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Diagnostic Medical Sonography Schools : Information and Advice


Types of Diagnostics Medical Sonography Programs and Degrees Available

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, also known as Electrocardiograph Technicians or Cardiovascular Technicians, have several types of degrees available to them.

  • Certificate: A high school diploma is required and it is preferred to have an emphasis in the sciences to obtain a certificate. It is also recommended that a certificate come from an accredited program, which vary on their requirements.
  • Associate's Degree: Most technicians choose to get an Associate's degree in either cardiovascular technology, EKG technician, diagnostic cardiac sonography, or related field. This degree takes two years to complete.
  • Bachelor's Degree: Those looking to start out on top or already have a significant number of hours may choose to take this degree in vascular ultrasound, multi-skilled health technician, ultrasound technician or cardiology technician. It requires a four year degree and many of the basic requirements of any Bachelor's degree in the sciences.

Experience and Requirements to be a diagnostic medical sonographer

Some institutions are willing to train diagnostic medical sonography technicians right on the job. However, most require an associate's degree at minimum and they even may require a certification. Below is a list of the most common accreditation certificates.

  • Certified Cardiographic Technician (CCT): If you work in as a diagnostic medical sonographers, with Holter monitoring, or stress tests, this is the certification for you. The cost is $160, but it is not certified by the American National Standard Institute.
  • Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS): Those who want to work in non-invasive echocardiography will be interested in this exam and certification. The fee for the exam is $200 and anyone wishing to take this test must have passed the Cardiovascular Science Examination.
  • Registered Vascular Specialist (RVS): Technicians who wish to work in the area of vascular technology should look at this exam. It requires passing the cardiovascular science examination, passing the non-invasive vascular registry exam, and costs $200.
  • Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS): This exam is especially for students who want to go into the field of cardiac catheterization. It is also $200 and requires passing the cardiovascular science exam and the invasive registry examination.
  • Registered Cardiac Electrophysiology Specialist (RCES): This test centers around those who wish to work in the area of electrophysiology. The only requirement is the successful completion of the electrophysiology registry examination. Certification costs $350 and the bulk of the exam is on pre-procedural activities.

As of 2009, there are 35 institutes that offer accredited certification by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals. In addition, those who already have a degree or training in a health profession may be required to complete only one year of diagnostic medical sonography courses.

Consider When Choosing an diagnostic medical sonography degree

Know which type of diagnostic medical sonography technician you would like to be before deciding on a degree. There are four areas of specialty.

  1. Noninvasive Technology: Tests normally done on the exterior of a patient are the specialty of these technicians. Equipment used includes an echocardiography, ultrasound, or even Doppler technology.
  2. Invasive Cardiology: These techs specialize in inserting catheters into a patient by various methods. They also assist in angioplasties, electrophysiology tests, and may even assist during surgeries.
  3. Vascular Technology: Technicians who are interested in assessing patients and diagnosing will enjoy this specialty. They often gather information such as medical history, pulse, blood flows, and vascular tests to help a physician make a diagnosis.
  4. Echocardiography: Those who give EKGs, cardio sonograms, stress testing and Holter monitor procedures fall into this category. They work with a variety of tests and treatments, along with doctors and surgeons.

Demand for diagnostic medical sonography career technicians is on the rise. According to the U.S. Department of Labor employment is expected to grow by 26 percent by 2016, which is faster than average. Around 75 percent of these jobs will be located in public or private hospitals. Other areas of employment include the clinics of cardiologists, laboratories, and diagnostic imaging centers.

Schools That Offer diagnostic medical sonography degrees

Due to the numerous labs and hands on experience required for this degree, it is recommended that you find a school in your area. Here are a few of the most recognized schools and programs.

  • Spencerian College : Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S)

    Invasive Cardiovascular Technology

    Located in Kentucky, this degree is certified by the CAAHEP and the Joint Review Committee on Education in Cardiovascular Technology. The degree helps students develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes for the field of Invasive Cardiology. Hands on experiences are used to teach for diverse cardiovascular health needs.

  • Naval School of Health Sciences

    Cardiovascular Technician Program (CVT)

    They have campuses in San Diego, CA and San Antonio, TX. Those looking for a career in the military along with EKG training will enjoy this program. It is 54 weeks long and students who complete their studies are eligible to take the RCIS and CCT exams.

  • Cardiovascular Technology Training, Inc.

    Located in Louisiana, their mission is to train the highest quality practitioners in the field of cardiovascular technology. The two year program is accredited, and you can even get help with tuition or view the student handbook.

Diagnostic Medical Sonography Salary Information

According to salary.com, the average annual salary for an EKG technician is $30,640. Different specialties with different experiences can earn up to $67,410. Pay differs slightly in the favor of those work in physician's offices, but not by much.

Resources for Diagnostic Medical Sonography students

Visit these sites for more information on a diagnostic medical sonography career.

  1. Cardiovascular Credentialing International: They have been certifying cardiovascular technicians since 1968. Visit here to learn more about the different types of certifications, or you can even take the free self assessment exam as a download.
  2. American Society of Echocardiography: Those wishing to get a closer look at their future work or something to impress their teachers with will enjoy this useful site. It has a Cardiovascular Media Library with animations of various ultrasound procedures. You can also get more related resources on the site.
  3. Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs: Click here to get a list of accredited programs in cardiovascular technology. Many states are included such as California, Texas, and Florida.
  4. Joint Review Committee on Education in Cardiovascular Technology: The JRCCVT also reviews and accredits institutions offering training for EKGs. You can get a list of programs, standards and guidelines, or more information on what they do.
  5. Bureau of Labor and Statistics: This government institution put out an online handbook especially for cardiovascular technologists and technicians. It is full of information on training, the nature of the work, job outlook, and more.