The health care industry is currently one of the fastest growing career fields in the Unites States. Job opportunities are available for those who have the specialized training and knowledge needed to operate the many diagnostic and imaging machines that have become common. These advances in medical technology, combined with an increased need for healthcare services as the U.S. population ages, are driving demand for these specially trained technicians to previously unheard of levels. One specialized health care job that you can start after earning a two-year degree is echocardiography technician.
What is an Echocardiography Technician?
An echocardiography technician is a person trained to operate the Doppler ultrasound machines used to create images of a patient's heart for diagnostic purposes. These machines use high frequency sound waves to create images of the heart's chambers, valves and blood vessels. The tests are non-invasive as there is no need to insert probes or any other instruments inside the patient. The resulting images are read by Cardiologists or other physicians as part of the diagnostic procedure. Echocardiography technicians are also referred to as echocardiographers or cardiac sonographers. This career is a part of the broader category of cardiovascular technologist.
Most echocardiography technicians work for hospitals. The majority of positions are full-time and during the day. Echocardiography technicians are also employed by private physicians, clinics or diagnostic imaging centers. Some employers may require afternoon or evening shifts or on-call emergency coverage. While the majority of echocardiography jobs are full-time, some part-time positions are available. The work does require the ability to position or move patients as needed to obtain the best images. Some patient lifting may be required.
Echocardiography Technician Training: Degrees and Coursework
Echocardiography technician education typically requires a two-year degree in cardiovascular technology. There are also four-year degree programs available. Echocardiography technician education typically includes the core coursework required for a two-year or four-year degree as well as courses in:
- Medical terminology
Education also includes hands-on training with the technology and equipment used on the job.
Because most employers require professional certification, students should attend one of the many accredited echocardiography schools. After graduating from an accredited school, you can take the exam to receive certification. The Cardiovascular Credentialing International credentials echocardiography technicians. Additional on the job training is usually required and, once certified, echocardiography technicians are required to keep up with continuing education requirements to maintain certification. In some cases employers may offer tuition assistance or reimbursement for continuing education requirements.
Echocardiography Technician Career Outlook
The prospects for echocardiography technician employment are better than in most other fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 24 percent increase in employment of cardiovascular technologists and technicians from 2008 to 2018. This increase is much faster than average for all occupations. Much of the increased demand is due to a higher occurrence of heart disease and other heart related problems as the U.S. population ages. The increased use of non-invasive procedures, such as echocardiography, will also help increase the need for qualified echocardiography technicians.
Echocardiography Technician Wages
According to the BLS, the mean hourly wage for a cardiovascular technologist is $23.91 with a mean annual wage of $49,730. This is not adjusted for length of employment, so newer graduates should not expect to make that much when first hired and longer-term employees may make more. Echocardiography technicians who acquire training and certifications in other specialties are more valuable to their employers and can also expect a higher salary.
Resources for Echocardiography Technicians