Echo Technology Schools
Echocardiographers work with sound-based imaging technology to gather data that helps doctors diagnose heart disease. Learn about degree programs and coursework, and get tips on choosing a school.
If you are interested in becoming an echo technician, you have a handful of educational options in the field. Make sure you understand what they include, where they are offered, and how they will help you enter the field through the information in this article.
What Is the Field of Echo Technology?
Echo technicians, also called cardiac sonographers or echocardiographers, use ultrasound technology to acquire non-invasive anatomical and blood flow data from a patient's heart for diagnostic purposes. Besides imaging for indications of heart and vascular disease, the technology can also be used to assist biopsies. Echo technicians must be able to provide appropriate health care to patients during the imaging procedure, keep thorough records and discuss their findings with doctors.
What Does It Take to Work in This Field?
Those with prior military or hospital training may become echo technicians, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that most employers prefer those who have graduated from an accredited program that provides both didactic and clinical training (www.bls.gov).
The BLS also says that employers prefer you be registered or certified. Credentials can be obtained from numerous certifying organizations, including the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist, American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography and Cardiovascular Credentialing International.
Only a few states require licensure, but many more anticipate following their lead. Certification will prepare you for this licensure process, if needed.
How Do I Decide on a School?
The field of echo technology can be approached through two related ultrasound-imaging disciplines. This includes diagnostic medical sonography, which is more general in nature, or cardiovascular technology, which is more heart and blood vessel oriented.
Program options include a 2-year associate's degree, a 4-year bachelor's degree and a 1-year certificate program. Most programs require some prerequisite classes. Certificate programs are only available to those with a required amount of education or clinical experience in the health care field.
It is highly recommended that you find a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs with a balance of clinical and didactic training. Some schools misrepresent the amount of clinical training you will receive in their program, so always research them fully before you decide.
Which Schools Offer Certificate Programs in Diagnostic Medical Sonography?
There are plenty of colleges which give students an opportunity to enroll in a diagnostic medical sonography certificate program, such as the ones listed here:
- Rochester Institute of Technology hosts an Echocardiography (Cardiac Ultrasound) Certificate program
- University of Colorado provides a Diagnostic Medical Sonography Certificate program
- Houston Community Colleges has a Diagnostic Medical Sonography Advanced Technical Certificate program
Which Schools Offer Associate Degree Programs in Diagnostic Medical Sonography?
At the associate level, students have many choices of colleges when looking for diagnostic medical sonography degree programs, The following are a few of them:
- Tidewater Community College delivers an Associate of Applied Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (Ultrasound) degree program
- Lone Star College houses an Associate of Applied Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography degree program
- The College of Health Care Professions offers an Associate of Applied Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography degree program
Which Schools Offer Bachelor Degree Programs in Diagnostic Medical Sonography?
You can find numerous schools which allow students to earn a bachelor's degree in diagnostic medical sonography. Check out some of the programs below:
- Newman University has a Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography degree program
- Quinnipiac University provides a Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography degree program
- Nova Southeastern University hosts a Bachelor of Science in Medical Sonography degree program
What Will I Find at Most Programs?
Associate's degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography either require general prerequisite classes or include them as part of the program. General and specialty sonography core classes such as sonologic physics, sonologic application, abdominal sonography, vascular sonography and echocardiography are combined with clinical experience.
Associate's degree programs in cardiovascular technology are similar to those of diagnostic medical sonography, but offer more specialty cardiovascular class topics such as physics of cardiac ultrasound, advanced cardiovascular skills, advanced cardiac abnormalities and advanced echocardiograph. Clinical experience is also focused on the cardiovascular system.
Bachelor's degree programs are not common and require more general college requirements than an associate's degree before ultrasound technology classes and clinical experience are offered. General classes may be available online through some programs, but hands-on training with knowledgeable professionals is needed to pursue a career in echo technology.
Students pursuing echo technology can choose from certificate, associate degree and bachelor degree programs, which are commonly available at a range of schools. Accredited programs will prepare you for certification, registration, or licensing, depending on which is required by your employer or state.