Teaming up with heart doctors, echocardiographers use ultrasounds to examine a patient's heart and it's electrical activity. They can be responsible for patient consultations, maintaining the machines under their control, and maintaining patient records.
Echocardiographers are cardiovascular technologists who specialize in examining hearts through the use of ultrasound. By creating echocardiograms with ultrasound instruments, these specialists help doctors identify heart problems in patients. To become an echocardiographer, an individual must complete a 2- or 4-year degree in echocardiography and may also need to obtain licensure and/or credentials.
|Required Education||Associate's or bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||On-the-job training|
|Licensure and Credentialing||License needed in some states; professional credentialing required by most employers|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||26% for all cardiovascular technologists and technicians|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$54,880 for all cardiovascular technologists and technicians|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Echocardiographer Education Requirements
Education for echocardiographers usually comes in the form of a 2-year associate's degree program at a community college. However, 4-year bachelor's degree programs are becoming more widely available. Students complete an echocardiography technology or cardiovascular technology program. These programs should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (www.caahep.org). Additionally, employers typically offer on-the-job training to echocardiographers to ensure they are properly prepared for this position.
Echocardiographer coursework is a mixture of classroom lectures and discussion with hands-on laboratory work. The curriculum heavily emphasizes science courses, including biology, physiology, chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry, physics and anatomy. Medical and health classes - including histology, immunology and medical terminology - are taken to give echocardiography students a thorough understanding of the human body and heart.
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Working alongside heart doctors, echocardiographers are cardiovascular technicians that take ultrasound images of a patient's heart to assist with a diagnosis. They are also commonly known as cardiac sonographers. Echocardiograms are taken while the patient is either resting or exercising to see how the heart performs in these situations. The electrical activity of a heart can be examined by echocardiographers through the use of an echocardiography (EKG) machine and electrodes.
Echocardiographers meet with patients to answer questions about the procedure and schedule appointments. Prior to procedures, they may issue medications to patients to assist with taking the echocardiograms. During procedures, they move patients into position, operate echocardiography equipment and evaluate the resulting data. Additionally, echocardiographers are often responsible for maintaining equipment, supplies and patient records.
Credentialing and Licensure
Licensure requirements vary from state to state, so echocardiographers should check with their employers and the state board to determine if a license is required. However, most employers require echocardiographers to obtain credentials. Cardiovascular Credentialing International offers credentialing exams in cardiovascular technology (www.cci-online.org). Credentialing examinations in fetal, pediatric and adult echocardiography are available through The American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (www.ardms.org). Echocardiographers must fulfill continuing education requirements in order to maintain their credentials.
Two-year associate's degrees or 4-year bachelor's degrees provide the education necessary to become an electrocardiographer. These programs provide these members of the heart-health team with a blend of health and medical classes including biochemistry, anatomy, and physiology, through a mixture of classroom and hands-on experience. Electrocardiographers may also need licensure, depending upon their state, and will most likely need to become certified in order to find employment.