Cardiac Sonography Technologist: Job Description & Career Info

Read on to see what cardiac sonography technologists do. Explore the education and training requirements, and get information about career prospects and alternative career options in the field.

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Career Definition for a Cardiac Sonography Technologist

Cardiac sonography technologists use high-frequency sound waves to form images of the heart and circulatory systems, which are then used to diagnose and assess cardiac difficulties and proper blood flow patterns in patients. General duties include preparing equipment, prepping patients and explaining procedures, reading the images and reporting their findings to a cardiologist. Most sonographers work a 5-day, 40-hour work week in a hospital setting, and are required to stand or walk for the majority of their shift. As the need for cardiac sonography technologists increases throughout America, the potential for choosing ideal living locations is high.

Required Education Associate's degree or bachelor's degree; national licensure voluntary, but some states require a license; certification voluntary but may increase employment opportunities
Job Duties Explaining procedures, reading images, reporting findings to a cardiologist
Median Salary (2015)* $54,880 (cardiovascular technologists and technicians)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 22% growth (cardiovascular technologists and technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Needed

The most common education level for a cardiac sonography technologist is a 2-year associate's degree, but 4-year bachelor's degree programs are becoming increasingly popular, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A national license is not required, but some states do have mandatory licensing. Certifications are also looked on favorably by employers. These exam-based certifications are available through Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) and the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS).

Skills Required

Cardiac sonography technologists must have strong communication skills and a good bedside manner to explain the technical details of a procedure to patients and to make them feel comfortable before, during, and after the exam. Cardiac sonographers must also adhere to strict safety guidelines.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, employment of cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including cardiac sonography technologists, is expected to grow faster than average, with a projected 22% increase between 2014 and 2024. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians earned a median income of $54,880 per year in 2015, according to the BLS. Career advancement is possible with increased specialization in vascular technology or invasive cardiac procedures. With experience, cardiac sonographers can also move into education or management.

Alternate Career Options

If you're looking for an alternative career option, here are some that might interest you:

Radiologic Technologist

Radiologic technologists use special machines, like x-ray machines, to take pictures a patient's anatomy. They get patients ready for the exam, position them carefully, and prevent both the patient and themselves from overexposure to radiation. Most radiologic technologists have an associate's degree and are licensed or certified, depending on the state. Jobs are predicted to increase 9% from 2014-2024, per the BLS. The BLS also reported that the median salary of radiologic technologists was $56,670 in 2015.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

A diagnostic medical sonographer uses diagnostic tools that create sound waves to form a picture of inside a patient's body. They make the patient comfortable, administer the exam, and keep accurate records of exams performed. Education requirements can vary from a certificate to an associate's degree program; professional certification is also usually required, and some states require licensing. The median pay for this job was $68,970 in 2015, per the BLS; the agency also reported that jobs in this field are expected to grow 26% from 2014-2024.

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