Echocardiography training programs are one- to two-year programs offered by colleges and universities. Students will use sound waves to create images of the heart. In addition to learning to use the sonogram equipment, students may also learn to assist physicians in performing other cardiac procedures through hands-on practice during clinical training. Graduates of the program go on to become echocardiographers, also called cardiac sonographers.
Prerequisites to enter an echocardiography program may include: an associate's degree in a health field and/or completion of medical coursework (medical terminology, anatomy, physics, etc.). Some schools require applicants to have, and others give preference to those with, experience working in health-care settings.
Training Program in Echocardiography
The coursework in a training program in echocardiography might teach students about the different types of echocardiograms, such as transthoractic and transesophageal. Students study the principles of echocardiography, as well as the physics behind it. Studies may include:
- Echocardiography principles
- Anatomy of the cardiovascular system
- Physics of ultrasound
- Stress echocardiography
- Echocardiography for critically-ill patients
- Medical ethics
Job Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for all types of cardiovascular technologists and technicians is expected to increase by 22% from 2014-2024 due to an aging population and the prevalence of heart disease (www.bls.gov). According to Salary.com, the median salary for an echocardiographic technician was $69,612 in 2016.
While professional certification is not mandatory, most employers hire only echocardiographers who hold professional credentials. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) and Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) both have credentialing programs. ARDMS offers the Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) credential in three areas - adult, pediatric and fetal echocardiography. CCI offers the Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonographer (RCCS) and Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS) credential.
Students who are interested in a career in being a cardiac sonography should go for echocardiography training programs that combine classroom instruction with hand-on experience. Although certification is not required, it is highly recommended to have those professional standards.