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

TOP OF PAGE

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

TOP OF PAGE

Sonographer Salary vs. Cardiovascular Technologist Salary

Per the U.S. Department of Labor, the 2013 median annual wage for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers was $66,410. This is compared to $53,210 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

States
City
Institute
Degrees
Concentration
Phone
Alabama
Mobile
Cardiac and Vascular Institute of Ultrasound
www.ultrasound.edu/
Certificate
Adult Echocardiography
(251)433-1600
Alabama
Mobile
Cardiac and Vascular Institute of Ultrasound
www.ultrasound.edu/
Certificate
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(251)433-1600
Arizona
Phoenix
Sanford Brown Institute
www.sanfordbrown.edu/Phoenix
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(480)444-1175
California
El Cajon
Grossmont College
www.grossmont.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(619)644-7302
California
El Cajon
Grossmont College
www.grossmont.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(619)644-7302
California
El Cajon
Grossmont College
www.grossmont.edu/
Associate
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(619)644-7302
California
Costa Mesa
Orange Coast College
www.orangecoastcollege.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(714)432-5549
Connecticut
Hartford
St Francis Hospital and Medical Center
www.stfranciscare.org/
Certificate
Adult Echocardiography
(860)714-5698
Florida
Fort Myers
Edison State College
www.edison.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(239)489-9430
Florida
Winter Haven
Polk State College
www.polk.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(863)669-2947
Florida
Fort Lauderdale
Sanford Brown Institute
www.sanfordbrown.edu/Fort-Lauderdale
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(954)308-7413
Florida
Jacksonville
Sanford Brown Institute
www.sanfordbrown.edu/Jacksonville
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(904)363-6221
Florida
Gainesville
Santa Fe College
www.sfcollege.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(352)395-5702
Florida
Gainesville
Santa Fe College
www.sfcollege.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(352)395-5702
Florida
Gainesville
Santa Fe College
www.sfcollege.edu/
Associate
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(352)395-5702
Florida
Orlando
Valencia College
valenciacollege.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(407)582-1550
Georgia
Augusta
Augusta Technical College
www.augustatech.edu/
Certificate
Adult Echocardiography
(706)774-5044
Georgia
Augusta
Augusta Technical College
www.augustatech.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(706)774-5044
Georgia
Augusta
Augusta Technical College
www.augustatech.edu/
Baccalaureate
Adult Echocardiography
(706)774-5044
Georgia
Augusta
Augusta Technical College
www.augustatech.edu/
Certificate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(706)774-5044
Georgia
Augusta
Augusta Technical College
www.augustatech.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(706)774-5044
Georgia
Augusta
Augusta Technical College
www.augustatech.edu/
Baccalaureate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(706)774-5044
Georgia
Augusta
Augusta Technical College
www.augustatech.edu/
Certificate
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(706)774-5044
Georgia
Augusta
Augusta Technical College
www.augustatech.edu/
Associate
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(706)774-5044
Georgia
Augusta
Augusta Technical College
www.augustatech.edu/
Baccalaureate
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(706)774-5044
Georgia
Albany
Darton State College
www.darton.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(229)317-6973
Georgia
Albany
Darton State College
www.darton.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(229)317-6973
Georgia
Lawrenceville
Gwinnett Technical College
www.gwinnetttech.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(678)226-6334
Georgia
Lawrenceville
Gwinnett Technical College
www.gwinnetttech.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(678)226-6334
Georgia
Atlanta
Sanford Brown College
www.sanfordbrown.edu/Atlanta
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(770)688-3026
Illinois
Hillside
Sanford Brown College
www.sanfordbrown.edu/HILLSIDE
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(708)836-3266
Kentucky
Louisville
Norton Healthcare
www.nortonhealthcare.com/
Certificate
Adult Echocardiography
(502)629-3668
Kentucky
Louisville
Spencerian College
www.spencerian.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(502)447-1000
Louisiana
Lacombe
Cardiovascular Technology Training Inc.
www.cardiovasculartechnologytraining.com/
Certificate
Adult Echocardiography
(985)801-0088
Louisiana
New Orleans
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
www.lsuhsc.edu/
Certificate
Adult Echocardiography
(504)568-4229
Louisiana
New Orleans
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
www.lsuhsc.edu/
Baccalaureate
Adult Echocardiography
(504)568-4229
Massachusetts
Boston
Sanford Brown College
www.sanfordbrown.edu/Boston
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(617)578-7145
Maryland
Columbia
Howard Community College
www.howardcc.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(443)518-4466
Michigan
Troy
Carnegie Institute
www.carnegie-institute.edu/
Diploma
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(248)589-1078
Michigan
Troy
Carnegie Institute
www.carnegie-institute.edu/
Diploma
Adult Echocardiography
(248)589-1078
Michigan
Troy
Carnegie Institute
www.carnegie-institute.edu/
Diploma
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(248)589-1078
Michigan
Grand Rapids
Grand Valley State University
www.gvsu.edu/
Baccalaureate
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(616)331-5951
Michigan
Grand Rapids
Grand Valley State University
www.gvsu.edu/
Baccalaureate
Adult Echocardiography
(616)331-5952
Michigan
Grand Rapids
Grand Valley State University
www.gvsu.edu/
Baccalaureate
Pediatric Echocardiography
(616)331-5952
Michigan
Roscommon
Kirtland Community College
www.kirtland.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(989)705-3604
Michigan
Dearborn
Sanford Brown College
www.sanfordbrown.edu/Dearborn
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(313)203-3546
Minnesota
East Grand Forks
Northland Community and Technical College
www.northlandcollege.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(218)793-2591
Minnesota
St. Cloud
St. Cloud Technical and Community College
www.sctcc.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(320)308-6010
North Carolina
Charlotte
Central Piedmont Community College
www.cpcc.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(704)330-6285
North Carolina
Charlotte
Central Piedmont Community College
www.cpcc.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(704)330-6285
Nebraska
Lincoln
Bryan College of Health Sciences
www.bryanlghcollege.edu/
Baccalaureate
Adult Echocardiography
(402)481-8561
Nebraska
Lincoln
Bryan College of Health Sciences
www.bryanlghcollege.edu/
Baccalaureate
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(402)481-8561
New Jersey
Ramsey
Eastwick College
www.eastwick.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(201)327-8877
New Jersey
Ramsey
Eastwick College
www.eastwick.edu/
Associate
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(201)327-8877
New Jersey
Morristown
Morristown Medical Center
www.atlantichealth.org/morristown/
Diploma
Adult Echocardiography
(973)971-6336
New Jersey
Morristown
Morristown Medical Center
www.atlantichealth.org/morristown/
Diploma
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(973)971-6336
New Jersey
Morristown
Morristown Medical Center
www.atlantichealth.org/morristown/
Diploma
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(973)971-6336
New Jersey
Scotch Plains
Rutgers, The State Universityof New Jersey(Program Formerly UMDNJ)
www.shrp.rutgers.edu/
Baccalaureate
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(908)889-2468
New York
Rockville Centre
Molloy College
www.molloy.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(516)678-5000 x 6958
New York
Rockville Centre
Molloy College
www.molloy.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(516)678-5000 x 6958
New York
Rockville Centre
Molloy College
www.molloy.edu/
Associate
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(516)678-5000 x 6958
Ohio
Toledo
Mercy College of Ohio
www.mercycollege.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(419)251-1538
Ohio
Toledo
Mercy College of Ohio
www.mercycollege.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(419)251-1538
Ohio
Middleburg Heights
Sanford Brown College
www.sanfordbrown.edu/Cleveland
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(440)202-3250
Ohio
Columbus
Sanford Brown College
www.sanfordbrown.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(614)948-0141
Pennsylvan
ia
Danville
Geisinger Health System
www.geisinger.org/
Diploma
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(570)271-6638
Pennsylvania
Beaver Falls
Geneva College
www.geneva.edu/
Baccalaureate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(703)776-3773
Pennsylvania
Gwynedd Valley
Gwynedd-Mercy College
www.gmc.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(215)542-4659
Pennsylvania
Gwynedd Valley
Gwynedd-Mercy College
www.gmc.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(215)542-4659
Pennsylvania
Lancaster
Harrisburg Area Community College
www.hacc.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(717)358-2872
Pennsylvania
Lancaster
Harrisburg Area Community College
www.hacc.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(717)358-2872
Pennsylvania
Lancaster
Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences
www.pacollege.edu/
Associate
Cardiac Electrophysiology
(717)544-7543
Pennsylvania
Lancaster
Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences
www.pacollege.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(717)544-7543
South Carolina
Greenwood
Piedmont Technical College
www.ptc.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(864)941-8717
South Carolina
Greenwood
Piedmont Technical College
www.ptc.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(864)941-8618
South Carolina
Columbia
Sisters of Charity Providence Hospitals
www.provhosp.com/
Certificate
Adult Echocardiography
(803)256-5743
South Carolina
Columbia
Sisters of Charity Providence Hospitals
www.provhosp.com/
Certificate
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(803)256-5743
South Dakota
Sioux Falls
Southeast Technical Institute
www.southeasttech.edu/
Associate
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(605)367-4634
South Dakota
Sioux Falls
Southeast Technical Institute
www.southeasttech.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(605)367-4634
South Dakota
Sioux Falls
Southeast Technical Institute
www.southeasttech.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(605)367-4634
Tennessee
Nashville
Fortis Institute
www.fortis.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(615)320-5917
Tennessee
Blountville
Northeast State Community College
www.northeaststate.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(423)279-3680
Tennessee
Blountville
Northeast State Community College
www.northeaststate.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(423)279-3680
Texas
Dallas
El Centro College
www.elcentrocollege.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(214)860-2314
Texas
Dallas
El Centro College
www.elcentrocollege.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(214)860-2310
Texas
Fort Sam Houston
Medical Education and Training Campus
www.metc.mil/
Certificate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(210)808-3784
Texas
Dallas
Sanford Brown College
www.sanfordbrown.edu/DALLAS
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(214)459-8490
Texas
San Antonio
Sanford Brown College
www.sanfordbrown.edu/San-Antonio
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(210)246-7730
Virginia
Chesapeake
Sentara College of Health Sciences
www.sentara.edu/
Diploma
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(757)388-2900
Virginia
Chesapeake
Sentara College of Health Sciences
www.sentara.edu/
Diploma
Adult Echocardiography
(757)388-2900
Washington
Spokane
Spokane Community College
www.scc.spokane.edu/
Associate
Noninvasive Vascular Study
(509)533-8617
Washington
Spokane
Spokane Community College-Spokane and Tacoma
www.scc.spokane.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(509)533-7306
Washington
Spokane
Spokane Community College
www.scc.spokane.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(509)533-8020
Wisconsin
Milwaukee
Milwaukee Area Technical College
www.matc.edu/
Associate
Adult Echocardiography
(414)297-8517
Wisconsin
Milwaukee
Milwaukee Area Technical College
www.matc.edu/
Associate
Invasive Cardiovascular Technology
(414)297-8517

TOP OF PAGE

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?]

TOP OF PAGE

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

TOP OF PAGE

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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>