Cardiovascular Technicians help cardiologists diagnose and treat heart and blood flow problems, in addition to the everyday tasks of scheduling appointments, reviewing patient files, taking care of testing equipment, and communicating with patients. Technicians can specialize in invasive cardiology, non-invasive cardiology, or vascular technology, as well as electrocardiograms and stress testing (which is fun because you get to make people run on treadmills). Invasive cardiology involves procedures like threading a catheter through an artery from the groin to the heart to see whether blood vessels are being blocked. If you think that’s icky, you’d best stick with the stress testing, or other non-invasive specialties like echocardiography, vascular technology, or sonography which uses sound waves to detect blockages and assess heart health.
Cardiovascular technicians make good money. The average annual income was $47,000 in 2008 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10% earned under $25,500, and the highest earned over $74,760. Technicians who are trained to perform a range of procedures and who hold multiple credentials will have an easier time finding jobs and earn higher pay. With the aging population and the prevalence of heart disease, this career is expected to grow, especially in the non-invasive areas as technology improves. Ultrasound technicians, like cardiac sonographers or vascular sonographers, will also be in high demand for the same reason, and there is much crossover between the two disciplines.
Cardiovascular technicians require at least an AA degree in a subject such as allied health, healthcare, or medical assisting, in addition to professional credentials and on the job training. Four year programs are becoming more common, which include core courses first and then instruction in the student’s chosen specialty. EKG technicians, often nurses who were trained on the job, can enroll in 2-year programs to become technologists, and there are also 1-year certification programs for EKGs, Holter monitoring, and stress testing.