Associate's degree programs in the field of echocardiogram technology are courses of study for students who have no health care experience. To be admitted into these 2-year programs, students should have a high school diploma and may need to have completed prior coursework in physics and algebra.
The certificate program is specific to cardiac testing, with courses in the anatomy of the heart, equipment operation and echocardiography for adults and children. These 1-year programs require that students already have an associate's degree in a health care related field and may also require a minimum of 400 hours of clinical experience.
Associate's Degree in Cardiovascular Sonography
Individuals who have no previous health care experience can earn an associate's degree in diagnostic medical sonography with an emphasis on cardiovascular sonography. Such programs are typically divided into one year of didactic courses that cover theories and practices of sonography, as well as subjects including anatomy and medical terminology. Clinical rotations working within cardiovascular departments of hospitals and health care centers begin in the second year of study. Associate's degree programs in the field include classroom lectures and labs, as well as a cardiovascular clinical practicum. Some examples of course topics include:
- Sonography principles
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Medical ethics and imaging
- Sonographic physics
- Sonographic anatomy
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Echocardiography certificate programs are primarily offered through community colleges. They provide students with the technical education necessary to take diagnostic images of patients' cardiovascular systems using EKG machines. Students enrolled in such a program gain a thorough understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the human heart, as well as EKG scanning techniques. Because echocardiography certificate programs are designed for students who already have some educational background in health care procedures or professional experience, course topics are generally specific to the field of echocardiography. Some examples include:
- Adult echocardiography
- Echocardiography instrumentation
- Anatomy of the heart
- Pathology of the heart
- Pediatric echocardiography
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), cardiovascular technicians and technologists held roughly 52,000 positions in hospitals, physicians' offices, diagnostic laboratories and other settings in 2015. Employment opportunities were expected to grow by 22% from 2014-2024. The BLS also reported that the average annual salary of cardiovascular technicians and technologists was $56,100 as of May 2015.
Certification options are the same for students graduating from certificate programs and associate's degree programs in echocardiography or cardiovascular sonography. While certification is voluntary, it is considered a professional standard, according to the BLS. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) and Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) offer relevant certifications.
Both associate's and certificate programs are available for students interested in the field of echocardiogram technology. These programs will prepare students to enter the workforce and pursue professional certification.