Detailed Guide forCardiovascular Technologists and Technicians in California
May also be called: EKG Technicians; Electrocardiograph Technicians
Specialties within this occupation include: Cardiac Technicians; Cardiographers; Cardiology Technologists; Cardiopulmonary Technologists; Echocardiographers; Perfusionists; Cardiac Sonographers; Vascular Technologists
What Would I Do?
Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians assist physicians in diagnosing and treating cardiac (heart) and vascular (blood) ailments. Technicians perform electrocardiograms, treadmill stress tests, or Holter monitoring. Technologists may specialize in one of the following areas: vascular technology, invasive cardiology, and echocardiography.
Electrocardiograph Technicians assess the heart by looking at its electrical activity. This entry-level position of Electrocardiograph (EKG) Technician operates and maintains EKG machines. The EKG machines detect and record electronic impulses transmitted by the heart during and between heartbeats. With additional training, these Technicians can conduct stress testing and Holter monitoring.
The EKG Technicians usually perform the test with the patient lying upon an examination table. The Technician attaches electrodes to the patient’s chest, arms, and legs. The Technician then starts the machine that records wave tracings on a roll of paper. After the test is completed, the Technician may mark sections of the report that the physician should review.
For treadmill stress tests, EKG Technicians document the patient’s medical history, explain the procedure, connect the patient to an EKG monitor, and obtain a baseline reading and resting blood pressure. Next, they monitor the heart’s performance while the patient is walking on a treadmill, gradually increasing the treadmill’s speed to observe the effect of increased exertion.
For Holter monitoring, the EKG Technicians place electrodes on the patient’s chest and attach a portable EKG monitor to the patient’s belt. Following 24 or more hours of normal activity by the patient, the Technician removes a tape from the monitor and places it in a scanner. After checking the quality of the recorded impulses on an electronic screen, the Technician usually prints the information from the tape for analysis by a physician.
Vascular Technologists assist physicians with the diagnosis of disorders of the arteries and veins of the body. They assess blood flow by imaging vessels with ultrasound and by obtaining flow signals with Doppler ultrasound. They also use a variety of other instruments to measure blood pressure, limb blood volume changes, and oxygen saturation. The most common vascular tests scan the carotid arteries in the neck for arterial plaque and the veins in the legs for blood clots or arterial plaque.
Invasive Cardiology Technologists assist physicians with cardiac catheterization procedures in which a catheter, or small tube, is wound through a patient’s blood vessel into the heart. This procedure can determine if a blockage exists in the blood vessels that supply the heart muscle. Part of the procedure may involve balloon angioplasty and stenting, which can be used to treat blockages of blood vessels or heart valves without the need for heart surgery.
The Cardiac Sonographers are technologists who perform noninvasive tests using ultrasound equipment. This procedure sends sound waves into the patient’s body and processes echoes of the sound waves to form an image of the heart. While performing the scans, they check the images on the screen, decide which images to record in their report to the physician, and judge whether the images are satisfactory for diagnostic purposes. They also explain the procedure to the patient, record any additional medical history if necessary, select appropriate equipment settings, and change the patient’s position as needed. This specialty requires extensive knowledge of cardiac disease and diagnosis.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Check, test, and maintain cardiology equipment, making minor repairs when necessary, to ensure proper operation.||Problem Sensitivity|
|Perform general administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments or ordering supplies and equipment.||Critical Thinking|
|Explain testing procedures to patient to obtain cooperation and reduce anxiety.||Speaking|
|Prepare and position patients for testing.||Social Perceptiveness|
|Attach electrodes to the patients' chests, arms, and legs, connect electrodes to leads from the electrocardiogram (EKG) machine, and operate the EKG machine to obtain a reading.||Information Ordering|
|Monitor patients' blood pressure and heart rate using electrocardiogram (EKG) equipment during diagnostic and therapeutic procedures to notify the physician if something appears wrong.||Operation Monitoring|
|Monitor patients' comfort and safety during tests, alerting physicians to abnormalities or changes in patient responses.||Monitoring|
|Observe gauges, recorder, and video screens of data analysis system during imaging of cardiovascular system.||Near Vision|
|Obtain and record patient identification, medical history or test results.||Writing|
|Supervise and train other cardiology technologists and students.||Instructing|
|Adjust equipment and controls according to physicians' orders or established protocol.||Reading Comprehension|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Problem Sensitivity||The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.|
|Critical Thinking||Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.|
|Speaking||Talking to others to convey information effectively.|
|Social Perceptiveness||Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.|
|Information Ordering||The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).|
|Operation Monitoring||Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.|
|Monitoring||Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.|
|Near Vision||The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).|
|Writing||Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.|
|Instructing||Teaching others how to do something.|
|Reading Comprehension||Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.|
Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians spend a lot of time walking and standing. Heavy lifting may be involved to move equipment or lift patients. Those who work in catheterization laboratories may face stressful working conditions because they are in close contact with patients with serious heart ailments. For example, some patients may encounter complications that have life-or-death implications.
Some Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians have the potential for radiation exposure, which is minimized by strict adherence to radiation safety guidelines. These workers wear heavy protective aprons while conducting some procedures. Those who use sonography can be at an increased risk for musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back strain, and eye strain. However, greater use of ergonomic equipment and an increased awareness will minimize such risks. In addition, Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians must practice proper safety procedures to limit risk from exposure to blood, and other body fluids.
Technologists and Technicians generally work a 5-day, 40-hour week that may include evenings and weekends. Those in catheterization laboratories tend to work longer hours and may work evenings. They also may be on call during the night and on weekends.
To date, there has been little or no unionization for Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians.
Will This Job Fit Me?
The job of Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians may appeal to those who enjoy activities that involve working with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking and searching for facts and solving problems. Results-oriented individuals who are independent workers and like to make their own decisions should enjoy this type of job.
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 speak clearly in order to communicate technically with physicians and also explain procedures simply to patients.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The median wage in 2015 for Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians in California was $64,073 annually, or $30.80 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Benefits generally include medical, dental, life, and vision insurance, as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans.
What is the Job Outlook?
This occupation is expected to grow due to the increasing older population. Demand will also be spurred by improvements in technology requiring trained individuals to operate high tech, complicated equipment. Specialty areas, such as echocardiography and electrophysiology, are particularly expected to grow. Those who have multiple skills will have better job prospects. For instance, individuals trained in Holter monitoring and stress testing are expected to have more favorable job prospects than those who only perform basic EKGs. In some cases, fewer EKG Technicians will be needed as hospitals train nursing aides and others to perform basic EKG procedures.
Procedures such as ultrasound are being performed more often as a replacement for more expensive and more invasive procedures. Due to advances in medicine and greater public awareness, signs of vascular disease can be detected earlier, creating demand for Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians.
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians are expected to increase by 26.5 percent, or 900 jobs between 2012 and 2022.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 90 new job openings per year is expected for Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, plus an additional 50 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 140 job openings.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
High school graduates can enter EKG Technician training programs. Unlike other Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, most EKG Technicians are trained on the job by an EKG supervisor or a cardiologist. Hospitals and clinics offer three-month to two-year training programs for basic EKG, Holter monitoring, and stress testing. However, completion of a one-year certificate-training program is preferred by some employers.
Although a few Cardiovascular Technologists, Vascular Technologists, and Cardiac Sonographers are currently trained on the job, most receive training in two- to four-year programs. The majority of Technologists complete a two-year community college program, but four-year programs are increasingly available. The first year of training is dedicated to core courses and is followed by a year of specialized instruction in either invasive or noninvasive cardiovascular or vascular technology. Those who are qualified in an allied health profession need to complete only the year of specialized instruction.
Most hospitals and clinics prefer to train people already in the health care field, such as nursing aides, to become EKG Technicians.
Early Career Planning
Those interested in becoming a Cardiovascular Technologist or Technician should take classes in biology, chemistry, physics, algebra, English, speech, health, and computer technology. Some Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) offer introductory courses in health careers and medical terminology. Other ROPs offer EKG training. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.
To maintain certification for various Cardiographic Technologist and Technician positions, 16-45 continuing education units are required every three years.
While licensing is not required in California, most employers prefer to hire certified Technicians and Technologists.
Voluntary certification is available from these professional organizations: the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI), the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS), and the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion (ABCP). To become certified, applicants must pass an exam and meet training and experience prerequisites. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
- Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: EKG, Cardiopulmonary, Cardiovascular, and Pulmonary.
- Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
The largest industries employing Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals ||72.2%|
|Offices of Physicians ||17.7%|
|Outpatient Care Centers ||3.8%|
Finding a Job
Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Applicants can also find employment opportunities through placement offices at colleges and universities. Newspaper classified ads, professional associations, and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians.
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
Technologists and Technicians can advance to higher levels of the profession as many institutions structure the occupation with multiple levels, each having an increasing amount of responsibility. For example, EKG Technicians may obtain additional training to become Cardiovascular Technologists. Technologists and Technicians also can advance into supervisory or management positions. Other possibilities include working in an educational setting, conducting laboratory work, or working for a manufacturer in marketing, sales, or product development.
Those who pursue additional training may become a Perfusionist. Perfusionists run the machines that artificially pump blood while patients undergo surgery. For example, in open heart surgery blood is rerouted to a heart-lung machine which oxygenates the blood and pumps it back into the patient. Training programs for perfusion usually require a bachelor's degree in any field, preferably in biology or science.
Below is a list of occupations related to Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians with links to more information.
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|Radiologic Technologists and Technicians*||Guide|
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.