There are several ways to become a cardiovascular technologist or technician or vascular technologist. Although some technologists and technicians are trained on the job, the most common path is formal education that leads to an associate’s degree. Many employers also require professional certification.
High school students who are interested in cardiovascular and vascular technology should take courses in anatomy, physiology, and mathematics.
Most cardiovascular technologists and technicians and vascular technologists get an associate's degree by completing a 2-year community college program. However, some 4-year programs that lead to bachelor’s degree are available at colleges and universities.
Programs include coursework in either invasive or noninvasive cardiovascular or vascular technology. Most programs also include a clinical component in which students earn credit while working under a more experienced technologist in a hospital, physician’s office, or imaging laboratory.
One-year certificate programs are also available from community colleges. Certificate programs are often helpful to those who have already received education or training in related healthcare jobs.
Some technologists graduate with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in radiologic technology or nursing and then are trained on the job. Employers prefer candidates who have a degree or certificate from an accredited institute or hospital program.
Cardiovascular technicians who work as electrocardiogram (EKG) technicians are typically trained on the job by their employer. These programs usually take 4 to 6 weeks to complete. One-year certification programs are also available from community colleges and may substitute for on-the-job training.
Although certification is not required to enter the occupation, employers prefer to hire certified technologists or technicians. Certification is considered the standard by professionals and the ultrasound community. Many insurance providers, including Medicare, pay for procedures only if a certified technologist or technician did the work.
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians and vascular technologists earn various certifications, depending on their clinical focus. To take the certification exam, technologists and technicians usually must complete an accredited education program. In most cases, technologists and technicians must take continuing education to keep their certification. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians and vascular technologists can be certified in several areas.
Detail oriented. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians and vascular technologists must follow exact instructions from physicians.
Interpersonal skills. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians and vascular technologists must work closely with patients. Sometimes patients are in extreme pain or under mental stress, and the technologist or technician must get patients to cooperate to do the procedures.
Physical stamina. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians and vascular technologists work on their feet for long periods and must be able to lift and move patients who need help.
Technical skills. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians and vascular technologists must understand how to operate complex machinery to provide useful diagnostic information to physicians and other healthcare workers.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition