Echocardiography Training Programs and Requirements

Echocardiographers, also called cardiac sonographers, use sound waves to create images of the heart. An echocardiography training program teaches students with health care training or experience how to perform these procedures.

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Echocardiography Training Programs

Echocardiography training programs are 1- to 2-year programs offered by colleges and universities that allow students to learn about and perform ultrasound imagining of the heart. Students may also learn to assist physicians in performing other cardiac procedures. Students study the principles of echocardiography, as well as the physics behind it. They receive hands-on practice during clinical training.

Educational Prerequisites

An associate degree or a degree from a 2-year allied health school may be required for admission to an echocardiography training program. Some schools require that students have completed courses in medical terminology, anatomy and physics. Experience working in a health care setting is required by some schools and considered beneficial for admission by others.

Course Topics

Students learn how to operate the sonogram equipment and about the different types of echocardiograms, such as transthoractic and transesophageal. A program's goal is to train a specialist who can supervise an echocardiography lab. Studies may include:

  • Echocardiography principles
  • Anatomy of the cardiovascular system
  • Physics of ultrasound
  • Stress echocardiography
  • Echocardiography for critically ill patients
  • Medical ethics

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for all types of cardiovascular technologists and technicians is expected to increase by 24% from 2008-2018 due to an aging population and the prevalence of heart disease (www.bls.gov). According to Salary.com, the median salary for an echocardiographic technician was $61,920 in March 2012.

Professional Certification

While professional certification is not mandatory, most employers hire only echocardiographers who hold professional credentials. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) and Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) both have credentialing programs. ARDMS offers the Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) credential in three areas - adult, pediatric and fetal echocardiography. CCI offers the Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonographer (RCCS) and Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS) credential.

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