As more and more baby boomers enter their senior years, the demand for specialists trained in cardiovascular technology continues to rise. Together with physicians, cardiovascular technologists help to diagnose and treat conditions associated with heart disease and vascular disorders. Learn more about the role of cardiovascular technologist and the future job outlook for specialists in this field.
Also known as cardiac sonographers and echocardiologists, cardiovascular technologists work with the technological equipment used in the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions. Some of the equipment these specialists work with includes
- Computerized imaging technology
- Sound waves
- Electrocardiograph or EKG
This equipment is used to monitor patient heart rates, track blood flow rates and take images of the heart. Cardiovascular technologists may also assist physicians during open-heart surgery with pacemaker, stent and catheter procedures. These procedures involve opening artery blockages and/or clearing other major blood vessels.
When treating patients, cardiovascular technologies may perform invasive procedures, such as catheter insertions; or noninvasive procedures, such as taking images of the heart using ultrasound equipment.
Compared to other occupations within the medical technology field, cardiovascular technologies earn some of the highest salaries of all. The journal, U.S. News and World Report ranks this occupation as one of the “100 Best Jobs in 2013.” Average annual salaries for cardiovascular technologists range from $27,342 to $65,419 depending on years of experience. This computes to an hourly wage range of $13.22 to $30 and an overtime hourly rate of $17.15 to $46.12.
While someone just entering the field can expect to earn at the bottom end of the scale, someone with five to nine years experience can earn as much as $45,781. In terms of salary range from state to state, Alaska pays the highest wage of all at $82,000 per year with Montana, Washington, New Jersey and Oregon (among others) paying up to $62,000 per year.
Data collected by the American Heart Association show heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. Not surprisingly, the demand for cardiovascular technologists is expected to grow by as much as 29 percent between the years 2010 and 2020.
As of 2010, cardiovascular technologists held an estimated 49,400 jobs within various work settings, some of which include
- Physician’s offices
- State/local/private hospitals
- Outpatient care centers
- Medical and diagnostic laboratories
With ongoing advancements in imaging technology, an increasing number of medical facilities will replace the more invasive procedures with the less invasive imaging procedures, which are also less costly. As a result, the demand for cardiovascular technologists will increase accordingly.
How to Become a Cardiovascular Technologist
There are many paths to becoming a cardiovascular technologist. Interested candidates can choose fromAssociate degree programs
- Bachelor degree programs
- One-year certification programs
Two-year associate degree programs are offered at community colleges, while four-year bachelor degree programs can be taken at colleges and universities. Some employers also offer on-the-job training, though this path can be limiting in terms of future career prospects.
At the very least, interested candidates should obtain a certification in cardiovascular technology. Certifications are considered the standard within the profession, which accounts for why most employers prefer to hire certified technologists.
Certifications are available in different areas, some of which include
- Vascular technology
Overall, a cardiovascular technologist position offers a promising career path for the trained professional.