Career Definition for Echo Cardiac Assistants
The echo cardiac assistant's primary duty is to use an echocardiogram, analyzing its data for possible pathologies in the heart or its blood vessels, then present the cardiac echo's data to the physician. Heartsite.com says that an echocardiogram can illuminate problems with a heart's chambers (such as abnormal size or thickness), blood pumping capability, valve quality, or blood volume. The website adds that the test can reveal maladies such as heart valve infection, congenital defects, tumors, clots, cardiomyopathy, and pericarditis.
|Education||High school diploma or GED with certification; continuing education is necessary|
|Job Skills||Mechanical aptitude, communication skills, customer service, teamwork, certified CPR ability|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$55,270|
|Career Outlook (2016-2026)*||10%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
An aspiring echo cardiac assistant must have a high school diploma or GED; beyond that, however, not all states mandate licenses or certificates, though employers assume certification. (All accredited schools, from trade schools to four-year universities, can be found at caahep.org, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals website). The Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories states that a cardiology technologist must, over three years, accrue 15 hours of continuing education pertaining to echocardiography; for specifics, see icael.org. Common job titles for an echo cardiac assistant are echocardiographer, cardiac sonographer, cardiac ultrasound technologist (or technician), or echo tech.
As medical professionals, an echo cardiac assistant should possess communication and people skills, must follow directions well and needs to be certified in CPR. Because so much of the job concerns the echocardiogram, it would help to be mechanically or electronically inclined.
Career and Earning Outlook
Jobs in cardiovascular technology are predicted to grow by 10% from 2016-2026, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a much faster rate than is predicted for most industries. The BLS reported the median annual salary among all cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including echo cardiac assistants, as $55,270 for May 2017.
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An associate degree in radiography is how most enter the profession, and licensing or certification by examination is required in some states. The BLS projected 12% growth for radiologic technologists between 2016 and 2026, and more positions are beginning to open up in non-hospital locations, such as doctor's offices and imaging clinics. As reported by the BLS in May 2017, radiologic technologists received $58,440 in median yearly wages.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
If performing imaging procedures using computerized ultrasound machines sounds interesting, becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer could be a good career decision. Sonographers capture images and video by sliding a special wand across the surface of the skin and bouncing waves off of internal structures. When abnormalities are spotted, they focus their attention on these areas, gathering data for physician review. Most medical sonographers focus on an area of specialty such as abdominal, breast or fetal imaging.
Working in this field generally requires an associate degree in sonography, but people in other healthcare professions such as nursing or radiology can complete a certificate program instead. Many employers and some insurance companies may also require medical sonographers to hold professional certification.
Based on BLS data, job opportunities for diagnostic medical sonographers are expected to increase by 23% from 2016-2026, resulting in the creation of 15,600 new positions. In 2017, sonographers earned a median annual income of $71,410, as stated by the BLS.