Cardiovascular Technologist Career Facts

A cardiovascular technologist will help physicians perform cardiac catheterizations and other non-invasive procedures based on their training and experience.

Basic Tasks

A cardiovascular technologist will assist the physician to perform a cardiac catheterization where a plastic tube is inserted into a patient's vein or artery in an arm or a leg and then extended into the heart chambers or the coronary arteries. The catheter will measure oxygen levels in the blood or the performance of the heart. The catheterization may also involve injecting dye into the patient or performing a coronary angioplasty. In addition to using the catheter, the cardiovascular technologist will also monitor the patient's heart rate with an EKG monitor. Cardiac catheterizations are performed on both adult and pediatric patients.

Cardiovascular technologists will also complete clerical duties such as entering patient data into charts, recording test results in patient information databases and providing this information to physicians. They may also schedule appointments, clean equipment and order necessary supplies. Cardiovascular technologists will also assist as scrub assistants for procedures completed in the lab.

Frequent bending, reaching and kneeling, as well as lifting patients and equipment are requirements for these positions. In addition to the phsyical requirements, cardiovascular technicians are expected to have good judgement, work with minimal supervision, and are able to interact with healthcare professionals, take direction from physicians and supervisions, advise and assist patients in a friendly and compassionate manner. They may also help in the training of new staff members and supervise the work of other technicians and technologists.

Most cardiovascular technologists work full time, sometimes on call, so they can work any shift in the hospital and may have to work on weekends and holidays. There are also opportunities for overtime and some positions may require the technologist to work a twelve hour shift. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about twenty percent of cardiovascular technologists worked part-time.

Salary

The average wage for cardiovascular technologists is $22/hour, approximately $43,000/ year. Most cardiovascular technicians are employed in hospitals and receive an hourly wage of $22/hour, while cardiovascular technicians that work in diagnostic and medical laboratories receive $27/hour. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top paying states for this occupation are New Jersey, Washington and Massachusetts. Other benefits may include tuition assistance or funds for additional or ongoing professional development, though the availability of these benefits will depend on the employer's discretion.

Opportunities

Some EKG technicians will complete the necessary training to become a cardiovascular technologist, so this position is considered a promotion. According to the national salary averages from Indeed.com, this promotion is a definite advance in salary, with EKG technicians making an average annual salary of $36,000 while cardiovascular technologists make $61,000/ year. To become a cardiovascular technologist, it is necessary to complete a two-year associates degree and they will usually complete the Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) from Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) though certification is usually voluntary. A cardiovascular technologist can also pursue training in non-invasive techniques such as echocardiography, where an ultrasound is used to analyze the patient's cardiovascular system.