Cath Lab Technician: Career and Salary Facts

Cath lab stands for catheterization laboratory, which is a diagnostic imaging facility specifically for diagnosing heart ailments. Learn about the equipment you'd operate as a cath lab technician, and review the training options for the job. Find out more about what you'd do and how much you could earn as a cath lab technician. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Cath Lab Technician Do?

As a cath lab technician, also known as a cardiology technician, you will use machines that help diagnose various conditions of the heart. One machine, the EKG, will allow you to get a reading by attaching electrodes to a patient's body and recording electrical variations of the heart. You can then supply a printout of that reading to a physician for diagnosis.

You may also assist with treadmill stress testing. With this procedure, you record the medical history of the patient, attach the EKG, complete a blood pressure assessment and monitor the performance of the heart while the patient walks on a treadmill. This procedure will observe the effect of increased exertion on the patient's heart while you monitor all of the activity.

Beyond working with various types of cardiac equipment, you may also schedule appointments, maintain files and care for equipment. It may be helpful in this field if you have a tendency to pay close attention to details, are precise about recording data and an organized person.

What Type of Education or Training Do I Need?

Most cath lab technicians who work specifically with EKGs receive on-the-job training that lasts between four and six weeks, but employers often prefer to train individuals who already work in the healthcare field. If you work with more complex equipment, training on-the-job may last between 18 and 24 months. In addition, there are a variety of one-year certificate programs available as well.

This is an entry-level position. While certification and licensing is not required, you can advance from this position with additional education, certification and licensing.

What Is the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this field is expected to experience faster than average job growth between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). The average yearly income for a cath lab technician was $39,535, according to the BLS in 2010, but salaries in this field vary greatly since a cath lab technician can have such a wide variety of responsibilities.

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