Innovators Guide

Cardiovascular Technologist Training

Cardiovascular technologists typically need an associate degree for entry-level employment. Most employers also require a professional credential. Technicians also receive on-the-job training.

Education and training. The majority of cardiovascular technologists, vascular technologists, and cardiac sonographers complete a 2-year junior or community college program resulting in an associate degree. However, 4-year programs are increasingly available. The first year is dedicated to core courses and is followed by a year of specialized instruction in either invasive cardiovascular, noninvasive cardiovascular, or noninvasive vascular technology. Those who are qualified in an allied health profession need to complete only the year of specialized instruction.

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals (CAAHEP) accredits cardiovascular technology education programs. In January 2009, there were 34 accredited programs. Similarly, those who want to study echocardiography or vascular sonography may also attend CAAHEP-accredited programs in diagnostic medical sonography. In 2009, there were 168 such accredited programs. Those who attend these accredited programs are eligible to obtain professional certification.

Unlike most other cardiovascular technologists and technicians, most EKG technicians are trained on the job by an EKG supervisor or a cardiologist. On-the-job training for EKG technicians usually takes about 4 to 6 weeks. Most employers prefer to train people already in the healthcare field—nursing aides, for example. Some EKG technicians are students enrolled in 2-year programs to become technologists, working part time to gain experience and make contact with employers. For technicians who perform Holter monitoring on-the-job training may last around 18 to 24 months. One-year certification programs also exist for basic EKGs, Holter monitoring, and stress testing and can be an alternative to on-the-job training.

Licensure and certification. Credentialing is voluntary. However, it is the professional standard and most employers require credentialing. Credentialing for cardiovascular technologists is available from Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) and the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). Most credentials require that technologists complete an accredited education program to qualify to sit for credentialing examination. Continuing education is required in most cases to maintain certification. For specific requirements, contact the credentialing body.

Other qualifications. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians must be reliable, have mechanical aptitude, and be able to follow detailed instructions. A pleasant, relaxed manner for putting patients at ease is an asset. They must be articulate as they must communicate technically with physicians and also explain procedures simply to patients.

Advancement. Technicians may advance to the technologist level of practice with supplemental formal education and credentialing.

Technologists can advance to higher levels of the profession as many institutions structure the occupation with multiple levels, each having an increasing amount of responsibility. Advancement may occur through multiple credentialing in more than one cardiovascular specialty or through work experience. Technologists may also advance into supervisory or management positions. Other possibilities include working in an educational setting or conducting laboratory work. 

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition

Find related resources below:

Cardiovascular Technologist Employment
Cardiovascular Technologist Training
Cardiovascular Technologist Job Outlook
Cardiovascular Technologist Income


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