Cardiovascular Technologist

A cardiovascular ultrasound technologist works with physicians and assists them in treating patients who have diseases or defects of the heart or blood vessels. Cardiac ultrasound technology, also called echocardiography or cardiac sonography, works by transmitting high-frequency sound waves in the patient’s body and then reflecting those sound waves into an image, called an echocardiogram. Cardiovascular technicians use this technology to create images of the heart, vessels, and valves. Their job is considered “non-invasive” in cardiovascular technology, because it does not require any insertion of medical instruments into the patient’s body. In addition to running these procedures, some other typical duties for this job include scheduling appointments, reviewing patient’s files, preparing the patient and getting the equipment ready, and explaining test procedures or answering basic questions. These workers should also have personable skills to put the patients at ease, and have good communication skills with other health care professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 77% of cardio techs work in hospitals, and others work in the offices of cardiologists, physicians, or in diagnostic imaging centers. There is plenty of room for growth too. With more training, you could learn to take EKGs (electrocardiography), stress testing, and perform Holter monitoring.

Cardiovascular Ultrasound Technologist Training and Education

You will need an associate degree to enter into this profession, and some technicians even start with a four-year bachelor’s degree. Be sure to choose an educational program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals (CAAHEP). Your coursework will include medical ethics, patient care, heart anatomy and pathology, as well as more field-specific instruction, covering noninvasive cardiovascular technology or noninvasive vascular technology.

Certification for Cardiovascular Technicians

Certification is not a nation-wide requirement, but it is usually required by most competitive employers. Certification exams are given by the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) and the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). In order to become a Certified Cardiographic Technician (CCT), you will need to have passed a training program (or earned an associate degree), and must be employed in the field. You will have to pass a one-part exam and pay a fee. You can also order assessment booklets to test your knowledge before applying for the exam.

Cardiovascular Technologist Salary

The average salary for a cardiovascular technologist according to BLS was $47,010 in 2008. The highest 10% earned over $74,000. It also tends to be a little higher in the offices of physicians than it was in larger hospitals. The outlook for this type of technician is excellent. The BLS cites a 24% growth rate for cardiovascular technologists and technicians. This is partly due to the growth of the aging population and the increase of heart disease. However, it is also due to advances in medicine leading to earlier diagnoses of vascular disease, which can mean more procedures being done by cardio techs. Additionally, ultrasound imaging is being used even more than other, more complex procedures as it is more cost-effective and non-invasive. Earning multiple credentials and becoming trained to perform multiple procedures would make you even more marketable. Get started now on your associate degree, and you can get started on this specialty and secure a health care career for your future.

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