What Does an Echo Tech Do?

Echo techs are sometimes referred to as echocardiographers or cardiac sonographers. Your primary responsibility as an echo tech is to gather data that can be used by a physician to diagnose heart disease. Read on to learn more about the job responsibilities of an echo tech and the training you need to become one. Schools offering Cardiovascular Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Responsibilities

An echo tech is a cardiovascular technologist who specializes in using non-invasive imaging technology to analyze a patient's heart, specifically the function of its veins, arteries, chambers, and valves. As an echo tech, your main responsibility would be to calibrate and use medical diagnostic imaging machines to take images of a patient's heart. You may need to position a patient for imaging while they are lying down or monitor their heart as they are walking on a treadmill. Because you work with many different kinds of patients, you need to have excellent communication skills.

Other job duties you may need to perform include speaking to patients about the procedure, taking several images of the hearts, and administering medications to patients in order to study their heart's reaction to pharmacological stress.

Important Facts About Echo Techs

Professional Certification Required for licensure; available by exam through a registry organization
Key Skills Attention to detail, hand-eye coordination, physical endurance, technically ability, interpersonal and observational skills, clear judgment and decision-making ability
Work Environment Hospitals, physicians offices, medical and diagnostic laboratories
Similar Occupations Nuclear medicine technologists, radiologic and MRI technologists, medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians

Training Requirements

In order to work as an echo tech, you must first earn a high school diploma or pass the General Educational Development (GED) examination. Many employers also prefer to hire candidates with an associate's degree or higher in a related discipline, such as cardiovascular technology. Most of these degree programs include an option for specialization in non-invasive cardiovascular technology. It is also a standard requirement for many employers that you are certified to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Program Coursework

A degree program in cardiovascular technology gives you the professional skills and experience necessary to work in the field. You learn to operate different types of imaging machines and interpret the data, such as images produced with 2-Dimesional Doppler and ultrasound as well as both M-Mode and A-Mode echocardiograms. Most degrees include a clinical practicum where you learn how to calibrate and operate diagnostic imaging in an active health care facility. A two-year Associate of Applied Science in Cardiovascular Technology also typically includes core coursework that touches on the following topics:

  • Medical ethics
  • Anatomy
  • Cardiovascular physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Biology

Salary Info and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) indicated that the employment of cardiovascular technologists and technicians is projected to increase by about 30% between 2012 and 2022. The BLS also reports that cardiovascular technologists and technicians - a category that includes echocardiographers - earned a median salary of $54,330 as of 2014.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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