Cardiovascular Technologist

Job Description

Doppler test of a carotid. The doctor studies the carotid artery. France
A cardiovascular technologist performing a carotid ultrasound. BSIP/UIG / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

A cardiovascular technologist (CVT) helps doctors diagnose and treat patients who have or are suspected of having cardiac and vascular disease. He or she may use non-invasive procedures, including ultrasound, or invasive procedures, which involve inserting probes, such as catheters, into patients' bodies.

Several sub-specialties fall under this occupational title. A cardiology technologist monitors and treats problems with the heart. A vascular technologist monitors and treats blood flow abnormalities. An echocardiographer, also called a cardiac sonographer, uses ultrasound equipment to take images of the heart and valves.

Quick Facts

  • Cardiovascular technologists' median annual salary is $55,270 (2017).
  • About 55,000 people work in this occupation (2016).
  • The majority work in hospitals. Other employers are medical laboratories, outpatient facilities, and doctor's offices.
  • Heart and vascular illnesses don't adhere to a 9 to 5 schedule and because of this many who work this field can't either. Cardiovascular technologists often work odd hours in order to respond to health emergencies.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies this as a "Bright Outlook Occupation," because of its excellent job outlook. This government agency predicts employment will grow faster than the average for all occupations between 2016 and 2026.

A Day in the Life of a Cardiovascular Technologist

Job announcements on listed the following job duties:

  • "Under direct supervision of the physician, prepares patients, assembles and operates hemodynamic and electrophysiologic equipment during interventional and diagnostic procedures"
  • "Assists physician in performing invasive procedures. Performs related radiographic/fluoroscopic imaging techniques to demonstrate catheter location, position and document findings"
  • "Maintains a well stocked and clean work environment"
  • "Works collaboratively with the Cath Lab team to promote wellness and optimize patient outcomes and quality care"
  • "Scan and interpret holter/event monitors and send to physician for confirmation"
  • "Explain procedure in easy-to-understand terms based on professional knowledge to relieve patient of pre-testing anxiety"

How To Become a Cardiovascular Technologist

Most people prepare for this occupation by earning an associate degree at a community college. These two-year programs typically consist of coursework and clinical training under the supervision of an experienced technologist. Some choose, instead, to earn a bachelor's degree which will take four years. Another route is to get an associate or bachelor's degree in radiologic technology or nursing followed by on-the-job training. Look for an accredited program since that is often a requirement for certification or registration. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs accredits cardiovascular technologist programs.

Although states don't currently license cardiovascular technologists, it is difficult to find an employer who doesn't require certification or registration. Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) is one organization that oversees certification and registration of CVTs. Many employers require their CVTs to have ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and BLS (Basic Life Support) certification.

Do You Have the Soft Skills to Succeed in This Field?

In addition to your classroom and on-the-job training, in order to succeed in this field, you need particular characteristics. It is essential that you evaluate whether you have these qualities when deciding whether to become a CVT. Are you detail oriented? This quality will allow you to follow physicians' instructions. Do you have excellent interpersonal skills? They are needed to establish rapport with your patients. Are you physically fit? You will be required to move and lift patients, as well as stand on your feet for long periods of time.

What Employers Will Expect

In job announcements on employers specified candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • "Ability to work efficiently and cope with emergency situations"
  • "Highly effective verbal communication and interpersonal skills to establish working relationships that foster optimal team performance and quality patient care"
  • "Proficient keyboarding, familiarity with hospital electronic medical records and information systems"
  • "Ability to multi-task and self-led problem solving skills"
  • "Must be able to interact with physicians during emergencies and assist them with interpretation of data collected"
  • "Must be able to respond to the hospital within 30 minutes of receiving a page"

Is This Career a Good Fit for You?

self assessment will help you discover if this career is a good fit. It must match your interestspersonality type, and work-related values. Cardiovascular technologists should have these traits:

Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

Description Annual Salary (2017) Educational Requirements
Nuclear Medicine Technologist Performs nuclear imaging tests like PET and SPECT scans $75,660 Associate or Bachelor's Degree in Nuclear Medicine Technology
Ultrasound Technician Operates equipment that uses use high-frequency sound waves to diagnose illnesses $71,410 Associate or Bachelor's Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Radiologic Technologist

Uses diagnostic imaging equipment, like x-ray and CT-scans to help doctors diagnose illnesses and injuries $58,440 Certificate or Associate, or Bachelor's Degree in Radiography
Surgical Technologist Assists members of an operating room team that includes surgeons, RNs, and anesthesiologists $46,310 Associate Degree, Diploma, or Certificate in Surgical Technology

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,  Occupational Outlook Handbook; Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,  O*NET Online (visited April 17, 2018).