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Cardiovascular Sonography: The Heart of Ultrasonic Imaging

Whether called a cardiovascular sonographer, echocardiographer, or cardiac ultrasound technologist, a medical professional by any of these names is a sonographer that specializes in the heart and vascular system.

Most cardiovascular sonographers work in hospitals. Others work in the offices of cardiologists or other physicians, or in diagnostic imaging centers and laboratories. The work environment of a cardiac ultrasound technologist is good for active individuals who prefer to stand and walk throughout their workday rather than sit at a desk. Those with a calm and collected demeanor will be well equipped for interacting with patients. Specific roles of cardiovascular sonographers may vary depending on their particular area of practice.

Areas within Cardiovascular Sonography

Invasive Cardiovascular Technology: Cardiovascular technologists in this area may assist physicians with intravascular ultrasound. Intravascular ultrasounds involve special catheters with miniature ultrasound probes. They are used to see inside blood vessels, oftentimes to determine plaque buildup and assess heart attack risk. The technologists may prepare patients for catheterization and monitor vitals during the procedure.

Noninvasive Cardiovascular Technology: A cardiovascular sonographer in this area specializes in noninvasive ultrasound imaging from outside the body. Noninvasive technicians may specialize in either echocardiography or vascular sonography.

Echocardiography: Part of noninvasive cardiovascular technology, echocardiographers create echocardiograms, ultrasound images of the heart chambers, valves, and vessels. They may also administer medication during tests to better assess heart function, or assist on other procedures.

Vascular technology: These cardiovascular sonographers assist in the diagnosing of vascular disorders or issues. Noninvasive ultrasound imaging is used to inspect arteries and veins, as well as assess blood flow.

Cardiovascular Sonography Career Opportunities

Employment for cardiovascular sonographers is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations.* Advances in ultrasound technology are making ultrasound imaging preferable to more expensive or invasive procedures.

Career opportunities as a cardiovascular sonographer typically require successful completion of a degree program, and many employers prefer those who also have professional certifications. The high demand for cardiac ultrasound technologists has led to the availability of many one- and two-year programs. Areas of study in such programs may include:

  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Sonography
  • Vascular technology
  • Echocardiography

The growing demand for cardiovascular sonographers makes this health profession a great option for those wanting to pursue career opportunities that aren’t behind a desk. Learn more by finding a cardiovascular sonography program near you.

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, on the Internet at (visited April 20, 2011). This is a national estimate and conditions in your locations may vary.