Echocardiographer: Job Description & Career Info

An echocardiographer - also known as an echo tech or cardiovascular technician - utilizes a noninvasive diagnostic test called an echocardiogram, which is a sonogram that anatomically evaluates a heart. Read further to learn about the training, skills, salary and employment outlook, to see if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for Echocardiographers

The bulk of the echocardiographer's job concerns the transthoracic echocardiogram procedure, in which he or she uses a transducer to send sound waves through the patient's chest area to the heart. The waves' echoes are then sent to the echocardiogram and converted into multidimensional cardiac data in the form of video images. In transesophageal echocardiography (where a probe inserted into the patient's esophagus by a doctor), the echocardiographer's duties are mostly limited to prep work and controlling the ultrasonography machine, according to the American Society of Echocardiography's 2001 cardiac sonographer education guidelines.

Education High school diploma or GED; associate's degree, bachelor's degree, and certificate are available; licensure is recommended; continuing education is required
Job Skills Detail oriented thinking, interpersonal skills, physical fitness, technological aptitude
Median Salary (2015)* $54,880 (for cardiovascular technologists and technicians)
Career Outlook (2014-2024)* 22% (for cardiovascular technologists and technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

The echocardiographer's minimum requirements are a high school diploma or the equivalent. Associate's, bachelor's and certificate programs are also available for echocardiographers, which include coursework in invasive and noninvasive cardiovascular technology procedures. A license isn't required in all states, though one is highly recommended. There are continuing medical education requirements once an echocardiography technician gets a job.

Required Skills

In addition to being technologically-savvy, echocardiographers should possess good interpersonal skills, since the job involves plenty of interaction with patients. Echocardiographers should also be detail oriented and have good physical stamina.

Career and Economic Outlook

Cardiovascular technologists and technicians had a median annual salary of $54,880, as determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in a 2015 survey. A much faster than average employment growth of 22% was predicted by the BLS from 2014-2024. Since the American Society of Echocardiography website asserts that regulation in the field will happen, echo tech should get ahead by registering with or being certified by the Cardiovascular Credentialing International or the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography.

Alternate Career Options

Related careers include:

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Normally earning at least an associate's degree or postgraduate certificate in sonography, these professionals perform ultrasound testing on organs and tissues, often specializing in abdominal, breast, musculoskeletal or gynecologic sonography. The BLS projected much faster than average job growth of 26% growth, during the 2014-2024 decade, for this profession that paid an annual median wage of $68,970 in 2015.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

These techs normally have an associate's or bachelor's degree in their field; some states require licensing. Their work involves administering radioactive drugs to patients and using a scanner to create bodily images used in doctors' diagnoses. A slower than average increase in positions of 2%, from 2014-2024, was anticipated by the BLS. Nuclear medicine techs earned an annual median salary of $73,360, according to the BLS in 2015.

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