Echo Cardiac Sonographer: Career, Outlook and Education Info

Explore the career requirements for echo cardiac sonographers. Get the facts about job duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Cardiovascular Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is an Echo Cardiac Sonographer?

Echo cardiac sonographers, also called echo cardiographers or cardiac sonographers, use ultrasound waves to measure the function of the heart. They usually work in assistance to a physician in order to diagnose heart conditions in a patient. They also assess the prognosis of pre-existing heart or blood vessel diseases.

Learn about career requirements in the table below:

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree; certificates available for current health technicians
Education Field of Study Diagnostic medical sonography or cardiovascular technology
Licensure Required Licensure required in Oregon; certification preferred by employers
Job Growth (2014-2024) 22% for all cardiovascular technologists and technicians*
Median Salary (2015) $54,880 for all cardiovascular technologists and technicians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Does an Echo Cardiac Sonographer Do?

As a cardiac sonographer, you will operate the machine responsible for producing ultrasound waves used to examine the heart. Throughout this process, the sonographer works with the patient and interprets the reflected Doppler signals and echoes, creating the echocardiogram used by the patient's physician to come up with the appropriate diagnosis and plan for healing.

What Are the Education Requirements?

To work as a cardiac sonographer, you must have at least an associate's degree in echocardiography or cardiovascular technology. You can expect to receive training particular to cardiac sonography in the second year of the program. Bachelor degree programs are also available. Coursework can include instruction in anatomy, human physiology and genetics, as well as echo procedures, ultrasounds physics, congenital abnormalities, echocardiogram waveforms and other topics. You may also have the chance to participate in an internship.

You can become certified as a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. While not required in all states, gaining certification can provide you a leg up over non-certified professionals also looking for employment.

What Is the Employment Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including cardiac sonographers, will grow by 22% during the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). The major reasons for employment growth are centered on the prevalence of heart disease and a growing elderly populace. In addition, noninvasive cardiovascular diagnosing techniques like echo cardiography are becoming preferential to using invasive surgery.

As technology advances in cardiovascular health, so too will related jobs, says the BLS. The majority of technicians in the field work in the cardiology departments of hospitals. Other job settings include doctor's offices, clinics and diagnostic laboratories.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Radiation therapy requires an associate's degree, just as cardiac sonography, and deals with treating cancer by using linear accelerators. Also, becoming a medical and clinical laboratory technician requires the same level of education and deals primarily with analyzing and studying samples of body fluids or tissue to detect any illnesses or to give check ups.

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