Echo technicians learn to use echocardiography technology to take internal images of patient's bodies, which doctors use to view the heart and other organs. Certificate programs require several months to complete and offer basic training through classes and clinical work. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs provide more advanced training, including hands-on training with echocardiography equipment, in addition to meeting general education requirements. Completion of these programs may qualify graduates to apply for professional certifications, which, while not required, are often preferred by employers.
- Program Levels for Echo Technicians: Certificates, associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees.
- Prerequisites: Certificates may require prerequisite coursework or work experience, while others require applicants to be registered nurses. Associate's degrees often require prior coursework and work with computers. Bachelor's programs require high school transcripts and college entrance exam scores.
- Program Length: One to four years.
- Online Availability: Online courses and programs are available.
Certificate in Echocardiography
Echocardiography certificate programs cover the technology and methods used to create images of patients' cardiovascular systems. Most programs cover echocardiography for children and adults, though a limited number may focus on one or the other. Students listen to classroom lectures and complete practical assignments covering electrocardiography technology and cardiovascular disease diagnostics.
Since most echocardiography certificate programs take less than a year to complete, they may require incoming students to already have some medical coursework or employment experience. Some programs require incoming students to already be registered nurses prior to beginning their echocardiography coursework.
The classes in echocardiography certificate programs emphasize the technology used to diagnose cardiovascular disease. Students learn how to operate echocardiography equipment and how to properly view the images created. Courses in the following topics are normally offered:
- Cardiovascular pathology
- Echocardiography diagnostic technology
- Cardiovascular physiology
- Echocardiography technology
- Ultrasound technology
Associate of Applied Science in Echocardiography
Associate of Applied Science (AAS) programs in echocardiography often discuss other types of sonography, like ultrasound, in addition to echocardiography. Students learn about the physical science aspects of echocardiography as well as the practical skills needed to operate the equipment. These degree programs also cover the human cardiovascular system and heart pathology.
Many echocardiography AAS programs admit students who have previous high school or college experience with computers, the natural sciences and mathematics. Applicants often need to submit transcripts showing that they have completed classes in physiology and anatomy, algebra, computer science, biology and physics.
Students in echocardiography AAS programs take classes in medical technology, cardiovascular diagnostics and the physical sciences. Much of the coursework involves hands-on training with echocardiography equipment. Students learn about the subjects mentioned below:
- Sonography technology
- Cardiovascular anatomy
- Echocardiography for adult patients
- Echocardiography for child patients
- Ultrasound physics
Bachelor of Science in Echocardiography
Prospective echo technicians enrolled in Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs in echocardiography study medical science, echocardiography technology and general education topics. Students learn to diagnose various cardiovascular diseases and pathologies by making and examining echocardiograms of patients' bodies. Bachelor's-level degree programs teach students to work with doctors to treat some heart ailments.
Since echocardiography B.S. programs require four years of coursework, including basic medical training, applicants don't need previous experience in the field. Most of these degree programs require incoming students to submit official copies of their high school transcripts and score reports for their college entrance exams.
The classes offered in echocardiography B.S. programs provide students with a knowledge base applicable to sonography and ultrasound in addition to echocardiography. Students also learn basic patient management procedures and cardiovascular care techniques. Students take courses in the topics listed below:
- Cardiovascular pathophysiology
- Medical imaging techniques
- Invasive cardiology methods
- Abdominal testing and imaging
- Medical terminology
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that jobs for all types of cardiovascular technicians, including echo technicians, would increase by 39% between 2012 and 2022. The BLS reported that the median salary for cardiovascular technicians and technologists was $54,330 in 2014.
Continuing Education Information
State certification or licensure isn't required to be an echo technician, but many employers look for job applicants who've obtained voluntary certification. Groups like Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) and the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) award certification to people who graduate from an accredited sonography program and pass a written test. These groups also ask echo techs to complete continuing education courses to remain certified.