Echo technicians are ultrasound technicians who have specialized in using echocardiogram technology to produce images of patient's hearts. This field requires an associate's degree in medical sonography, and further specialization within the field is possible. Echo techs work with patients, technology, other medical staff, and may have other responsibilities like record keeping.
Echo technicians, also known as echocardiography technicians, create 2-D and 3-D pictures of patients' hearts though the use of high frequency sound waves and special equipment. Prospective technicians can seek a 2-year degree in medical sonography or a similar field. Employers may also prefer to hire echo techs with professional certifications.
|Required Education||Associate's degree in diagnostic medical sonography is often preferred; certificate programs are available for those with degrees in a medical field|
|Certification||Voluntary, but preferred by many employers; the Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer certification from ARDMS is one such designation|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||22% for cardiovascular technicians and technologists*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$54,880 for cardiovascular technicians and technologists*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Career Description of an Echo Technician
Echocardiography is one of the specializations that may be chosen by an ultrasound technician. Professionals in this field use sound wave projectors to project sound into human tissue in a conical or rectangular beam. The sound then echoes back to a receiver that returns data to a computer which is used to create an image of the tissue. Echo technicians may specialize in adult echocardiography, pediatric echocardiography or fetal echocardiography.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predictsa 22% job growth for cardiovascular technicians and technologists from 2014-2024, which is a faster rate than average. In 2015, the BLS listed the median salary for these professionals at $54,880 per year, with the bottom 10% earning $28,420 or less, and the top 10% earning $87,170 or more.
Echo technicians are responsible for preparing patients and diagnostic equipment for imaging procedures. They also explain procedures to patients. After positioning the patient, an echo tech applies gel that aids in sound transmission to the patient's skin before using the diagnostic equipment to create images of the patient's heart. Afterward, the echo technician helps physicians interpret the data from the images and determines which images should be saved and which should be discarded. Echo technicians may also be responsible for ensuring that records are kept properly.
Career and Education Requirements
There is not a specific education program required to work as an echo technician, but employers may prefer to hire those who have a completed a 2-year degree in diagnostic medical sonography from a program accredited by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Certificate programs specific to echocardiography are also available, but students typically need to have a degree in a related area to enroll. Coursework typically covers cardiac anatomy, cardiac disease recognition and patient positioning.
A number of professional certifications are available for echo techs, and while these may not be necessary for employment, professional certification may lead to higher wages and career advancement. Certifications specifically for echo technicians include the Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer certification from ARDMS.
Echo techs typically first complete a degree in medical sonography. They can later pursue further specialization or certification in echocardiography, and certain specialized fields of echocardiography. Once working, they position patients, use echo technology, and produce images that show 2D and 3D views of a patient's heart.