Echocardiographer Career Information

An echocardiographer uses medical sonography to define problems with the cardiovascular system in patients.

Basic Tasks

An echocardiographer uses a non-invasive diagnostic tool, in this case an ultrasound that doesn't break the patient's skin, to compile data about the cardiovascular system. For example, when working with an adult, the ultrasound could detect blockages in arteries, or, when working in pediatrics or neonatal echocardiography, the technician could be using the device to look for congenital defects of the heart. An ultrasound is also considered a harmless technology, which in addition to not breaking the skin, also means that the patient should suffer no after effects from the use of ultrasound.

During the day, echocardiographers perform echocardiograms on a wide range of patients and assist with setting up performing stress tests, such as exercise stress tests. Echocardiographers will need to manipulate equipment and assist in moving patients into the appropriate positions to conduct accurate testing. They will also have to explain to patients the nature of the test and what to expect while the test is occurring and help the patient perform any tasks or move in any way that will benefit or effect the testing process.

Echocadriographers work under the supervision of a physician and they will also interact with other healthcare professionals and patients, which means that they need good interpersonal skills and the ability to take direction. An echocardiographer may also be asked to perform EKGs and Holter Monitor scanning, tasks that are usually performed by EKG technicians. Echocardiographers will also have to enter the data from tests into databases, such as the MUSE cardiology management system, for physicians to examine, so in addition to moderate mechanical skills and an ability to deal with technology, the echocardiographer will have to have some computer literacy skills.

In a hospital setting, echocardiographers work full time and are usually on call, which means that your shifts can vary or you could be called in to work on short notice. There are also opportunities in diagnostic and medical facilities, which usually keep daytime business hours, as well as work in outpatient clinics and physician offices.

Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for cardiovascular technologists and technicians is $22/hour. Technicians and technologists working at diagnostic and medical clinics make the highest average hourly wage at approximately $27/hour. The top three paying states in this field are New Jersey, Washington and Massachusetts.

Opportunities

Echocardiography jobs include working in cardiology wards, working with patients in pediatrics and in neonatal cardiography. These job opportunities depend on your experience and credentials. For example, the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography offers credentials in fetal, pediatric and adult echocardiography, which would allow the echocardiographer to work with patients of varying ages and health needs.

There is some overlap between echocardiography positions and EKG technician positions, which indicates that a person who is currently an EKG technician could train for a job as an echocardiographer. AN EKG technician makes approximately $26,000 per year, whereas a echocardiographer can make an average of $60,000 per year, a significant salary improvement.

Prospects in this field, like all health care professions, are expected to increase in the next five years and more opportunities are available with additional credentials.