Cardiovascular Technologist Salary
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Why a Cardiovascular Technologist?
Working in the healthcare industry can be hugely rewarding, but it is not always easy to choose which specialty to pursue. While physicians are certainly highly respected and well compensated, it takes many years to become properly trained and credentialed as a doctor. People who are not willing or able to make that type of commitment may want to consider studying to become a cardiovascular technologist. Not only is the outlook for this career quite good, with thousands of jobs expected to be added in the next decade, but most incoming technologists have only a two year degree. Further, the median cardiovascular technician salary is much higher than the median salary for all careers, and certainly higher even than the average career requiring an associate’s degree. As the population of older adults in the U.S. continues to grow, those that choose to train for this career now are likely to continue to reap the benefits for many years to come.
Over the next decade, demand for cardiovascular technologists is expected to grow substantially. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand will increase 30% through 2022, which will mean 15,700 more jobs over that time period (BLS, 2012). For reference, the expected growth for all occupations over that same time period is just 11%.
As with many healthcare professions, the aging population, specifically the baby boom generation, is expected to drive demand for cardiovascular technologists simply by virtue of their increasing age. Further, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women over 60 (American Heart Association). To stem this tide, more cardiovascular treatments, including those that require cardiovascular technologist expertise, which will also contribute to the growing demand for the profession. In addition, as more people have the ability to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, more healthcare professionals will need to be available to serve those people.
The majority of cardiovascular technologists are and will continue to be employed in the hospital setting. However, as physicians continue to take advantage of outpatient procedures more and more, these professionals can also expect to find increased demand in private physicians offices as well as medical laboratories and other outpatient facilities.
Compared to the median salary across all occupations, a cardiovascular technologist salary is quite good on average. The median annual salary for this profession in the U.S. is $52,070, according to the BLS. The top 10% of cardiovascular technologists earned more than $80,790 per year, while the bottom 10% earned less than $27,830. Clearly, the range for a cardiac tech salary is wide, as it is in many healthcare professions, and depends largely on local demand. Of course, it is important to note that these salaries are averaged across all employed cardiovascular technologists and do not offer any type of guarantee for new employees or recently graduated students.
That being said, there are certainly states where a cardiovascular technologist salary, on average, is higher than in other regions. Again using data from the BLS, it is interesting to note that of the top 10 regions for a cardiovascular technology salary, 5 of those are in California. In the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura region of Southern California, the median annual wage for cardiovascular technologists is $77,510, which is the highest in the country. On the other end of the spectrum, states in the southeast, particularly Mississippi, Louisiana, and even Florida have some of the lowest medians for a cardiology tech salary with annual wages coming in as low as $36,000.
There is no nationally recognized licensing procedure for cardiovascular technologists, but many choose to pursue credentialing from either Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) or the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). Cardiovascular technologists that pursue official credentialing are likely to be able to find higher paying employment in any region.
CCI offers a variety of credentials in differing cardiovascular technology specialties, including:
While specializing in one of these areas may mean there are fewer job openings, generally those technologists that have more specialized training and certification are able to demand higher salaries, so it may be worth exploring this type of specialized credential. For example, an invasive cardiovascular technology salary will generally be higher than a cardiovascular tech salary would be, whether or not the tech is certified. Specialization may be particularly attractive to those professionals who have worked as general cardiovascular technologists for some time and wish to further their careers.
Job Requirements Education & Experience
The most common path for entry to the cardiovascular technologist career is through a specific education in the field, which tends to culminate in an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. Although some cardiovascular technologists are trained under a certificate program, typically offered by hospitals, these are mostly appropriate for those who are already working in a related field in healthcare.
Although there may not be any specific experience requirements for an entry level job in the field, most cardiovascular technologist training programs include a practicum component. This part of the degree program allows students to work in clinics or hospitals under the supervision of experienced cardiovascular technologists and physicians.
Because cardiovascular technologists work closely with both patients and physicians, as well as the machines they use in the course of a day, there are a variety of skills important to doing a satisfactory job. Cardiovascular technologists, for instance, should be able to listen carefully and engage with patients in a thoughtful way. They should also be good at problem solving and critical thinking so that they can help to interpret and explain any results they may find. Cardiovascular technologists should also be comfortable with technology including computers and software, since these are integral to the career’s daily activities.
Cardiovascular technologists may find employment under many different job titles. According to O*NET OnLine, these may include:
Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory Technologist
Cardiac Catheterization Technician
Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT)
Electrocardiogram Technician (EKG Technician)
Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS)
Hospitals are by far the top employers for cardiovascular techs with more than 75% of employed cardiovascular technologists working in general medical and surgical hospitals as of 2013 (BLS, 2013). However, many cardiovascular technologists are also finding work in private physicians’ offices. As of 2013, that percentage was nearly 15% and is expected to grow over the next ten years. The remaining employed cardiovascular techs work in medical and diagnostic laboratories (2%), outpatients care centers (2%), and specialty hospitals (1%).
Cardiovascular technologists, as with many hospital employees, spend the majority of their time on their feet, interacting with patients and interpreting results. Although there may be irregular hours, including nights and weekends, cardiovascular technologists do not tend to work in emergency settings, making it a lower stress position that some hospital jobs. However, some cardiovascular techs may still have to be “on call” during certain times. Those technologists working in physicians offices are less likely to work odd hours and more likely to have a set, 40 hour work week during normal business hours.