific area.
Most cardiovascular technologists complete 2-year programs and receive associate degrees. A 2-year program begins with general education requirements like biology and finishes with specialized classes in your field of interest.
As you start your training or career, you may choose to specialize in any of four areas of practice:
- Cardiology – Known as "cardiology technologists," these specialists help doctors implant cardiac catheters.
- Echocardiography – Cardiovascular technologists who choose this specialty use ultrasound to view patients' hearts.
- Electrocardiography – Called "EKG technicians," these professionals perform electrocardiograms (EKGs), run stress tests and equip patients with Holter monitors.
- Vascular technology – These cardiovascular technologists evaluate blood flow abnormalities.
The first year is dedicated to core courses and is followed by a year of specialized instruction in either invasive, noninvasive cardiovascular, or noninvasive vascular technology. Those who are qualified in an allied health profession need to complete only one year of specialized instruction.
Licensing and Certification
Graduates of programs accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Cardiovascular Technology are eligible to obtain professional certification in cardiac catheterization, echocardiography, vascular ultrasound and cardiographic techniques from Cardiovascular Credentialing International.
Cardiac sonographers and vascular technologists also may obtain certification from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists.
*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.