How to Become a Cardiovascular Technician
Cardiovascular technicians play an important role in health care, assisting physicians with heart-related tests, procedures and assessments. With job demand expected to be strong in upcoming years, the cardiovascular tech field may be one worth considering. Specialties in areas such as invasive cardiology, noninvasive technology or vascular technology may also be available, allowing techs to develop skills in niche fields, specializing in tasks ranging from Doppler ultrasound to cardiac catheterization. If you are interested in this field, read on for more details about how to become a cardiovascular technician.
Requirements and prerequisites for cardiovascular technicians
An associate's degree in cardiovascular technology is usually sufficient for students to obtain entry-level skills, but there are also bachelor's degree programs available, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The admissions process may vary from school to school, but many programs require at least:
- A high school diploma (GPA requirements may vary)
- A drug screening and/or background check
- A physical exam
- Prerequisite classes in math, English or other subjects
Students may want to look for cardiovascular tech programs that are accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or another accrediting agency. Accreditation can help ensure that students are being provided with a quality instruction, but also be necessary to seeking certification. The CAAHEP accredits nearly 2,000 allied health programs, including more than 55 in cardiovascular technology nationwide. Students who already have training in a different allied health field may also be able to find a one-year advanced certificate available to help them obtain cardiovascular tech training.
Skills and qualifications needed for cardiovascular technicians
You may be interested in how to become a cardiovascular technician, but understanding the skills and qualifications needed for the job can also be advantageous. O*NET Online reports the following skills to be important in this field:
- Active listening
- Critical thinking
- Social perceptiveness
- Operation monitoring
- Judgment and decision making
- Service orientation
Technicians also need to be dependable, good at communicating and have strong evaluative skills. They should also be able to tolerate stress, have sensitivity toward others, and be adaptive and flexible on the job.
Once students have completed a postsecondary education program, they may want to consider additional certifications. According to the BLS, certification is preferred by some employers and it may even be necessary in some states where cardiovascular technician licensing is required. The BLS also points out that some insurance plans, including Medicare, will only cover services if they are performed by a certified technician. Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) offers eight certification exams, any of which could be appropriate depending on a student's training, specializations and subsequent education. Similarly, certification can also be sought through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).
Cardiovascular technician working environment
Cardiovascular technicians can find jobs in acute care hospitals, outpatient services or even private offices or clinics. They often work full-time, but could be required to work during evenings and weekends or be on call. The job may also require them to be on their feet often, assisting physicians and other health care professionals with procedures or providing them with details about diagnostic tests afterward.
Job demand for cardiovascular technicians and technologists is expected to grow rapidly. In fact, the BLS shows that from 2012 to 2022 the need for these professionals could increase by 30 percent nationwide, which is much faster growth than average. Driving this occupational demand is an aging Baby Boomer population seeking expanding health care services, as well as the Affordable Care Act, which requires individuals to obtain health insurance. There is also some preference being given to non-invasive techniques, which are usually more affordable than invasive procedures and that can often now be done in some outpatient settings, according to the BLS.
CAAHEP Accredited Program Search, Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, Accessed Jan. 19, 2015, http://www.caahep.org/Find-An-Accredited-Program/
Cardiovascular Technology Associate in Science, Valencia College, Accessed Jan. 19, 2015, http://valenciacollege.edu/asdegrees/health/ct.cfm
Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, O*NET Online, Accessed Jan. 19, 2015, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2031.00#Skills
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/diagnostic-medical-sonographers.htm#tab-6
Examinations Offered, Cardiovascular Credentialing International, Accessed Jan. 19, 2015, http://cci-online.org/content/examinations-offered
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology, El Centro College, Accessed Jan. 19, 2015, http://www.elcentrocollege.edu/programs/invasive-cardiovascular-technology