The Demand for Travel Cath Lab Techs

Serving an aging population in need of cardiac care, hospitals across the country need cardiovascular technologists to work in catheterization laboratories, to help open blocked cardiac arteries and assist physicians with other procedures.

“Saving lives is amazing,” said Benjamin Ochoa, BS, RCIS, RCS, program director at the Invasive Cardiovascular Technology program at St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas, describing the rewards offered by the profession.

Ochoa reported that his program cannot educate new cath lab technologists quickly enough to meet demand by employers.

Cath lab technologists assist physicians during cardiac procedures, such as percutaneous transcatheter coronary angiography and peripheral coronary interventions. Cath lab techs serve as valued members of cath lab teams whose members respond when a patient with a completely blocked artery, or ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, is en route to the hospital.

The three primary functions of the non-physician team members working in an invasive cardiovascular laboratory are circulator, monitor, and scrub tech, Ochoa said.

Early in St. Philip’s 18-month program, cath lab technologist students learn in a classroom, in person or online, and in a laboratory with simulators. This is followed by externships with patients in cath labs. During the last semester of the program, students may learn about other modalities, such as interventional radiology.

In some states, cath lab technologists can give medications. They also may perform electrocardiograms and ultrasound imaging. 

Strong demand for cath lab technologists

A recent industry analysis from Grand View Research found that the major factors facilitating market growth in the U.S. cath labs market are “the high incidence of cardiovascular diseases and the technological advancements in diagnostic techniques.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports job growth for sonographers and cardiovascular technologists is growing faster than average. As of May 2022, the BLS also reports cath lab technologists and technicians earn an estimated mean annual wage of $65,490.

Ochoa reported his students complete their studies and can earn $36 per hour, which can be life-changing for many.

According to the latest salary data from Club Staffing, travel cath lab techs can earn in the range of $2,300-$2,900 per week, including wages, reimbursements for meals and incidental expenses, and housing.

The demands of the profession

Cath lab technologists must work well under pressure and not freeze during a crisis. They are on-call, which can negatively affect a person’s lifestyle. And with the shortage of cath lab techs, often those still on the job work short-staffed.

“It’s a hard profession and not for everybody,” Ochoa said, adding that the profession can have a high turnover and burnout rate.

Ochoa indicated people with some healthcare background who know what working in a cath lab entails do better than candidates who are not familiar with the on-call hours and other challenges of the job. St. Philips tries to recruit healthcare-experienced students.

Requirements for travel cath lab tech jobs

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs lists 35 programs, some hospital-based and some college courses preparing students for invasive cardiovascular technology positions.

The great demand for cardiovascular technologists has led to an abundance of travel cath lab tech jobs across the country.

Travel cath lab positions typically require experience working in a cath lab and an active license, though requirements vary by state. And some labs prefer the traveler to hold professional credentials.

Cardiovascular Credentialing International offers Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist, Registered Cardiac Electrophysiology Specialist, Registered Cardiac Sonographer, and other credentials. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists offers AART certification.

A recruiter with an allied staffing agency like Club Staffing can help candidates determine their eligibility for travel assignments.

A bright future for cardiovascular technologists

Ochoa reported cardiovascular technologists are moving into roles in interventional radiology, cardiac sonography, and electrophysiology.

Cardiovascular non-invasive technologists/echo sonographers perform echocardiograms, imaging of the heart to assess blood flow and pumping capabilities. Echo sonographers may work in the cath lab to supply images during certain procedures. These imaging professionals also are in high demand, for both permanent and travel positions.

Electrophysiology technologists assist electrophysiologists during diagnostic procedures and treatments.

St. Joseph’s program has started cross-training cath lab technologists to perform in echo sonography and electrophysiology roles, which will allow them more flexibility.

“The best thing for technologists to grow are opportunities to branch out into different fields,” Ochoa said.

Cath lab techs also can transition into representing pacemaker manufacturers or pursue management positions, he said.

“It’s a cool time to be in the profession and see the changes,” Ochoa said. “There’s a lot of opportunity and professional growth.”

Find travel cath lab tech jobs

Interested in learning more about travel cardiovascular technologist jobs, or other allied health positions? The Club Staffing team is here to answer your questions, find your ideal assignment, and guide you through every step of the process.

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