The medical industry is booming and it needs you; so if you're fascinated by the heart, love using technology and have a keen interest in helping physicians diagnose illnesses then echo cardiac sonography might be the career for you.
Individuals training to become an echo cardiac sonographer usually complete a 2-year degree prior to working as a sonographer, although certificate programs are also available. Certification is not mandatory by law, but is often preferred by employers.
|Required Education||Associate's degree in cardiovascular and vascular technology or sonography; certificate programs are also available|
|Other Requirements||Voluntary certification available through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Credentialing International|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)||7% for cardiovascular technologists and technicians*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$56,850 for cardiovascular technologists and technicians*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Echo Cardiac Sonographer Career Profile
Echo cardiac sonographers, also known as echocardiographers or echo sonographers, use ultrasound technology to examine the heart's chambers, valves and vessels. They create images, known as echocardiograms, which are assessed by physicians for abnormalities. Sometimes sonographers administer medication to patients as part of the testing process and assist physicians with other procedures. Echo cardiac sonographers are needed in hospitals, diagnostic clinics and many other clinical settings.
Career and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that cardiovascular technologists and technicians, which is a category that includes echo cardiac sonographers, will see employment growth of 7% between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). Due to the aging population and the high occurrence of heart disease, the growth rate for this position is expected to be faster than the average rate for other occupations. The BLS reported in May 2018 that cardiovascular technologists and technicians earned $56,850 as a median annual wage.
Required Education for a Career in Echo Cardiac Sonography
Although some schools may offer certificate programs, aspiring echo cardiac sonographers generally complete an associate's degree program, as well as on-the-job training. Interested individuals can find these programs at many community colleges and technical schools. Students complete a curriculum of lectures, laboratory studies, clinical training and internships.
They spend time in the lab learning to develop scans and complete studies and reports. Classes in this degree program may include ECG interpretation, advanced echo procedures, stress echoes, medical terminology, cardiovascular concepts, Doppler physics and cardiac anatomy.
Although certification is not required by law, it's preferred by most employers as a testament of the employee's knowledge and skill in the field. Echo cardiac sonographers can obtain Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) certification through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers or earn the Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS) credential through the Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Both organizations require individuals to pass a test to earn the credentials. Individuals must also take continuing education courses to maintain certification.
Those interested in the field of echo cardiac sonography minimally need an associate's degree, though many employers prefer candidates with certification as well. Over the next several years, the employment opportunities in this field is expected to grow rapidly.