Non-invasive cardiovascular technology professionals, including echocardiographers and vascular technologists, assist physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of heart and blood vessel conditions through the use of ultrasound technology, or sound wave imaging. Those interested in working in this field usually need an associate's or bachelor's degree related to radiography, although those already working in some healthcare positions can earn a certificate instead. These professionals also need to meet state and employer requirements, which might include licensure and professional certification.
|Career||Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians||Diagnostic Medical Sonographers|
|Required Education||Certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree||Certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Licensure and/or professional certification||Licensure and/or professional certification|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)||30%*||46%*|
|Mean Salary (2013)||$53,990*||$67,170*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Echocardiographers, also known as cardiac sonographers, use ultrasound technology to create echocardiograms. Echocardiograms are used to evaluate the health of the heart and its related components, such as blood vessels and valves. Under the direction of a physician, an echocardiographer might sometimes administer medication to patients to determine the health of the heart.
Vascular technologists, also known as vascular sonographers, evaluate patients for circulation disorders. They might take pulses, listen to blood flow and use ultrasound technology to determine the state of vascular health. Physicians often use these findings to assist in the diagnosis of problems and in formulating a treatment plan following surgery.
Non-invasive cardiovascular technologists have the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology in a flexible environment. Their work might be performed in hospitals, clinics and medical office settings. For all cardiovascular technologists, familiarity with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is important, given the fact that the patient population in question is often prone to heart attacks.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, cardiovascular technologists and technicians in general had a mean annual salary of $53,990 in May 2013. Those who worked as diagnostic sonographers had a mean income of $67,170 a year (www.bls.gov).
The BLS projected that the number of cardiovascular technologists and technicians would increase by 30% between 2012 and 2022. This faster-than-average increase was due in part to the increased use of less expensive and less invasive technologies, such as ultrasound, in hospitals and medical practices.
Diagnostic medical sonographers were expected to see a 46% increase in employment during that time, as ultrasound imaging technology is increasingly used. According to the BLS, technologists most in demand would have training and credentials in a variety of sonography specialties and techniques.