Cardiac Cath Lab Tech (or Technologist) - An internationale cardiologists best friend

Seemingly a descriptive job title, cardiac cath lab tech can encompass an enormous variety of skillsets, licenses, credentials and certifications. The cath lab tech is more aptly described in terms of the roles they can perform during cardiac catheterization procedures.

  • Circulating (sedating the patient – Nurse role)
  • Monitoring (logging vitals and procedure timeline into medical record – Nurse or tech)
  • X-Ray / Panning (moving the patient table, X-Ray – Tech role with fluoroscopy license)
  • Scrubbing (providing wires and catheters next to cardiologist – Tech role with no license)

A cardiac cath lab technologist is able to help in 3 of the 4 roles above. With a fluoroscopy license (in states with those requirements), the tech can also perform the X-ray function in addition to the scrubbing role, or standalone depending on the cardiovascular procedure team organization.

Why Work with Phoenix?

Unlike other staffing agencies, at Phoenix we tell you the bill rate of your assignment. On top of that, we don't profit on your extra hard work (OT, CBOT, DT, On Call Hours) - we only cover our costs of Worker's Comp and taxes.

A cath lab tech can fill multiple roles and help in many places...

In the cardiac catheterization lab, there are three main distinctions for cath lab technologists:

  • Radiologic Technologist (RT) – has a fluoroscopy license
  • Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) – certification that can be required for non-fluoro cath lab tech positions, but is not a license that allows someone to perform a function (more below)
  • Cardiovascular technician (CVT) – does not hold a fluoro license, nor RCIS certification

A really good cath lab technician can be the most important tool to a cardiologist providing valuable advice on guide wires and catheters and anticipating the cardiologists moves to work in rhythm together. 


Cath Lab Technician Careers, School, Degree and Certification

Cath lab technologists can come from every background imaginable: on the job trained with 20 years of experience without a degree to a graduate of a college program with a specialty cardiovascular technology program.  Some schools will specialize in Radiologic Science for fluoroscopy and have certificate programs for specialties.  


The Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS) credential is a way to stand out

It can be held by a nurse, technologist, technician, those with fluoro, those without…because it is a test of invasive heart knowledge covering all aspects of cardiac care.  There are other credentials that cover cardiac knowledge, however those exams are not universally available like the RCIS.  For example, Radiologic Technologists have the option of pursuing the Cardiac Intervention or the Vascular Intervention credential from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, however that is limited to RTs and excludes those cardiovascular tech cath that do not have their ARRT card.  

The RCIS is offered monthly by the Cardiac Credentialing Institute and the exam fee is much lower ($350) than some other industry testing options (which can be offered only once per year at a cost over $1000).  From a careers perspective, the RCIS (and the electrophysiology sister credential RCES) are the highest credential you’ll need to set your profile apart from the rest.

When the RCIS was introduced, there was a period where technicians were able to be “grandfathered” into the entrance requirements if they had extensive invasive heart experience.  Later updates to the program only allowed students from cardiovascular technology programs to register.


What makes a Cath Lab Technician a Technologist?


Technically speaking, a cardiac cath lab technician becomes a technologist (RT) by obtaining their Radiologic Science degree or an RCIS certification.  While the RCIS is not a license, many catheterization laboratory jobs will request the certification.

We have the best Cardiac Catheterization Lab relationships in the country and that leads to the best jobs and most successful placements.

We’re calling you because we know that you are uniquely qualified and we know the value of your skill set and the best place to practice, learn and grow.

Why is Phoenix MedStaff a Trusted
Cath Lab Travel Agency?

We're serving the community because we provide REAL value...

There are plenty of healthcare staffing companies that recruit cath lab professionals (both nursing and allied) that we believe are doing a disservice to the work you do.  We also believe that each cath lab specialist has a unique set of skills that came from your experience in different labs combined with how you were taught and learned.  The combination of those experiences is as unique as a fingerprint. 

We have over 70 years of experience – in Cath Lab.  Not Med/Surg, Oncology, Tele, not LVNs, CNAs or other.  Not to say we won’t help our hospitals with other modalities (after all, we would never turn away an ICU referral from one of our cardiology team members!), but our bread, butter, honey and spice is Cardiac Cath Lab, Interventional Radiology and Electrophysiology.  

When you travel with Phoenix, our value extends further than just helping pick a full time days Cath Lab job...

Anyone can search a job board and find a “full time days” job, but in the cath lab world that’s almost meaningless to us (since they’re all full-time day shift).  It’s about working together to make life easier, which makes healthcare better.  Once you leave the hospital, you are expected to manage your credential expirations.  We believe we offer best in class employee benefits and credential management: 

  • We pay for your clinical licensures (RN and Allied)
  • We pay for credentials (RCIS, RCES, IBHRE)
  • We pay for CPR (ACLS, BLS)
  • We pay for medical items when onboarding for an assignment

Top Tier Employee Healthcare, PTO & Retirement Benefits...

  • Insurances – Medical, Dental, Vision, ST Disability, Cancer, Accident and much more!
  • 4 different HSA / FSA options to supplement
  • 401K employer match of 5% – vested and starting Day 1
  • Extra 401K 2% match after 500 hours
  • PTO – vested and starting Day 1
  • Health Advocate Network – have a medical professional review any medical bill over $400, going line by line, code by code to save you money
  • Plus, ask the Health Advocate for mental wellness or legal advice!

Education matters at Phoenix...

For cardiac allied health professionals, there are a ton of credentials available to you.  In our view, the Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist is the most universally recognized and available to the entire cardiovascular community.

We know every Cath Lab in the United States...

The types of medical equipment, the on call structures, the cardiac department organization…that info is not posted in your typical travel cath lab tech job description but is absolutely critical to you feeling comfortable on your first day or feeling like you’re playing catch up.  And these nuances are not as important when you get into floor nursing so a lot of agencies do not focus on it.  But the details matter!

Am I ready for travel Cath Lab jobs?

What is a traveling cath lab tech? What do they do?

A cath tech is an allied health professional that plays an important part of the medical team to assist the doctor in many different roles – panning, scrubbing, monitoring – in non-invasive cardiovascular cases to life saving invasive surgery like Angioplasty, Stenting and Rotoblading.  During a cardiac catheterization, a cardiovascular invasive specialist (tech) will set up their tray with the appropriate guide wires and catheters and assist the physician with the needed equipment for the case.  

The difference between a good tech and a great tech is the skill set and knowledge a tech brings to each and every case, the ability to anticipate the doctor’s next move, and the ability to adapt and change the direction of the case in an instant.  Each job will expect a travel cath lab tech to be able to jump right in.  A day of orientation, some time for the individual lab details and a few questions about physician preferences and it’s time to rock and roll.

Nurse or tech, cath lab is demanding.  But the most demanding jobs are always the most rewarding!  

How does travel pay for cath lab tech jobs compare to say…my staff tech salary?

Cardiovascular catheterization specialist jobs can be very lucrative, but travel agencies generally don’t use the term “salary”.  Compensation for travel is estimated to be up to 3x as high as salaried positions.  But how do we compare apples to apples?  In order to properly compare a salary position to a travel job, you need to compare what gets deposited in the bank, less any extra expenses (like a second place to live while you work in another city).

Let's break it down...

Travel cath lab technologist pay, for example, would include compensation buckets for the following::

  • Taxable wages (most commonly compared to your earning wage at a hospital)
    • Separate rates for regular hours, OT hours, CBOT, DT and On Call
  • Stipend (tax free amount used to cover living / work expenses below)
    • Usually capped by the weekly days or hrs worked
    • 4 10-hour shift schedule will be capped at 40, while 3 12’s would be capped at 36
  • Sign on or extension bonuses
  • Employer paid benefits (health insurance premiums, PTO or 401K matching)

Additionally, some extra expenses to include in your comparison:

  • Extra rent
  • Food
  • Parking or other professional services
  • The tax-free expense stipend covers these expenses

As a healthcare facility staff member, your lab tech salary is primarily comprised of:

  • Taxable wages determined by clinical ladder
  • No tax-free stipend
  • Sign on bonuses available on occasion, but not regularly

Travel jobs are able to bestow tax benefits as some of the funds are used to cover secondary living expenses used in the course of work, however it makes rates hard to compare.  The best way to compare a salary job to a lab tech travel job is converting the salary to an hourly rate and “grossing up” the stipend to compare all-taxable hourly rates apples to apples. 

  • Salary of $120,000 = ($120,000 / 52 weeks / 40 hours per week) = $57.69
  • Travel Job with $35 taxable per hour and $1000 stipend per week
    • $1000 = $1000 / 40 hours per week = $25 / hour
  • We want to know how a $25 / hour nontax rate compares to a taxable rate
    • $25 nontax = $25 / (1 – tax rate)
    • Tax rate includes payroll taxes, income taxes (state and fed)
    • $25 nontax = $25 / (1 – 25%) = $33.33
  • To properly compare the staff wage of $57.69, the travel position pays a comparable rate of $68.33 ($35.00 plus $33.33)

Travel jobs usually refer to compensation as the “Gross Weekly”.  This is the amount that is all of your working hours multiplied by all of the wage rates, but does not include any additions for on call, OT, or CBOT because these are all “unscheduled” hours and you haven’t worked yet so the “Gross Weekly” estimate is just the scheduled hours (just regular hours).

When compared to a hospital job paycheck, the actual amount that gets deposited into your bank account is considerably higher due to the tax advantages of the stipend. 

Where are the best travel lab tech jobs (whether Cath Lab, IR or EP)?

The age old question! And of course, it comes with a two part answer:

Historically, the highest rates in the country have always come from the West Coast, and California in particular.  The highest rates are typically in Electrophysiology departments looking for someone with mapping experience, with Interventional Radiology at the lower end of the range.

Since Covid arrived, the rest of the markets have caught up and can now exceed cath lab travel jobs in California, especially when considering the lower cost of living in these other areas.  Additionally, the increase in stroke programs has made IR RNs and lab techs more specialized so rates have increased there as well.


The longer answer is….how can you say what the best is?  Every single cath lab tech has their own preferences for the types of cases and equipment, the size of the lab, the patient demographics, what they’re allowed to do (circ, monitor, scrub, run the stim, etc). 

The best advice is to travel with a company that knows the details about the labs or at the very least, will fight with you to get all the information.

 For the latest monthly trends and in each of the specialties, check out our Monthly Market report, the Phoenix Heartbeat!

How do I know which travel cath job is right for me?

The better question is…what can you get from the jobs that are on the job boards?  Not a whole lot when it comes down to the nitty gritty.  When it comes to cath lab, talking on the phone with one of our lab advisors is a big help.  

Maybe you’re looking to gain some experience with rotablators or want to shoot for dedicated EP jobs.  Maybe this time you want to look at a job that give you a little more outdoorsy life, whereas another job lets you see family in the city.  Every single time you search cath lab jobs is an opportunity to gain new life experiences, both personal and professional.  And we’d love to be there for the ride!

Research Online!

Cath Lab Digest (and the sister EP Lab Digest) by HMTP Global is a great way to read an in depth interview with the clinical leadership of the labs you’re interested in.

Talk to a Cath Lab Advisor - it’s free and we love to chat lab gossip!

For days and days…the lab gossip never stops.  And we love to hear about the fun stories from the pre-Covid days!  If you want to know any back stories or get the real deal info on a lab, give us a call.  We cherish the chance to hear about your experiences and to share ours.  It’s how we get better!

Interview, interview, interview!

Take a few interviews and hone the skills.  See how different cardiovascular labs run their cardiac travel staffing programs.  Each manager will ask different questions, so practice makes perfect!

Check out our Cath Lab Interview questions to get an idea!

So, what are you waiting for?

Join the flock and get in touch with a recruiter today!

Apply Now