How Do I Become a Cardiovascular Technologist?

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 specializing 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, experience, salary, and career outlook.

Steps to Becoming a Cardiovascular Technologist

There are many ways to become a cardiovascular technologist—a field closely related to radiologic technology and diagnostic imaging—but all of them start with formal education. Most states also require licenses and/or professional certification followed by ongoing continuing education courses.

Here is one possible pathway to joining this growing career.

1. Check State Licensing Requirements

Cardiovascular technologists must be licensed or certified to practice in some states. These requirements determine what type of training one needs to enter the field, so it pays to research them before choosing a program. Florida’s Department of Health, for instance, requires licensure—a process that entails passing an examination administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technicians and, in most cases, finishing an accredited two-year cardiovascular technology program. Prospective students can visit the American Society of Radiologic Technologists online to review each state’s licensing information.

2. Earn a Certificate, Diploma, or Degree in Cardiovascular Technology (One to Two Years)

Cardiovascular technologists play an important role in patient care. Formal education is a must, but program lengths and types vary. The most common credentials available:

  • A diploma in cardiovascular technology from a university, hospital, or clinic
  • An undergraduate certificate in cardiovascular technology
  • An associate degree in cardiovascular technology
  • A bachelor’s degree in cardiovascular technology

While there is certainly no definite guarantee; earnings, employment, and advancement potential tend to increase with education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2024), employers prefer to hire techs who completed programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The CAAHEP offers a directory of accredited diploma, certificate, associate, and bachelor’s programs.

Employers also prefer candidates with two or more professional certifications. Step four provides a full breakdown of the available certifications.

Cardiovascular Technology Concentrations

According to the CAAHEP, students attending cardiovascular technology programs often specialize in one of the following concentrations:

  • Adult Echocardiography
  • Pediatric Echocardiography
  • Cardiac Electrophysiology
  • Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
  • Noninvasive Vascular Study

Common Prerequisites for Clinical Coursework

Clinical work is core to a cardiovascular technologist’s education: there is no substitute for hands-on training with real patients.

Health Requirements

Prior to working in a clinical setting, cardiovascular technology students typically must submit medical forms and records to verify the following:

  • A current TB test
  • Hepatitis B, DT, and MMR vaccinations
  • A current flu vaccination
  • Chickenpox vaccination or antibody test
  • Flu vaccination

Security Requirements

Before they can work with patients, most cardiovascular technology students must complete:

  • A full background check
  • Drug screening

Physical Requirements

Cardiovascular technology is a relatively physical field. As such, many cardiovascular technology programs only admit students who can:

  • Lift more than 20 pounds
  • Bend, stoop, kneel, push, and pull
  • Stand for long periods of time
  • See clearly
  • Differentiate colors

3. Become Licensed (Less Than One Year)

Most states only allow licensed or certified cardiovascular technicians to enter the field. Some state licensing boards require candidates to attend accredited one- or two-year cardiovascular technology programs and pass an exam given by the American Association of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), while others require certain professional certifications (see below).

For now, here are a few things aspiring cardiovascular techs should know about state licensure. Candidates must:

  • Meet state eligibility requirements before they can sit for a licensing exam, and criteria might include a diploma, certificate, or degree from an accredited program; a professional certificate; and/or a set number of hours of hands-on patient care
  • Submit a complete application and prepare the requested documentation
  • Pay fees

Also, some states require cardiovascular technologists to become certified. Candidates should review the certifications’ educational and clinical criteria carefully. State licenses and professional certifications must be renewed periodically, which usually entails paying a fee and completing continuing education requirements.

4. Get Certified (Less Than One Year)

Professional certifications verify a cardiovascular technician’s skill. Not surprisingly, most employers prefer to hire professionally certified cardiovascular technologists, and many insurance providers will only pay for procedures performed by them. There are many different types of certifications, ranging from general to highly specialized.

The following table highlights various professional certifications, their designations, and the organization that oversees them:

Certification Designation
Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI)
  • Advanced Cardiac Sonographer
  • Certified Cardiographic Technician
  • Certified Rhythm Analysis Technician
  • Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonographer
  • Registered Cardiac Electrophysiology Specialist
  • Registered Cardiac Sonographer
  • Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist
  • Registered Phlebology Sonographer
  • Registered Vascular Specialist
American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS)
Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
  • Abdomen (AB)
  • Breast (BR)
  • Fetal Echocardiography (FE)
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB/GYN)
  • Pediatric Sonography (PS)
Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer
  • Adult Echocardiography (AE)
  • Fetal Echocardiography (FE)
  • Pediatric Echocardiography (PE)
Registered Vascular Technologist
  • Vascular Technology (VT)
Registered Musculoskeletal Sonographer
  • Musculoskeletal Sonographer (MSKS)
American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)
  • Bone Densitometry
  • Breast Sonography
  • Cardiac Interventional Radiography
  • Computed Tomography
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mammography
  • Nuclear Medicine Technology
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Radiography
  • Registered Radiologist Assistant
  • Sonography
  • Vascular Interventional Radiography
  • Vascular Sonography


5. Complete Continuing Education Requirements (Timeline Varies)

Imaging procedures and equipment evolve. Cardiovascular technicians and technologists must master new machines and practices to remain competitive in their field and ensure patient safety. This is precisely why state licensing boards and certification bodies require professionals to complete continuing education units (CEUs) to renew their credentials.

Each state or organization sets its own continuing education standards.

For example, candidates who wish to renew certifications earned through Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) must complete at least 16 CEUs within each three-year renewal period. Registry-level credentials require 36 CEUs. Most state boards and certificate providers publish renewal criteria online.

Note that a variety of educational experiences may apply to cardiovascular technologists’ continuing education requirements. One might complete college courses, for instance, or attend approved conferences or lectures. Professional organizations may also offer continuing education courses, including many online class options. Students can visit one of the following organizations to learn more:

  • Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals
  • American Society of Echocardiography
  • Society for Vascular Ultrasound

Cardiovascular Tech Programs

Students must have some formal education to start working as cardiovascular technologists. The most common degree for this field is an associate of applied science (AAS) or an associate of science (AS) degree, which normally takes two years to complete. However, many schools also offer bachelor of science degrees.

Some schools may also offer specialization options in any of the following subspecialties:

  • Cardiac Electrophysiology
  • Adult Echocardiography
  • Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
  • Pediatric Echocardiography
  • Noninvasive Vascular Study

Here is a sampling of five accredited cardiovascular technologist schools in the United States.

Florida State College at Jacksonville

Florida State College offers an associate of science degree in cardiovascular technology providing students with an organized curriculum that includes general education courses and core professional courses for the invasive and noninvasive cardiovascular program. Graduates of this program will be eligible to apply to sit for either the Invasive or Echo Credential examination.

Made up of 77 credits, the program includes courses such as cardiovascular anatomy and physiology; cardiovascular pharmacology; ultrasound physics, radiation, and safety; non-invasive cardiology; invasive cardiology; and EKG interpretation, among others.

Graduates will be able to find employment at hospitals, echocardiography labs, cardiac catheterization labs, cardiology offices, outpatient cardiovascular labs, and other industry-related facilities.

  • Location: Jacksonville, FL
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP); Joint Review Committee on Education in Cardiovascular Technology (JRC-CVT); Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Orange Coast College

Orange Coast College offers an associate of science degree in cardiovascular technology and a certificate of completion in electrocardiography technician for prospective cardiovascular technologists.

The certificate program will prepare students for jobs such as electrocardiogram technicians, stress-test technicians, Holter-monitor technicians, pacemaker technicians, or monitor (telemetry) technicians. The associate degree will prepare students for entry-level positions such as cardiovascular technologists, echocardiographers/echocardiography technologists, or cerebrovascular ultrasound technologists, performing echocardiography, cardiac ultrasound, or other non-invasive tests.

The certificate of completion comprises 29.5 credits, while the associate’s degree requires completion of 73 to 78 credits. Sample some of the courses in the curriculum: introduction to electrocardiography; cardiac anatomy/pathophysiology; introduction to invasive cardiology; introduction to sonography and imaging physics; introduction to echocardiography; ultrasound sonographic physics and instrumentation; and cerebrovascular and peripheral ultrasound.

  • Location: Costa Mesa, CA
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP); Joint Review Committee on Education in Cardiovascular Technology (JRC-CVT); Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College
  • Expected Time to Completion: AS (22 months); certificate of completion (12 months)

Florida SouthWestern State College

Florida SouthWestern State College offers an associate of science degree in cardiovascular technology, preparing students to apply for the invasive cardiology registry exam offered by the CCI (Cardiovascular Credentialing International) for national certification.

After completing the national exam, graduates can earn the RCIS (Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist) credential. Florida SouthWestern State College also offers a BS degree in cardiopulmonary sciences. Graduates of the AS degree with the RCIS credential will be eligible to apply for the bachelor’s program.

The associate in science degree consists of 77 credits including coursework in an introduction to cardiopulmonary technology; cardiovascular pharmacology; invasive cardiology; non-invasive cardiology technology; critical care applications; cardiovascular technologist as a professional; and cardiopulmonary anatomy and physiology.

  • Location: Punta Gorda, FL; Naples, FL; Fort Myers, FL; LaBelle, FL
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP); Joint Review Committee on Education in Cardiovascular Technology (JRC-CVT); Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Dallas College

Dallas College’s El Centro Campus offers an associate of applied science degree and an advanced technical certificate in invasive cardiovascular technology. The associate degree includes intensive didactic and clinical training where students will learn about the techniques used in diagnosing, treating, and following cardiovascular disease in humans.

Graduates will be prepared for employment in the medical specialty of an invasive cardiovascular technologist. The advanced technical certificate is for those who have at least a previous associate degree in a designated allied health field or a bachelor’s degree with a major in a science discipline.

The AAS degree comprises 60 credits, while the advanced certificate comprises 40 credits. The curriculum includes courses in cardiovascular pathophysiology, cardiac catheterization, cardiovascular anatomy and physiology, catheterization lab fundamentals clinical-cardiovascular technology/technologist, and peripheral vascular studies.

  • Location: Dallas, TX
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP); Joint Review Committee on Education in Cardiovascular Technology (JRC-CVT); Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: AAS (five semesters); certificate (three semesters)

Gwinnett Technical College

The Gwinnett Technical College offers an invasive cardiovascular technology program providing students with the latest training in ECGs, sterile techniques, hemodynamics, x-radiation safety, and other skills required for assisting in cardiac and peripheral catheterization. Graduates will be able to provide direct patient care and may find employment in outpatient cardiovascular catheterization labs, surgical and medical hospitals, or in industry sales and education positions. Graduates will be eligible to sit for the national board exam administered by CCI.

The curriculum of this AAS degree program is 72 credits and includes courses such as cardiac catheterization, medical physics, advanced hemodynamics and cardiac physiology, drug calculations and administration, electrophysiology and cardiac anatomy, anatomy and physiology, and cardiac catheterization fundamentals.

  • Location: Alpharetta, GA; Lawrenceville, GA
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP); Joint Review Committee on Education in Cardiovascular Technology (JRC-CVT); Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Career Outlook & Salary – Cardiovascular Technologists

Medical advancements and an aging Baby Boomer population drive demand for cardiovascular technicians. Occupational data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2023) projects cardiovascular technology positions will grow by 4 percent between 2022 and 2032. This is slightly more than the average for all U.S. occupations during that same decade (3 percent).

Employment and advancement opportunities usually grow with education, certification, and experience. The number of job opportunities and salary ranges also depend on the location of employment.

According to the BLS (May 2023), cardiovascular technologists earned a median annual salary of $63,020. In detailed terms, here are the salary percentiles among all cardiovascular technologists and technicians nationally:

United States (55,660 employed): $70,270 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $36,620
  • 25th percentile: $44,160
  • 50th percentile (median): $66,170
  • 75th percentile: $85,930
  • 90th percentile: $105,140

Techs working in offices of other health practitioners tended to earn slightly more than their peers, followed by those in outpatient care centers. These salary differences were relatively minor, however, ranging from about $1,000 to $3,000.

The BLS publishes up-to-date and comprehensive occupational data, and cardiovascular techs are encouraged to review earnings by state or metropolitan area when considering future employment options.

Rachel Drummond, MEd
Rachel Drummond, MEd Writer

Rachel Drummond has contributed insightful articles to since 2019, where she offers valuable advice and guidance for those pursuing careers in the healthcare field, combining her passion for education with her understanding of the critical role that healthcare professionals play in promoting physical and mental well-being.

Rachel is a writer, educator, and coach from Oregon. She has a master’s degree in education (MEd) and has over 15 years of experience teaching English, public speaking, and mindfulness to international audiences in the United States, Japan, and Spain. She writes about the mind-body benefits of contemplative movement practices like yoga on her blog, inviting people to prioritize their unique version of well-being and empowering everyone to live healthier and more balanced lives.