Echocardiographers use ultrasound technology to construct two- and three-dimensional representations of patients' hearts, which are used for diagnostic purposes. Master's degree programs in echocardiography are uncommon, but many schools offer bachelor's degree programs in the sonography, which provide training in the field. These programs cover the technology and methodology used in noninvasive medical diagnostics. Students learn to use ultrasound and echocardiography equipment to generate images of patients' insides. They also learn to identify various ailments that can appear on echocardiography and sonography images. Most programs require students to get hands-on training with echocardiography equipment in a clinical setting.
In order to apply to a bachelor's degree program in sonography, students must have a high school degree or the equivalent, as well as strong skills in math and science. Taking a high school course in mechanics can also be helpful, as students learn to operate equipment similar to that used in diagnostic sonography programs.
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Bachelor's Degree in Sonography
In a bachelor's degree program in sonography, students can expect to study high-resolution imaging and the physics of sonography. The echocardiography courses included in these programs emphasize imaging methods and technology used on patients' cardiovascular systems. Common course titles include:
- Pelvic imaging
- Vascular technology
- Abdominal sonography
- Echocardiography technology
- Comparative imaging
- Sonography ethics
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) predicts job growth of 22% for cardiovascular technologists and technicians, which includes echocardiographers, between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also reported in 2015 that cardiovascular technologists and technicians earned a median annual wage of $54,880.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
While certification isn't required by law, many diagnostic medical sonographers earn credentials through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). These organizations recognize people who have graduated from an accredited program and passed an exam. Credentials are available for several sonographic specialties, such as cardiovascular or abdominal imaging.
Even though a master's degree in the field is unavailable, students who want to become echocardiographers can gain the technical skills and hands-on experience they need for imaging careers in health care by earning a bachelor's degree in sonography.