Approximately 56,560 cardiovascular technologists and technicians work in the United States. Most work in hospitals, but employment can be found in physicians' offices, clinics, rehab centers, or anyplace electrocardiographs are taken.
Most cardiovascular technologists receive their initial training on their first job, so great care should be taken in finding this first employer. Pay close attention not only to the pay and working conditions, but also to the kind of on-the-job training that is provided for each prospective position. High school vocational counselors may be able to tell you which hospitals have good reputations for EKG training programs. Applying directly to hospitals is a common way of entering the field. Information also can be gained by checking the "Career" or "Employment" sections of online professional association publications that include cardiovascular technologists, and from talking with friends and relatives who work in hospitals.
For students who graduate from one- to two-year training programs, finding a first job should be easier. Employers are always eager to hire people who are already trained, and graduates can be less concerned about the training programs offered by their employers. They should find that their teachers and career advisers can be excellent sources of information about job possibilities in the area. If the training program includes practical experience, the hospital in which students trained or worked before graduation may be willing to hire them after graduation.
Opportunities for advancement are best for cardiovascular technologists who learn to do or assist with more complex procedures, such as stress testing, Holter monitoring, echocardiography, and cardiac catheterization. With proper training and experience, these technicians may eventually become cardiovascular technologists, echocardiography technologists, cardiopulmonary technicians, cardiology technologists, or other specialty technicians or technologists.
In addition to these kinds of specialty positions, experienced technicians may also be able to advance to various supervisory and training posts.
Cardiovascular technologists must listen to patients and take case histories, so take high school and postsecondary courses that require oral communication and writing.
In your postsecondary studies, focus on courses that will prepare you to be certified, since many employers require certification as a condition for employment.
Volunteer or find a part-time job at a hospital or health care facility.
Take math and science courses to familiarize yourself with computational skills and basic scientific concepts and vocabulary.