Cardiovascular technicians are health support professionals who are trained to assist physicians in diagnosing problems of the heart and blood vessels. To help the office run smoothly, techs may set up and calibrate equipment, take patients' vital signs, and schedule appointments. From the clinical side, cardiovascular technicians and technologists may assist doctors with invasive heart tests, such as inserting a cardiac catheter; they may also create sonogram images of a patient's heart and surrounding vessels. Some administer stress tests and EKG tests. Others monitor vascular blood flow and metrics surrounding a patient's circulation.
Like many healthcare support professions, a two-year associate program is the most common way to enter this career. During these degrees, students take a year of basic medical course work followed by a clinical specialization in a certain cardiovascular technology area. Four-year programs are also available for those who want to learn more than one type of procedure. Certificate programs are geared toward current healthcare workers who would like to learn cardiovascular techniques. Professional certification is required by most employers in this industry and is offered by industry trade groups.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for cardiovascular technicians is predicted to grow much faster than average, in the 2008-2018 period. The prevalence of heart disease, along with the aging Baby Boom population, will increase the need for cardiovascular diagnosis and treatment. Technicians who are proficient and certified in multiple procedures will have better job opportunities, as will those who are willing to relocate to areas with growing populations. The middle 50 percent of cardiovascular technicians earn $33,000-62,000 a year.
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