At the associate's degree level, a high school diploma or GED and acceptable grade point averages are required for admission. Bachelor's degree program applicants should also have a high school diploma and, ideally, a math and science background. Coursework focuses more on patient and laboratory management. Completion of a senior project or externship could be required. Other requirements can often include a practicum or practical experience.
Associate of Applied Science Degree in Cardiac Ultrasound Technology
The cardiac ultrasound technology program teaches students how to perform a number of diagnostic procedures wherein they use specific equipment to review and record reflected echoes and images of the cardiovascular system. Technologists must learn to operate equipment and understand the workings of the human heart.
Students who have no college experience must complete a specific number of general education courses before entering the program. Students might be asked to complete forms stating that they are in good health and able to complete the program's physical requirements. Some schools also require students to submit to a drug test and police background check.
The final year of this program is usually reserved for technological training and clinical instruction. Beginning courses in anatomy, computers, medical terminology and the basics of ultrasound and echocardiography technology are followed by advanced courses such as:
- Concepts of patient care
- EKG analysis and interpretation
- Cardiac pathology
- Echo-vascular studies
Associate of Applied Science in Medical Sonography
The medical sonography program teaches students to operate equipment which performs ultrasound examinations for many specialties, including cardiac care.
Some schools may expect applicants to have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0. Students with no college experience must complete a specific number of general education courses before entering the program.
Clinical trials for specialties complete the coursework for this program. Courses such as acoustic physics, cross-sectional anatomy and specific ultrasound studies are followed by advanced courses such as:
- Neonatal brain structures
- Vascular sonography
- Medical law/ethics
- Pathophysiology for ultrasound
- Vascular scanning
Bachelor of Science Degree in Echocardiography
This program is ideal for either incoming freshmen or transfer students who have already earned an associate's degree. Students are taught the technical aspects of echocardiography. They might also develop an understanding of the work environment and patient care aspects of the profession.
Some schools also expect a certain amount of credits in math, science and a foreign language. SAT scores will also be examined critically.
Courses in medical imaging, vascular principles, patient management and pathophysiology are followed by courses in topics such as those listed below:
- Transesophageal echocardiography
- Clinical pharmacology
- Lab management
- Pediatric cardiography
Earning an A.A.S. degree might lead to immediate employment, but it can also be used in conjunction with experience to qualify to pursue a baccalaureate degree.
Employment Prospects and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (www.bls.gov), cardiovascular technologists and technicians are expected to have 22% job growth for the years 2014 through 2024. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians made median annual wages of $54,880 in 2015.
Cardiac echo degrees are offered to students in the form of both associate's and bachelor's level programs. Whilst learning specialist skills in EKG analysis and interpretation and clinical pharmacology, students will be prepared for a career as a cardiovascular technologist.