Sonography is the use of sound waves to generate images for diagnostic purposes. It is also known as ultrasonography and is considered safer than other imaging procedures like the x-ray as a sonography does not emit harmful radiation. Echocardiography or Cardiac Sonography is a specialization in the field of sonography and it deals with taking images of the heart. This is one of the rewarding careers in the healthcare industry today with cardiac sonographers taking home paychecks that average over USD 55,000 per year.
There are several other benefits associated with this career, for example working with cutting edge medical technology and being at the forefront of diagnostics. Many diagnostic cardiac sonographers work with mobile units and say that they love the experience of reaching out to the rural population. There are 2 registration bodies, one is the ARDMS (American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers) and the other is the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI).
Average Salary Range
There are no licensure requirements for diagnostic sonographers, except in two states New Mexico and Oregon. However, registered diagnostic cardiac sonographers are known to earn comparatively higher salaries than their non-registered counterparts. A registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer pay scale has a wide range, people entering the field can expect to earn USD 45,000 per year. With experience the salary is expected to rise and can hover around the USD 55,000 per year mark. Some registered sonographers with experience are known to earn salaries that exceed the USD 65,000 per year mark.
The job location also plays an important factor in influencing the registered diagnostic sonographer salary. People working in cities with high cost of living like New York are known to take home paychecks that amount to USD 58,000 per year. According to state-wide statistics in California the average salary of a cardiac sonographer is USD 50,000 annually. In places like Texas the average annual salary is USD 45,000. Places like Alaska, where the cost of living is comparatively lower, sonographers earn around USD 38,000 per year.
Many sonographers work on a contract basis and may visit clinics and hospitals when required, the registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer (RDCS) hourly rate is around USD 25 to USD 30. In big hospitals the hourly wages can go up to USD 35 for people with experience. In places like New York the reported hourly wages are known to touch the USD 39 mark. Austin, Texas is another place to report high hourly wages that range between USD 33 - USD 35 mark. Some cities like Chicago report low hourly wages ranging between USD 23 to USD 25.
If you want to pursue this career, then you could apply for training courses in colleges, vocational institutes, universities and hospitals. Training programs offered by colleges and universities last for 2 or 4 years. These, associate and degree programs cover topics like patient care, anatomy, instrumentation, physiology, etc. It is advisable that you get into training programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Visiting the CAAHEP website to get information about accredited institutes is a good idea. Individuals who are qualified in allied health professions can also opt for a 1 year specialized training program offered by many hospitals and vocational-technical training institutes.
They are mostly employed by hospitals, clinics, and mobile health facilities and usually work 40 hour a week shifts. Operating hi-tech medical diagnostic equipment is their main responsibility. They also generate reports that help doctors with diagnosing the medical problem. Interacting with patients and giving them before and after test instructions is one of their other duties. They are at times required to stand for extended periods while performing diagnostic tests. Physically moving the patients to capture the right images and videos for diagnostics is the mainstay of their job. When working for mobile healthcare units they may have to travel long distances and work long hours.
The healthcare industry is facing a shortage of trained diagnostic staff and this translates to job opportunities for registered diagnostic cardiac sonographers. According to analysts, the salaries are expected to rise in the coming years and this is the right time to opt for this profession.