11 Things to Know Before Becoming a Cardiac Sonographer
Becoming a diagnostic cardiac sonographer (also known as an echocardiographer) might be one of the best professional and personal decisions you’ll ever make for yourself. As a rewarding and exciting allied health career, you’ll help save the lives of patients while working in a constantly evolving field.
Like any career, there’s a lot to know about this growing field. We’ve included the top 11 things you need to know about cardiac sonographer schooling, salaries, job outlook, and more. If you’ve ever wondered how to become a cardiac sonographer, keep reading!
1. You’ll Help Save Lives Every Single Day
Every diagnostic sonographer is a first line of defense against determining abnormalities in the human body. Cardiovascular sonographers, however, use cutting edge ultrasound technology to create images of the human heart. Physicians then use these images to detect defects, medical conditions, and diseases.
This means that a cardiac sonographer has to be on top of their game, and there’s little-to-no room for error. The images and information that are passed on to doctors (and the rest of the medical team) have to be as accurate as possible.
2. There’s More Than Meets the Eye
Anyone entering this allied health field understands that a cardiac sonographer’s responsibilities don’t end when they take ultrasounds of a patient’s heart. A large part of a cardiac sonographer’s job might revolve around ultrasound technology, but they’re also relied upon to position patients, go over routine procedures, and communicate between team members.
3. You Must Be a Team Player
Being a cardiac sonographer isn’t done in isolation. You’re an allied health professional who works directly with (and reports to) physicians, nurses, and even surgical team members. It’s crucial that you take orders and provide the best quality images possible – it might even save lives!
4. You Have to Be a People Person
No matter the field, diagnostic medical sonographers need to be personable since they’re always closely interacting with patients. While mastering your medical knowledge of cardiac conditions is vital, you’ll also need to be a clear communicator.
Cardiac sonographers must clearly explain how cardiac ultrasounds work. Since patients are constantly worried about bad news, they’ll be nervous, scared, and even confused. One of the most important parts of your job is to calm patients down and reassure them that they’re in capable hands.
5. Ongoing Learning Is Part of the Job
Cardiac sonographer training doesn’t end with a cardiac sonography degree or certificate. Stay ahead of industry trends by reading articles and receiving additional training. The field of cardiac and medical sonography is continuously in flux, largely due to technological innovations like 3D and 4D ultrasounds.
Even the most experienced cardiac sonographers (with decades of work experience) attend professional conferences and workshops to ensure that their hospital is utilizing the field’s newest equipment and methods.
6. Like Most Jobs, There’s Some Bureaucracy
Cardiac sonographers have to stay on top of their duties while answering to higher-ups (such as supervisors and cardiologists) and will need to document exactly what was done during a sonography session (like the type of images taken or what was revealed).
If you’re short-handed at the hospital or clinic, you might be asked to help make appointments for further exams, obtain consent forms from patients, and fill out safety reports. Sonographers at smaller clinics may even be expected to handle these tasks regularly.
7. Don’t Expect Regular Pats on the Back
Because they work behind the scenes, cardiac sonographers are some of the “unsung” heroes of the allied healthcare team. Being a medical sonographer is often a thankless job, and anyone looking to enter this field shouldn’t expect to receive regular praise or recognition – it’s your job to put your best work forward each and every day!
While you won’t be making a diagnosis, you’re still an integral part of a medical team. This itself is rewarding enough.
8. Where Do Cardiac Sonographers Work? Almost Anywhere!
After completing your cardiac sonographer education, you’ll discover that you can apply to a seemingly endless number of locations. Even entry-level cardiac sonographers can choose to work in cardiologist offices, imaging centers, mobile imaging companies, and hospitals. Much of this comes down to a growing demand for trained cardiac sonographers.
9. You May Be Able to Choose Your Working Hours
A significant upside about this allied health career is basing your applications on the shifts and days you prefer to work. If you’re raising a family and desire a more traditional 9-5 workday, an outpatient clinic might provide more regular first-shift hours. If you function better during second or third shifts, hospitals need a cardiac ultrasound tech on staff at all times. Some locations may expect you to come in during the weekends, at nights, or even on holidays.
10. Cardiac Sonographers Salaries Are Substantial
Though 4-year degrees are possible, most of these health professionals complete 2-year medical programs. This quick and affordable certification pays off well, seeing as how experienced cardiac sonographers earned an average annual salary of nearly $57,000 in 2018.
In cardiac sonography training programs, students receive classroom instruction in medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, and physics). Since developing psychomotor skills is crucial to this field, students will also be given instruction on using equipment properly (meaning that they’ll be able to produce the clearest and most comprehensive images of the heart).
11. Cardiac Sonographers Have a Great Job Outlook
After completing your cardiac sonography education, you’ll discover great opportunities around the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this allied health sector will grow by 7% between 2018 and 2028. The demand for cardiac sonographers will only continue to grow, since non-invasive ultrasounds are safer and more cost-effective for patients.
Discover How to Become a Cardiac Sonographer Today
Joining this exciting allied health career provides excellent salaries, job security, and a sense of personal achievement. If you’re in the New Jersey area and interested in starting your cardiac sonographer education, contact an AIMS Education to get the ball rolling!