What Is a Certified Cardiovascular Technician and What Do They Do?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 17, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Certified cardiovascular technicians are important health professionals who assist surgeons and physicians with important operations and help patients identify any heart and vascular-related challenges. If you're hoping to become a certified cardiovascular technician, it's important to understand what they do and the education required to start the career. In this article, we discuss what a certified cardiovascular technician is, their primary responsibilities and the qualifications necessary to become one.

What is a certified cardiovascular technician?

A certified cardiovascular technician is a health professional who specializes in diagnosing cardiovascular diseases or challenges. During their career, they use impressive skills and medical imagining methods to find problems or conditions in patients' hearts, vascular systems and arteries. Cardiovascular technicians aren't trained to assist patients medically, but they have the skills and knowledge to analyze and interpret imaging reports and assist cardiovascular doctors and surgeons. To become certified as a cardiovascular technician, individuals often need to fulfill different educational and training requirements before pursuing their certification and license.

What do certified cardiovascular technicians do?

Certified cardiovascular technicians perform several duties during their workday, including:

  • Performing cardiovascular tests using medical imaging methods

  • Talking with patients and answering important questions about the test

  • Recording results of cardiological tests and generating reports for doctors

  • Discussing test results with physicians and cardiovascular surgeons

  • Assisting doctors during non-evasive cardiovascular procedures

  • Maintaining and cleaning cardiovascular equipment

  • Reporting equipment malfunctions and problems to doctors and supervisors

  • Organizing supply inventory levels and restocking when necessary

Cardiovascular technician skills

Here are some skills that cardiovascular technicians use throughout their career:

Interpersonal skills

Cardiovascular technicians require the use of interpersonal skills when working with patients. Patients can sometimes have nerves or concerns before proceeding with the cardiovascular tests, and technicians can use their skills to help ease patients' worries and answer any questions they may have about the examination. A few great ways to develop interpersonal skills are to practice active listening by responding to patients' comments and demonstrating empathy for their concerns or ailments.

Read more: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

Attention to detail

When reading cardiological test results and examining ultrasound images, it's important for cardiovascular technicians to have impressive attention to detail to help them find certain ailments and understand what they need to report to physicians. It's also important for cardiovascular technicians to use attention to detail when cleaning and examining the equipment to help them find any damages or issues that need fixing.

Critical thinking

Cardiovascular technicians use critical thinking skills when analyzing and interpreting patient test results. By examining the ultrasound images and applying their medical knowledge, cardiovascular technicians can discover any major challenges the patients are facing and discuss them with the physician or surgeon. If a technician wanted to practice or improve their critical thinking skills, they could talk with a cardiovascular surgeon or supervisor and ask them for advice on interpreting patient test results.

Read more: 10 Essential Critical Thinking Skills (And How To Improve Them)

Communication

Communication is an important skill for cardiovascular technicians to develop because they use it often throughout their career as they talk with patients, colleagues and physicians. A cardiovascular technician uses communication skills to inform physicians and surgeons about certain patient ailments and translate medical terminology so that patients can understand it. They also use communication to tell supervisors and colleagues about damaged equipment that might need replacing.

Certified cardiovascular technician requirements

Here are some requirements individuals need to fulfill in order to become a certified cardiovascular technician:

Education

Though some cardiovascular technicians can start the career with a high school diploma, it's beneficial for them to first earn a post-secondary degree or certificate as a cardiovascular technologist. Students can pursue different levels of degrees, which can vary in length and teach them a variety of unique skills and knowledge. If an individual wanted to pursue an associate degree, the program often takes two years to complete, whereas a bachelor's degree can take up to four years.

Though an associate degree and certificate can teach aspiring cardiovascular technicians impressive skills for the career, earning a bachelor's degree can help their resumes become more noticeable to employers and help them gain certain certifications. Whichever type of degree students wish to pursue, it's important that the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredits the program because many employers prefer candidates who have earned their credentials from those institutions.

Read more: Certificate vs. Degree: What's the Difference?

Training

During their time earning a degree, students often have the ability to pursue a certain specialization in the cardiovascular field. At many universities and institutions, the first half of their studies focus on the general education and knowledge of the cardiovascular technician position, while the second half focuses on the specialization of their choice. Those specializations can include:

  • Cardiology: The cardiology specialization provides individuals the knowledge and skills to help doctors implant cardiac catheters. Cardiology technicians might also observe heart monitors and perform special stress tests on patients using treadmills.

  • Vascular technology: The vascular technology specialization involves evaluating blood flow abnormalities and special vascular diseases. Vascular sonographers use ultrasound imaging technology to view patients' blood vessels and report any issues to physicians.

  • Echocardiology: Cardiovascular technicians who choose this specialization use ultrasound technology to view patients' hearts. The echocardiology specialization generally offers students the ability to complete clinical internships.

  • Electrocardiology: Those who choose the electrocardiology specialization receive the title of an EKG technician. They help run tests using electrocardiograms (EKGs) and provide patients with Holter monitors.

Related: Learn About Being an EKG Technician

Certifications

Certifications allow cardiovascular technicians to demonstrate their occupational expertise and make their resumes more noticeable to potential employers. Some employers might also prefer candidates who have at least two certifications, which can allow them to assist multiple types of patients. It's also possible that individual states may require technicians to hold a certain certification before receiving their license to practice. There are three main organizations that provide credentials:

  • Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI): The CCI offers certifications such as the Certified Rhythm Analysis Technician (CRAT) and the Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS).

  • American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT): ARRT offers specific credentials that are helpful to those who operate medical imaging technology, such as the Vascular Sonography (VS) and the Radiation Therapy (RT) certifications.

  • American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDM): The ARDM offers different credentials, such as the Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS), with even further specializations, including Adult Echocardiography (AE) and Pediatric Echocardiography (PE).

License

Some states require individuals to obtain a license before they become certified cardiovascular technicians. To earn a license, individuals first have to fulfill any major state requirements, including an accredited degree, hands-on experience and certifications, and pass a licensing exam provided by the state. Then they can submit an application and receive their state license. Some licenses need to be renewed every couple of years through reapplication fees or continuing education.

Cardiovascular technician salary and job outlook

The average salary for cardiovascular technicians is $39,157 per year. However, this amount may vary depending on an individual's level of education and experience as well as their specific location and employer.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the job outlook for cardiovascular technologists and technicians will increase by 5% between 2019 and 2029, creating an additional 3,100 jobs. However, they predict the overall field of diagnostic medical sonographers will increase by 12%, creating 15,600 across the entire industry.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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