Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist

Becoming a cardiovascular invasive specialist (CVIS) can open many doors to an exciting and rewarding career in the healthcare field. By combining specialized medical knowledge with technical skills, cardiovascular invasive specialists are integral to any healthcare team when diagnosing and treating cardiac illness. This job involves working directly alongside clinicians to perform invasive tests such as echocardiograms, angiograms, and cardiac catheterizations, enabling healthcare practitioners to gain greater insight into their patient’s condition.

This career requires specialized training and education. Aspiring CVISs must complete a  certificate or an associate’s degree program in cardiovascular technology.

These programs typically take one to two years to complete and include classroom lectures, laboratory training, and clinical rotations. Students will gain foundational knowledge in cardiovascular anatomy, imaging, and electrocardiography, as well as learn how to operate various cardiovascular equipment and assist doctors during procedures. Upon graduation from an accredited program, students can take a certification exam to become a Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) through the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2023), job prospects for cardiovascular invasive specialists are quite good. Between 2022 and 2032, there is an estimated 10 percent growth in jobs in this field, much higher than the 3 percent average for all other jobs. This demand is due to an aging population with an increased demand for medical care and retiring from the workforce. On average, CVISs earn $65,490 per year. 

Continue reading to learn what it takes to become a CVIS, including typical job duties, top programs, potential earnings, and certification requirements.

Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist Specializations & Degree Types

Cardiovascular invasive specialists are specialized cardiovascular technologists who perform invasive procedures. They have completed additional training that allows them to work alongside physicians as they perform cardiac or vascular catheterization procedures. To gain the necessary knowledge and skills to work in this field, students can complete a certificate, associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s of science. The degree completed varies based on previous education and academic and professional goals. 

Admissions Requirements for Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist Programs

The admission requirements for CVIS programs will vary based on the type of program and the degree or certificate pursued. Typically, certificate programs will require at least a degree in allied health at the associate’s or bachelor’s level. Associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs typically require prerequisite coursework, a minimum GPA, entrance testing to demonstrate readiness for college-level coursework and a letter of intent. Depending on the competitiveness of admission to a program, students may be required to provide proof of work experience or letters of recommendation. 

Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist Program Accreditation

Accreditation is an essential factor to consider when choosing a CVIS program, as it ensures that the program meets educational standards and that graduates are well-prepared for their future careers. The two primary accrediting bodies for CVIS programs are the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and the Joint Review Committee on Education in Cardiovascular Technology (JRC-CVT). Attending an accredited program is not required for certification, although it is the most direct path to establish eligibility.

On-Campus Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist Degree Programs

Trinity Health of New England 

The School of Invasive Cardiovascular Technology at Trinity Health of New England offers a specialized one-year certificate program. This program equips graduates with the necessary knowledge and skills to assist in procedures conducted within modern catheterization laboratories. Students in this program will receive comprehensive education on the fundamentals of heart and vascular function and physiology. They will then focus on core cardiovascular courses, including theoretical, practical, laboratory, and clinical components. 

The clinical practicum takes place at Saint Francis Hospital, as well as affiliated hospitals across Connecticut. Upon completing the program, invasive technologists will be prepared to work alongside cardiologists, cardiovascular nurses, and other healthcare specialists. They will be skilled in conducting advanced tests to diagnose and assess cardiac disorders. 

  • Location: Hartford CT
  • Duration: One year
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Tuition: $17,000 total

Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University is the only institution in the county to offer an accredited baccalaureate invasive cardiovascular technology program. This specialized program exposes students to cutting-edge equipment within interventional cardiology suites, cardiac cath labs, vascular hybrid suites, and neurovascular arenas. Students in this program have the opportunity to complete five clinical rotations at clinical sites located across the southeastern region. This experience equips individuals with the necessary skills and expertise to excel in this field. 

Graduates of this program are prepared to contribute effectively in invasive cardiovascular settings, proficiently conducting both diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. For the past three years, 100 percent of students have passed the RCIS exam and have had a job placement within six months of graduation. 

  • Location: Savannah, GA
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Tuition: $642.73 per credit

St. Philip’s College 

At St. Phillip’s College in San Antonio, TX, students can complete one of three invasive cardiovascular technology programs. They include an associate’s, an advanced technical certificate, and a level 1 certificate. The comprehensive training prepares students to perform intricate cardiac procedures such as Percutaneous Transcatheter Coronary Angiography (PTCA), Peripheral Coronary Interventions (PCI), Electrophysiology studies, Peripheral Vascular Angiography/Interventions, Hemodynamic Cardiac Pressure Monitoring, and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS).

Upon completing the program, graduates are eligible to take the Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) credential exam administered by Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). The certificate programs each take one year to complete with an optional additional semester of practicum experience, while the associate takes two years. 

  • Location: San Antonio, TX 
  • Duration: One to two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Tuition: $14,122 per year

Valencia College

Students can complete their associate’s in science degree in cardiovascular technology at Valencia College in just two years. Graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge required for a specialized career as a cardiovascular technologist, including how to perform electrocardiograms, heart catheterizations, and similar invasive tests. This program boasts a 90 to 95 percent graduate placement rate within six months of graduation. 

Applicants who already hold industry certifications may receive college credit that can expedite the program.  To be eligible for admission, students must complete prerequisite coursework in human anatomy and college algebra. All applicants must also provide a TEAS score taken either at Valencia College or another institution. 

  • Location: Orlando, FL
  • Duration: Two years (six semesters)
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Tuition: $390.96 per credit

Milwaukee Area Technical College 

The cardiovascular technology-invasive degree at Milwaukee Area Technical College prepares students for a career in invasive cardiovascular technology. Completing this program fulfills the prerequisites for taking the Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) exam administered by Cardiac Credentialing International (CCI). Graduates of the program are also eligible to take the Registered Cardiac Sonographer (CCI) or Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer exams. There is also an option to earn an EKG technician certificate while earning this degree. 

To be eligible for admission, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, an HP-A2 pre-qualifying exam with a minimum score of 80 percent, and a C+ or higher in BIOSCI-177. There are both spring and fall start dates to allow students the flexibility to begin their studies when it is most convenient for them. 

  • Location: Milwaukee, WI
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Tuition: $2,506 per semester

Spokane Community College 

Spokane Community College offers a two-year invasive cardiovascular program. In the first year, students are immersed in foundational knowledge of basic sciences and cardiology alongside the noninvasive cardiovascular program. This integrated approach provides a well-rounded understanding of both disciplines. During the second year, students shift their focus toward the technical responsibilities of a cardiac catheterization technologist. They gain practical experience by spending time working in local hospital cardiac laboratories, honing their skills in a real-world setting.

Following the completion of six quarters of didactic training, students have the opportunity to select an out-of-town medical center for a final quarter of clinical internship. This hands-on experience further enhances their expertise and prepares them for the field.

  • Location: Spokane, WA
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Tuition: $177.91 per credit

Florida Southwestern State College 

Graduates of the cardiovascular technology associate of science degree at Florida Southwestern State College are prepared to sit for the Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS). This two-year comprehensive program focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of patients with cardiac and vascular disease. Students will complete coursework in both invasive and non-invasive cardiovascular technology. Required courses include cardiovascular pharmacology, invasive cardiology, cardiovascular stimulation, and advanced cardiac care.

To complete this degree, students must earn at least 77 credit hours, of which 47 credit hours are in cardiovascular technology. The remaining courses are in general education requirements, such as English composition, anatomy and physiology, and microbiology.

  • Location: Lancaster, PA
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Tuition: $432.63 per credit

Florida State College at Jacksonville 

The associate’s in science in cardiovascular technology at Florida State College at Jacksonville offers a well-structured curriculum encompassing both general education courses and specialized core classes for the invasive and noninvasive cardiovascular tracks. Through this program, students gain the essential knowledge and skills to become valuable members of cardiovascular teams in their roles as registered cardiovascular invasive specialists and registered cardiac sonographers/registered diagnostic cardiac sonographers.

Due to the competitiveness of this program, students must complete their general education requirements before applying to this degree. Prerequisite coursework includes humanities, social and behavioral sciences, human anatomy and physiology, English composition, and college algebra.  Applicants must also complete CPR/BLS training and have volunteer or work experience in healthcare. 

  • Location: Lancaster, PA
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Tuition: $8,076 total

Hybrid Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist Degree Programs

Due to the hands-on nature of intensive cardiovascular education programs, there are no completely online programs. Here are two programs that offer some of their coursework in a hybrid format. 

Mayo Clinic – College of Medicine and Science

The didactic portion of the advanced cardiovascular sonographer training at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science is offered online. This 16-month-long program boasts a 100 percent graduation rate and has only eight students in each class. Clinical training is completed at the Mayo Clinic Echocardiography Laboratory in Rochester. There’s only one start time in August each year for this program. Students who are admitted to this program do not have to pay tuition, thanks to the Mayo Clinic Workforce Development Scholarship.

Online classes are offered asynchronously with the option of web conference interaction. In total, students must complete 20 credits to earn this certificate. Required classes include patient care and assessment, Advanced Cardiovascular hemodynamics, and cardiovascular pharmacology.

  • Location: Rochester, MN
  • Duration: 16 months 
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Tuition: Covered by a scholarship for workforce development

Carnegie Institute

Since 1947, the Carnegie Institute has provided outstanding allied health education, and its invasive cardiovascular technologist program is no exception.  This program offers both online and practical application classes for a hybrid program that allows students to have a greater degree of flexibility. Small class sizes, one-on-one instruction, and experienced faculty ensure that students gain the skills and knowledge they need to excel in this field.

Required classes that all students must take include anatomy and physiology, therapeutic communications, cardiovascular pharmacology, Advanced electrocardiography, and physics. Graduates of this program are eligible to sit for the RCIS national exam through CCI.

  • Location: Lancaster, PA
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Tuition: $670 per credit

How Long Does it Take to Become a Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist?

The time it takes to become a CVIS depends on the program completed. Generally, an associate’s degree takes two years, while a bachelor’s takes four. Certificate programs can take as little as a year but require previous education.

How To Become a Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist – Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Graduate from High School or Complete a GED (Four Years)

A high school diploma or GED is the first step towards becoming a CVIS. Students should focus on science and math courses during high school to lay a strong foundation for future studies.

Step 2: Complete Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist Education (One to Four Years) 

Next, students will need to complete an accredited cardiovascular invasive specialist program. These programs are typically offered at community colleges or technical schools and can take one to two years to complete. There is an option for a bachelor’s degree should students want to pursue a higher level of education, which takes four years.  During these studies, students will learn about the cardiovascular system, invasive procedures, medical imaging technology, patient care, and more.

Step 3: Obtain Entry Level Cardiovascular Technology Work Experience (Optional, One to Two Years)

While not always required, gaining entry-level work experience in cardiovascular technology can significantly enhance graduates’ skills and employability. Aspiring CVISs should consider seeking opportunities to work in a healthcare setting, such as hospitals or clinics, that will provide valuable hands-on training and help them become familiar with the practical aspects of the job.

Step 4: Earn a Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist Certification (Optional, Timeline Varies)

Obtaining a certification as a Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) is optional but highly recommended. This certification demonstrates expertise and dedication to the field. To become certified, candidates must pass the RCIS exam administered by Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI).

Step 5: Obtain a Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist State Licensure If Necessary (Timeline Varies)

Depending on the state a CVIS plans to work in, they may need to obtain a state license to practice. The requirements and timelines for obtaining licensure vary by state, so it’s important to research and understand the specific regulations in the intended practice area.

What Do Cardiovascular Invasive Specialists Do?

CVISs typically work in healthcare settings such as hospitals, cardiac catheterization labs, and specialty clinics. They are part of the cardiac care team and assist cardiologists and other medical professionals in performing invasive procedures to diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions. Typical day-to-day duties can include:

  • Assisting cardiologists and other healthcare professionals during invasive cardiovascular procedures 
  • Operating and maintaining specialized equipment used in invasive cardiovascular procedures, including imaging systems, monitoring devices, and hemodynamic monitoring equipment.
  • Preparing patients for procedures by explaining the process, obtaining consent, and ensuring their comfort and safety.
  • Monitoring patients’ vital signs and responses during procedures, alerting the medical team to any changes or complications.
  • Administering medications and contrast agents as directed by the medical team.
  • Documenting and recording patient information, procedure details, and any adverse events or complications.
  • Assisting with the insertion and removal of catheters, wires, and other devices used in invasive cardiovascular procedures.
  • Collaborating with the healthcare team to ensure a sterile environment and adhere to infection control protocols.
  • Providing patient education and post-procedure care instructions to promote recovery and prevent complications.
  • Participating in quality assurance activities, including maintaining equipment, monitoring radiation safety, and following established protocols for patient care.

Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist Certifications & Licensure 

As of October 2023, only the state of Washington requires that CVISs have a license to practice. Laws can change at any time, so CVISs should contact their local board to ensure they have the qualifications necessary to practice in their state. The requirements for Washington include:

  • Complete a cardiovascular invasive specialist educational program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), which uses the standards and criteria established by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Cardiovascular Technology (JRC-CVT)
  • Pass one of the following exams: Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) examination through the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI), Registered Electrophysiology Specialist (RCES) examination through CCI, North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology (NASPE) examination through the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS), International Board of Heart Rhythm Examiners (IBHRE) examination (formerly the NASPE) through HRS, Cardiac Interventional Radiographer (RTR-CI) post-primary examination through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), Vascular Interventional Radiographer (RTR-VI) post-primary examination through the ARRT, or Cardiovascular Interventional Radiographer (RTR-CV) post-primary examination through the ARRT
  • Pay an application fee

Certification for CVISs is a voluntary process but can demonstrate a high level of competency in this field and may be required by employers. The primary certification for CVISs is Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) through Cardiovascular Credentialing International. To sit for the exam, candidates must meet one of the following eligibility requirements:

  • Graduate from a certificate or degree-granting program or post-secondary educational program in a health science (includes but not limited to cardiovascular technology, ultrasound, radiologic technology, respiratory therapy, nursing, or paramedic/EMT) and one year of full-time work experience in invasive cardiovascular technology and 600 cardiac diagnostic/interventional procedures in their career or
  • Graduate from a non-programmatically accredited program in invasive cardiovascular technology, which has a minimum of one year of specialty training and includes a minimum of 800 clinical hours or 
  • Graduate from an accredited invasive cardiovascular technology program

How Much Do Cardiovascular Invasive Specialists Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2022) groups CVISs with all other cardiovascular technologists and technicians. The average wage for this field is $65,490 annually. The percentiles for wages are:

  • 10th percentile: $33,950
  • 25th percentile: $39,430
  • 50th  percentile (median): $63,020
  • 75th percentile: $81,740
  • 90th percentile: $102,000

PayScale (2023), a salary aggregate website, reports that cardiovascular technologists who work in catheterization labs earn $65,806 per year on average, with the top 90 percent earning $97,000 while the bottom 10 percent earning $39,000 annually.

Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist Career Alternatives

Here are some alternatives to a career as a cardiovascular invasive specialist: 

Become a Cardiovascular Technologist

A cardiovascular technologist, a cardiovascular technician or a cardiac sonographer, specializes in diagnostic tests for heart and blood vessel conditions. They perform non-invasive procedures like echocardiograms, EKGs, stress tests, and more to assess cardiovascular health. Their responsibilities include preparing patients, operating and maintaining equipment, analyzing test results, documenting patient information, ensuring quality control, providing patient care, collaborating with healthcare professionals, and staying updated with advancements in the field.

  • Typical Education: Certificate or associate’s 
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) or the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI)

Become an EKG Technician

An EKG technician performs diagnostic tests to assess the electrical activity of the heart. They prepare patients for the test, operate and maintain EKG machines, apply electrodes to the patient’s body, record electrical impulses, analyze the obtained readings, and document the results and patient information. They also provide patient care and comfort throughout the process, ensure quality assurance in testing, and collaborate with healthcare professionals for accurate interpretation and treatment planning. 

  • Typical Education: Certificate or associate’s 
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization:  American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography(ARDMS), Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI), National Center for Competency Testing (NCCT), National Healthcareer Association (NHA), and National Association for Health Professionals (NAHP). 

Become a Radiation Therapist 

Radiation therapists collaborate with physicians and the healthcare team to deliver radiation treatments. They must communicate treatment plans to patients and address any questions regarding radiological treatments. They are responsible for identifying the treatment area, operating radiation machines, ensuring proper calibration, and taking precautions to protect both patients and themselves from excessive radiation exposure. Radiation therapists also monitor patients for any uncommon reactions during treatment and maintain comprehensive records of the treatment process.

  • Typical Education: Associate’s  
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)
Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson


At, Kimmy Gustafson has delivered in-depth and insightful articles since 2019, aiding prospective students to navigate the complexities of choosing the right healthcare degree. Her recent work includes topics such as the ethics of gene editing and physician assistant’s fight for autonomy.

Kimmy has been a freelance writer for more than a decade, writing hundreds of articles on a wide variety of topics such as startups, nonprofits, healthcare, kiteboarding, the outdoors, and higher education. She is passionate about seeing the world and has traveled to over 27 countries. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. When not working, she can be found outdoors, parenting, kiteboarding, or cooking.

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