Sonographer vs. Cardiovascular Technologist: Schools, Careers

The Diagnostic Medical Sonographer and the Cardiovascular Technologist have a lot in common because they are in the same profession and industry. Both use medical imaging equipment that emits high-frequency sound waves to assess patient soft tissues, organs and blood flow. The primary difference between the two professions is that the technologist dealing with the cardiovascular system has specialized in assessing the heart and artery/vein systems. This articles also includes a list of accredited cardiovascular technologist schools with programs in invasive cardiovascular technology, noninvasive vascular study, cardiac electrophysiology, pediatric echocardiography and adult echocardiography.

Table of Content

What are Duties of the Diagnostic Medical Sonographer?

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers are also called Ultrasound Technicians or Ultrasonographer and usually report to radiologists. The health professionals manage the following duties on any typical day:

  • Manage the workday schedule to ensure patients are allowed adequate time for procedures
  • Review physician orders and available patient information, such as other images or medical tests completed in the past
  • Consult with patients concerning patient history and special medical issues
  • Explain the procedure to patients and address concerns like physical limitations
  • Position patient in procedure room to ensure high quality, error-free results
  • Operate ultrasound equipment, adjusting controls as necessary to obtain ideal images and correct data
  • Evaluate exam results to ascertain required information was obtained and to determine if outcomes indicate additional testing is necessary
  • Record test results and other relevant medical information into electronic health records system or completing required paperwork, or both
  • Calibrate and maintain equipment
  • Consult with radiologist or other medical professionals


What is a Cardiovascular Technologist: Job Description and Duties

A Cardiovascular Technologist, sometimes referred to as a Cardiac Sonographer, uses imaging technology to detect medical issues concerning the heart and vascular system. A person can choose to train for invasive procedures to assist physicians with medical procedures like balloon angioplasties, whereas the Diagnostic Medical Sonographer does only non-invasive procedures. A technologist is different from a technician. The technologist performs a higher level of patient duties because the professional is qualified to do certain invasive procedures. The Cardiovascular Technologist usually reports to a cardiologist.

The Cardiovascular Technologist can either conduct or assist physicians with procedures like cardiac catheterizations, electrocardiograms, lung capacity test, and pulmonary function tests. In some medical settings, the Cardiovascular Technologist may assist physicians in operating rooms when they are inserting pacemakers or stents or doing open heart surgery. The technologist’s primary role as a physician’s assistant during invasive procedures is to monitor critical patient equipment. When performing cardiac or vascular related procedures, the professional may need to use ultrasound equipment to document blood flow or to look for abnormalities.

The typical duties include the following:

  • Consult with patients to collect and document medical history
  • Explain procedures to patients, easing worries and concerns
  • Position patient in the testing room in preparation for procedure
  • Attach electrocardiogram (EKG) electrodes to patient and operate equipment to monitor patient heart rate and rhythm during diagnostic procedure
  • Assist with insertion of catheters during invasive procedures, including preparing area where catheter will be inserted
  • Assist physician during imaging procedure by operating equipment controls to ensure ideal images are obtained
  • Monitor patient during the procedure, watching for signs of discomfort or other issues the physician should be made aware of


Sonographer Salary vs. Cardiovascular Technologist Salary

Per the U.S. Department of Labor, the 2014 mean annual wage for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers was $68,390. This is compared to $55,210 for Cardiovascular Technologists. However, the salary figures may be a bit deceptive at first glance because technologists and technicians are included in the cardiovascular specialty salary figures. There is a greater likelihood of ultrasound specialties earning higher than the average wages. More than 50 percent of ultrasound specialists concentrating on imaging and care of the adult heart earn more than the average salary. Specialization combined with experience can greatly increase earning power.

Educational Requirements: Sonographer vs. Cardiovascular Technologist

Students have several educational program choices if they wish to become a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. People currently working in a health field, or who have past experience in healthcare, could earn a certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography by completing a one-year program. Other options include earning an Associate’s Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography or a Bachelor’s Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Ideally, students will attend CAAHEP accredited schools which are available in every state and consists of classroom and clinical instruction. CAAHEP refers to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.


The Cardiovascular Technologist completes a specialized cardiac sonography program that also includes didactic and clinical instruction. After completing the programs in cardiovascular technologist schools, the graduates are eligible to sit for exams offered by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). There are several exams offered for credentialing as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS), a Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS), and a Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT).

Some states require Cardiovascular Technologists doing invasive procedures to be licensed and will recognize certain credentials for licensing purposes. Another credentialing organization is Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI), which is recognized by prestigious organizations like the American College of Cardiology, the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, and many others. CCI offers certification as a Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist (RCIS), in addition to registration as a Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS) or a Registered Vascular Specialist (RVS).

You can find a local cardiovascular technologist school in the following table.

Cardiovascular Technologist Schools by State

DegreesConcentrationPhoneContact EmailContact Name
AlabamaMobileCardiac and Vascular Institute of Ultrasound
CertificateAdult Echocardiography(251)433-1600[email protected]Melanie Hopper
AlabamaMobileCardiac and Vascular Institute of Ultrasound
CertificateNoninvasive Vascular Study(251)433-1600[email protected]Melanie Hopper
ArizonaPhoenixSanford Brown Institute
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(480)444-1175[email protected]Vicki Smith
CaliforniaEl CajonGrossmont College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(619)644-7302[email protected]Liz Barrow
CaliforniaEl CajonGrossmont College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(619)644-7302[email protected]Liz Barrow
CaliforniaEl CajonGrossmont College
AssociateNoninvasive Vascular Study(619)644-7302[email protected]Liz Barrow
CaliforniaCosta MesaOrange Coast College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(714)432-5549[email protected]Darryl Isaac
ConnecticutHartfordSt Francis Hospital and Medical Center
CertificateAdult Echocardiography(860)714-5698[email protected]Richard Palma
FloridaFort MyersEdison State College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(239)489-9430[email protected]Jeff Davis
FloridaWinter HavenPolk State College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(863)669-2947[email protected]Kevin Ferrier
FloridaFort LauderdaleSanford Brown Institute
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(954)308-7413[email protected]Luis Moriyon
FloridaJacksonvilleSanford Brown Institute
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(904)363-6221[email protected] Lowell Hecht
FloridaGainesvilleSanta Fe College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(352)395-5702[email protected]Sharon Whitcraft
FloridaGainesvilleSanta Fe College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(352)395-5702[email protected]Sharon Whitcraft
FloridaGainesvilleSanta Fe College
AssociateNoninvasive Vascular Study(352)395-5702[email protected]Sharon Whitcraft
FloridaOrlandoValencia College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(407)582-1550[email protected]Sarah Powers
GeorgiaAugustaAugusta Technical College
CertificateAdult Echocardiography(706)774-5044[email protected]Patricia Thomas
GeorgiaAugustaAugusta Technical College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(706)774-5044[email protected]Patricia Thomas
GeorgiaAugustaAugusta Technical College
BaccalaureateAdult Echocardiography(706)774-5044[email protected]Patricia Thomas
GeorgiaAugustaAugusta Technical College
CertificateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(706)774-5044[email protected]Patricia Thomas
GeorgiaAugustaAugusta Technical College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(706)774-5044[email protected]Patricia Thomas
GeorgiaAugustaAugusta Technical College
BaccalaureateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(706)774-5044[email protected]Patricia Thomas
GeorgiaAugustaAugusta Technical College
CertificateNoninvasive Vascular Study(706)774-5044[email protected]Patricia Thomas
GeorgiaAugustaAugusta Technical College
AssociateNoninvasive Vascular Study(706)774-5044[email protected]Patricia Thomas
GeorgiaAugustaAugusta Technical College
BaccalaureateNoninvasive Vascular Study(706)774-5044[email protected]Patricia Thomas
GeorgiaAlbanyDarton State College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(229)317-6973[email protected]Anthony Williams
GeorgiaAlbanyDarton State College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(229)317-6973[email protected]Anthony Williams
GeorgiaLawrencevilleGwinnett Technical College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(678)226-6334[email protected]Kristen Buoy
GeorgiaLawrencevilleGwinnett Technical College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(678)226-6334[email protected]Kristen Buoy
GeorgiaAtlantaSanford Brown College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(770)688-3026[email protected]Theresa Caldwell
IllinoisHillsideSanford Brown College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(708)836-3266[email protected]Michael Fischer
KentuckyLouisvilleNorton Healthcare
CertificateAdult Echocardiography(502)629-3668[email protected]Elizabeth Gilson
KentuckyLouisvilleSpencerian College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(502)447-1000[email protected]Vicki Lemaster
LouisianaLacombeCardiovascular Technology Training Inc.
CertificateAdult Echocardiography(985)801-0088[email protected]Richard Brown
LouisianaNew OrleansLouisiana State University Health Sciences Center
CertificateAdult Echocardiography(504)568-4229[email protected]Andy Pellett
LouisianaNew OrleansLouisiana State University Health Sciences Center
BaccalaureateAdult Echocardiography(504)568-4229[email protected]Andy Pellett
MassachusettsBostonSanford Brown College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(617)578-7145[email protected]Jeffrey Hill
MarylandColumbiaHoward Community College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(443)518-4466[email protected]William L. Fisher
MichiganTroyCarnegie Institute
DiplomaInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(248)589-1078[email protected]Alan Bennett
MichiganTroyCarnegie Institute
DiplomaAdult Echocardiography(248)589-1078[email protected]Carole L Reed
MichiganTroyCarnegie Institute
DiplomaNoninvasive Vascular Study(248)589-1078[email protected]Maria Reyes
MichiganGrand RapidsGrand Valley State University
BaccalaureateNoninvasive Vascular Study(616)331-5951[email protected]Jennifer VanderPoel
MichiganGrand RapidsGrand Valley State University
BaccalaureateAdult Echocardiography(616)331-5952[email protected]Katelyn C. Lowman
MichiganGrand RapidsGrand Valley State University
BaccalaureatePediatric Echocardiography(616)331-5952[email protected]Katelyn C. Lowman
MichiganRoscommonKirtland Community College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(989)705-3604[email protected]James Eastman
MichiganDearbornSanford Brown College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(313)203-3546[email protected]Margo Paul
MinnesotaEast Grand ForksNorthland Community and Technical College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(218)793-2591[email protected]Robert Peters
MinnesotaSt. CloudSt. Cloud Technical and Community College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(320)308-6010[email protected]Patrick McGuire
North CarolinaCharlotteCentral Piedmont Community College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(704)330-6285[email protected]Sabrina Black
North CarolinaCharlotteCentral Piedmont Community College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(704)330-6285[email protected]Sabrina Black
NebraskaLincolnBryan College of Health Sciences
BaccalaureateAdult Echocardiography(402)481-8561[email protected]Renee Hathaway
NebraskaLincolnBryan College of Health Sciences
BaccalaureateNoninvasive Vascular Study(402)481-8561[email protected]Renee Hathaway
New JerseyRamseyEastwick College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(201)327-8877[email protected]Lisa DiLauri
New JerseyRamseyEastwick College
AssociateNoninvasive Vascular Study(201)327-8877[email protected]Lisa DiLauri
New JerseyMorristownMorristown Medical Center
DiplomaAdult Echocardiography(973)971-6336[email protected]Susan Smith
New JerseyMorristownMorristown Medical Center
DiplomaInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(973)971-6336[email protected]Susan Smith
New JerseyMorristownMorristown Medical Center
DiplomaNoninvasive Vascular Study(973)971-6336[email protected]Susan Smith
New JerseyScotch PlainsRutgers, The State Universityof New Jersey(Program Formerly UMDNJ)
BaccalaureateNoninvasive Vascular Study(908)889-2468[email protected]Stanley Ort
New YorkRockville CentreMolloy College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(516)678-5000 x 6958[email protected]Michael J. Hartman
New YorkRockville CentreMolloy College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(516)678-5000 x 6958[email protected]Michael J. Hartman
New YorkRockville CentreMolloy College
AssociateNoninvasive Vascular Study(516)678-5000 x 6958[email protected]Michael J. Hartman
OhioToledoMercy College of Ohio
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(419)251-1538[email protected]Vickie Delaney
OhioToledoMercy College of Ohio
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(419)251-1538[email protected]Vickie Delaney
OhioMiddleburg HeightsSanford Brown College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(440)202-3250[email protected]Stephen Pustay
OhioColumbusSanford Brown College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(614)948-0141[email protected]Rena' Law
PennsylvaniaDanvilleGeisinger Health System
DiplomaInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(570)271-6638[email protected]Stephanie Ranck
PennsylvaniaBeaver FallsGeneva College
BaccalaureateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(703)776-3773[email protected]Mark McDowell
PennsylvaniaGwynedd ValleyGwynedd-Mercy College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(215)542-4659[email protected]Andrea Reiley-Helzner
PennsylvaniaGwynedd ValleyGwynedd-Mercy College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(215)542-4659[email protected]Andrea Reiley-Helzner
PennsylvaniaLancasterHarrisburg Area Community College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(717)358-2872[email protected]Kristy Werkheiser
PennsylvaniaLancasterHarrisburg Area Community College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(717)358-2872[email protected]Kristy Werkheiser
PennsylvaniaLancasterPennsylvania College of Health Sciences
AssociateCardiac Electrophysiology(717)544-7543[email protected]Lee Ann Johnson
PennsylvaniaLancasterPennsylvania College of Health Sciences
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(717)544-7543[email protected]Lee Ann Johnson
South CarolinaGreenwoodPiedmont Technical College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(864)941-8717[email protected]Laura Rawlings
South CarolinaGreenwoodPiedmont Technical College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(864)941-8618[email protected]Christy Nichols
South CarolinaColumbiaSisters of Charity Providence Hospitals
CertificateAdult Echocardiography(803)256-5743[email protected]Daniel Chambers
South CarolinaColumbiaSisters of Charity Providence Hospitals
CertificateNoninvasive Vascular Study(803)256-5743[email protected]Daniel Chambers
South DakotaSioux FallsSoutheast Technical Institute
AssociateNoninvasive Vascular Study(605)367-4634[email protected]Cathy Miller
South DakotaSioux FallsSoutheast Technical Institute
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(605)367-4634[email protected]Patrick Hoier
South DakotaSioux FallsSoutheast Technical Institute
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(605)367-4634[email protected]Pamela Boyd
TennesseeNashvilleFortis Institute
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(615)320-5917[email protected]Pamela Brown
TennesseeBlountvilleNortheast State Community College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(423)279-3680[email protected]Connie Marshall
TennesseeBlountvilleNortheast State Community College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(423)279-3680[email protected]Connie Marshall
TexasDallasEl Centro College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(214)860-2314[email protected]George Nelson
TexasDallasEl Centro College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(214)860-2310[email protected]Catherine Carolan
TexasFort Sam HoustonMedical Education and Training Campus
CertificateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(210)808-3784[email protected]Mark A. Spears
TexasDallasSanford Brown College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(214)459-8490[email protected]Javaid Ajmal
TexasSan AntonioSanford Brown College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(210)246-7730[email protected]Terry Ware
VirginiaChesapeakeSentara College of Health Sciences
DiplomaNoninvasive Vascular Study(757)388-2900[email protected]Asha Glenn
VirginiaChesapeakeSentara College of Health Sciences
DiplomaAdult Echocardiography(757)388-2900[email protected]Drew DiGeronmimo
WashingtonSpokaneSpokane Community College
AssociateNoninvasive Vascular Study(509)533-8617[email protected]Rachael Kendoll
WashingtonSpokaneSpokane Community College-Spokane and Tacoma
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(509)533-7306[email protected]Darren Powell
WashingtonSpokaneSpokane Community College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(509)533-8020[email protected]Dennis Carney
WisconsinMilwaukeeMilwaukee Area Technical College
AssociateAdult Echocardiography(414)297-8517[email protected]Erwin Wuehr
WisconsinMilwaukeeMilwaukee Area Technical College
AssociateInvasive Cardiovascular Technology(414)297-8517[email protected]Erwin Wuehr


Choosing the Right Occupation

One of the advantages of becoming a general Sonographer is that a greater variety of procedures and medical conditions are included in the work schedule. However, specializing enables the health professional to concentrate on an area of particular interest.

Pros and Cons as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

The advantages of a career as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer include the following:

  • Uses no dyes or radiation
  • Involves only noninvasive procedures
  • Growing medical field as healthcare industry moves more towards non-invasive procedures
  • Unlike many medical procedures, ultrasound technology is used in procedures like fetus imaging that bring joy to patients
  • Excellent job prospects as healthcare industry expands

The disadvantages of choosing a career as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer are:

  • Might have to work rotating shifts or be on call a minimum number of days each month
  • Must do a lot of standing and walking
  • Wages and salaries vary based on a number of factors like geographic location, number of medical facilities, population, and so on
  • Mentally demanding work requiring attention to details while maintaining a positive attitude that reassures patients

[Read: Is Ultrasound Technician a Good Career for You?]


Pros and Cons as a Cardiovascular Technologist

The advantages of a career as a Cardiovascular Technologist include:

  • Varied work requiring the use of a variety of medical equipment
  • With proper certification, can perform more challenging invasive procedures
  • Able to earn more as a specialist
  • Able to concentrate on medical issues related to professional interests

The disadvantages of a career as a Cardiovascular Technologist are:

  • Involvement in invasive procedures
  • Often required to be on call and work nights and weekends
  • High stress job because many patients have serious heart problems
  • Might need state licensing as a Cardiovascular Invasive Technologist


Anyone looking for an excellent career in the health field, but does not want to become a doctor or nurse, will find good options in Diagnostic Medical Sonography or Cardiovascular Technology (invasive or non-invasive). The ideal career choice is largely dependent on personal interests.

I would love to hear any comments or questions that you might have in regards to becoming a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer or becoming a Cardiovascular Technologist. Feel free to leave your comments below!

  • Alana Crain


    I’m interested in becoming an ultrasound technician but not quite sure the best route is to go as far as education? I have an Associate’s in an unrelated field and have no healthcare experience. When I was younger I wanted to go into the medical field but was also passionate about the arts so went that direction. Being older and worrying about job security, I’ve decided to take a completely opposite career path. I’ve always wanted to do something in healthcare but couldn’t quite pinpoint what I wanted to do and after lots of research, sonography seems to be the best fit for me. However, I’m quite confused on how to go about education. Looking into Accredited programs, there are different prerequisites. Do I do a two year program and get an Associate’s in sonography or should I continue with a Bachelor’s since I have some college background? I just want to take the right path to get into a great program once I’ve completed the prerequisites. Thanks in advance for any help, thought or insight!

    • Lisa Parmley

      Thank you for your inquiry. We enjoy hearing from people who are considering a career as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. You have asked an excellent question. Though you do not have healthcare experience, the fact you have an Associate’s degree means you have likely completed most of the general education requirements to enter a sonography program. The first step is reviewing general requirements of the preferred schools to find out what is required to qualify for application.

      The choice between pursuing an associate or bachelor’s degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography really depends on career goals. If you desire to eventually qualify for an administrative position, the bachelor’s degree is the best choice. If you envision a career in which you are always working directly with patients, the associate’s degree is a good choice. The other primary reason to get a bachelor’s degree is if you are looking for a job in a very competitive market for sonographers. If available positions typically have dozens of applications, employers may decide to rank them based on degrees earned.

      There are two points to keep in mind concerning your next steps. First, only attend a CAAHEP accredited program because employers recognize this type of program as the highest quality. In fact, job positions often include graduation from a CAAHEP accredited program as a requirement. Second, you must get registered with ARDMS because credentials are viewed as the equivalent of licensing in most states.

      You have chosen a great career path in the healthcare industry. The demand for sonographers will only continue to grow. Good luck in your future endeavors, and please contact us if you have any more questions.