How to become

How To Become A Cardiovascular Technologist

How To Become A Cardiovascular Technologist


If you’re interested in medicine and looking for a job in a growing field, you might want to look at how to become a cardiovascular technologist. You’ll work closely with patients and doctors to gather life-saving information and be a vital part of an emergency team when someone is having a heart attack or other health crisis.

A two-year degree puts you on the path to a stable career in the medical field, an industry that is growing along with the U.S.’s aging population. You can make a very good living while helping others live.

From shape-shifting stents to 3D printed hearts, developments in cardiovascular technology have redefined what’s possible. Expert researchers, surgeons, and physicians have contributed to these developments, as have the skilled cardiovascular technologists who support them. The images these professionals capture are vital for diagnosis, treatment, and controlled studies.

Cardiovascular technologists use a range of medical equipment to capture images physicians use to make a diagnosis. They focus primarily on imaging the heart and veins, though techs who specialize in the latter are sometimes called vascular technicians. Cardiovascular technologists must know how to manipulate tools and position patients to capture just the right image and have to keep up with changing technology or procedures. In sum, successful cardiovascular technologists need the right training, certification, and continuing education.

Read on to discover how to become a cardiovascular technologist, including the requisite education, certification, and experience, as well as the salary and career outlook.

What Is a Cardiovascular Technologist?

If you do high-energy exercises like running or biking, you probably know that “cardio” refers to the heart. Cardio workouts increase your heart rate to make your blood pump faster and your vascular system delivers more oxygen to your heart and lungs. A cardiovascular technologist helps evaluate how well this system is working through a variety of tests and procedures.

What does a cardiovascular technologist do?

A cardiovascular technologist, or CVT, uses sophisticated technology and imaging systems to perform procedures that help physicians and cardiologists diagnose cardiac issues for their patients. They typically work in a cardiac catheter laboratory within a hospital or specialized clinic.

The role involves assisting with the fitting of arterial catheters in patients who have blockages or narrowing of the arteries. They may also help when implanting stents, cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators and performing other tests that contribute to diagnoses and tissue repair. Another important part of the role is attending emergency calls for people who are suffering a heart attack.

As a CVT, you may also be responsible for the following duties:

  • Helping patients understand testing procedures to ease any anxiety or concerns
  • Monitoring patients’ blood pressure and heart rate with specialized electrocardiogram equipment during procedures
  • Checking that patients are comfortable and safe during procedures and that their responses remain normal
  • Observing equipment and readings during imaging processes of the cardiovascular system
  • Carrying out electronic tests on patients with ultrasound, phonocardiogram, echocardiogram and stress testing equipment, recording devices and instruments
  • Adhering to the appropriate sterility, aseptic and infection control protocols
  • Explaining test results to patients and their families
  • Keep track of patient records.

Cardiovascular Technologist Specialization

You can specialize in one of three areas of cardiovascular technology:

  • Non-invasive cardiovascular technologists use echocardiography or EKG technology to record your heart’s electrical signals. The abbreviation uses a K instead of a C for elektrokardiografi, a German word from where the technology was first developed. Along with taking images of the heart, you will also administer stress tests.
  • Invasive cardiovascular technologists assist physicians in procedures involving cardiac catheterization. A catheter is inserted into a patient’s vascular system to find blockages in blood vessels leading to the heart. While a doctor performs this procedure, you will use EKG equipment to closely monitor the patient’s blood pressure and heart rate. The doctor relies on you to let them know if there are any abnormalities during the procedure. You may also work alongside surgeons to prep and monitor patients during open-heart surgery.
  • Peripheral cardiovascular technologists/sonographers work with physicians to identify circulation problems. You will use ultrasound equipment to monitor heart chambers, valves, and blood vessels and listen to the patient’s vascular flow to identify abnormalities. This will allow you to record blood flow, pressure, oxygen saturation, and cerebral and abdominal circulation. A doctor uses this info to diagnose and treat the patient.

Work Environment

Cardiovascular technologists generally work in hospitals, nursing homes, or specialized cardiology clinics. The last of these is the most likely option for the majority of people entering this job field. Technologists work under a cardiologist rather than having their own practice, as they have a very specialized profession that requires additional information and support. As they’ll be working in a medical environment, they’ll need to follow all safety precautions in order to keep themselves and patients safe and to prevent the spread of disease. They will also need to understand doctor and patient confidentiality needs and remain professional at all times.

How to Become a Cardiovascular Technologist

Wondering how to become a cardiovascular tech? As far as medical professions go, the path is relatively straightforward. If you would like to work in a medical office and help patients directly but do not want to go to medical school, this profession may be for you. Follow the steps below to learn more.

Step 1: Earn an Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree program in cardiovascular technology combines academic coursework with laboratory training. Students have an opportunity to learn about various cardiac diseases and symptoms, diagnostic procedures and aseptic techniques. Laboratory work takes place at area hospitals or on-campus clinics. Specific courses include:

  • EKG analysis
  • Cardiovascular care
  • Cardiovascular hemodynamics
  • Echocardiography
  • Ultrasound principles
  • Cardiovascular agents

There are no specific prerequisites for an associate’s degree besides a high school diploma, but when earning your certification later in the process, some number of work hours or other prerequisites may be required. An interest, or past experience, in the medical field will be an asset to those wishing to become cardiovascular technicians.

Success Tip:

Choose a specialization. During the second year of the associate’s degree program, you will most likely have the option to decide whether you want to specialize in invasive or non-invasive cardiovascular technology. Invasive cardiology involves inserting catheters inside a patient, while non-invasive cardiology involves ultrasound and EKG equipment. Both are extremely important and have a similar job outlook, but they require you to specialize in a slightly different skill set. There are a number of different job options under the umbrella of ”cardiovascular technologist.” For instance, you may choose to become a vascular technologist, focusing specifically on the vascular system. Or, you might become a cardiac catheterization specialist (invasive cardiology), or an echocardiography technician (non-invasive cardiology). You may focus on the pulmonary and cardiac systems together or on just one.

Step 2: Participate in an Internship

In order to obtain experience in the field, students in a cardiovascular technology program need to complete an internship in a medical setting. This is an opportunity for students to work and learn under an experienced cardiovascular technologist and begin interacting with patients. During an internship, students can apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to a real-world setting. As students gain more experience, they’ll be allowed to have more responsibilities during their internship.

Step 3: Obtain Certification

Many employers prefer to hire certified technologists. Graduates of a cardiovascular technology program can pursue the Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS) or the Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) designation. Applicants for each designation must demonstrate proof of graduation from an accredited cardiovascular technology program, in addition to employment verification. Those who specialize in non-invasive cardiac technology pursue the RCS, while invasive technologists can obtain the RCIS. Each designation requires that individuals pass an examination. Certification in multiple specialties can increase opportunities for advancement.

CertificationCostCareersOffered By
RCS$365 USDThis certification is specific to those working in echocardiography. There are six certification levels with various prerequisites.Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI)
RCIS$365 USDThe RCIS certification is for those working in cardiac catheterization. There are four certification levels with increasing prerequisites.Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI)

How to Pass the RCIS Exam and the RCS Exam

Both of these exams are administered by the CCI. There are online study guides and practice exams that you can take if you want to check your preparedness. You should make sure that you fulfill all of the qualifications necessary before taking either exam and that you are confident in your choice of specialization. If possible, speak to other cardiovascular technicians who have taken the exams in the past in order to get a sense of what the experience will be like for you.

Continuing Education

There are, as stated above, six levels of RCS certification and four levels of RCIS certification. Continuing to obtain these certifications as appropriate is a great way for cardiovascular technologists to pursue continuing education and to keep updated with new advances in the field. Some employers may require cardiovascular technologists in their employ to pursue these certifications regularly.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians should expect to see a 12% increase in jobs available in their field between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the national average. Cardiovascular technologists can expect to earn a median salary of $57,720 as of May, 2019.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming A Cardiovascular Technologist

If the idea of becoming a CVT is appealing, read these frequently asked questions to learn more about this career:

  1. What qualities and skills does a cardiovascular technologist need?

A cardiovascular technologist will need the following hard and soft skills to succeed in their role:

  • Communication: Strong communication skills are essential. You must relay vital information to the physician and be able to communicate with patients and their families, possibly in stressful situations. Active listening is important when interacting with patients and giving them your full attention.
  • Manual dexterity: You need steady hands to operate small tools and equipment. You could be working under pressure and must be able to maintain your composure in such situations.
  • Teamwork: You are working as part of a team of medical professionals. Your teamwork skills must be strong so that you can assist the physician and others effectively.
  1. Is continuing education required as part of the role?

Once you have graduated from your accredited course, you are not required to complete continuing education. However, if you are certified, you will need to renew this certification every four years. To be successful in your role, you should aim to keep up with advances in the field, which will assist in your certification renewal.

  1. What is the work environment like for a cardiovascular technologist?

The majority of CVTs work in hospitals. This could be in a specialized department, or it could be in emergency and critical care. You are likely to have a full-time position. Some cardiovascular technologists work standard office hours, while others need to cover a shift pattern around the clock and be available for emergencies.

CVTs work in clean, well-lit environments. Most of your time will be spent standing up during procedures or sitting at a desk while completing documentation. You should be physically fit and able to cope with the demands of the role.

FAQs, about cardiovascular technologist

Is cardiovascular Tech a good career?

An incredibly satisfying, well-paying, and in-demand career path is cardiovascular technology.

What does a cardiovascular technician do?

Perform diagnostic tests on a patient’s cardiovascular or pulmonary systems.

What skills do you need to be a cardiovascular technician?

Communication, empathy, and detail-orientedness.

Is an EKG Tech a cardiovascular Tech?

Electrocardiograms are a specialty of cardiovascular technologists (ECGs or EKGs).

How long does it take to become a cardiovascular technologist?

A cardiovascular technician can take one to four years.

Cardiovascular technologist salary

$91,293 a year.

What is a cardiovascular technologist?

Performs extremely sophisticated operations while working in a cardiac catheterization lab.

How to become a cardiovascular technologist in california?

Get a degree in cardiovascular technology at the associate level, next think about certifications, and last, create your CV and cover letter.

Is a cardiovascular technologist a doctor?

Cardiovascular technologists only perform diagnostic procedures.

Cardiovascular technologist jobs

Cardiology Technologist, Cardiovascular InvasiveTechnologist,Technologist in vascular ultrasound and echo, Interventional Radiology Technologist,Cardiovascular Invasive Surgery.

Cardiovascular technologist bachelor’s degree?

Bachelor’s degree. B B.S. 

Cardiovascular technologist salary per month?

The average salary is $7,607/month.