An echo technologist may also be called an echocardiographer, an echocardiography technologist or simply an echo tech. People who become an echo technologist are trained professions who evaluate the heart using techniques similar to those used in sonograms, with various refinements and differences. Echo techs may work with adults, kids, or with pregnant women to perform fetal echoes, and much of their work involves direct contact with patients in a variety of settings.
There are various ways to train to become an echo technologist. At minimum, people in this field have an associate degree in cardiovascular technology. Many people in this field complete a four-year program at a college and hold a bachelor’s degree. This may increase likelihood of getting hired and usually raises rate of pay. In addition to this, many states and countries will require licensing or at least eligibility for licensing. In the US, people can obtain credentialing or certification in two locations. One of these is the American Registry of Diagnostic Sonographers, which has credentialing tests specific to echocardiography.
Another common place that people achieve echo technologist credentials to become an echo technologist is through Cardiovascular Credentialing International. This recognized organization offers several levels of testing depending upon experience and training, and areas of skill in this field. It’s important to reiterate that echo technologist jobs may not require credentials or certification, but this may change over time, and getting certification is usually the surest path to getting work.
Probably the easiest part for those who wish to become an echo technologist is finding a way to get certification. More difficult may be finding programs that offer training as an echo technologist. Though this is expanding, there are not that many colleges that offer either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in this field. Best places to look include community colleges and medical vocation schools. Another place to look for training is at medical schools, which often are attached to hospitals and have large cardiology programs that may offer significant practical experience.
Those wishing to specialize in certain forms of echocardiography might require additional training. For instance, fetal and pediatric echo technologists may have more experience and training in recognizing structural differences in the fetal heart and the child’s heart. They are also trained to more specifically evaluate anomalies including the many heart defects that may afflict children. The pediatric population can require special patience and care too, because younger kids may have trouble remaining still, and very young children can be upset by an echocardiogram, which can make it more difficult to properly visualize the heart and its structures.
Many who want to become an echo technologist do so because of the varied opportunities for employment. People may work at cardiology offices, at clinics, in private practice, in hospitals, or at radiology centers. This is a growing field with a fairly high compensation for level of training. The average echo tech with a no experience may have a starting salary in the US of about $40-50,000 US Dollars (USD). Amounts can be higher or lower depending upon location, certification and degrees held.