Echocardiography technicians and electrocardiograph technicians help diagnose cardiac conditions and problems by running specialty monitoring and diagnostic tests. You may work in similar environments in either role, but the jobs require different levels of education, training and skills. The reason: the tests you'll run use different types of equipment and have different purposes.
Echocardiography Technician Job Duties
If you work as an echocardiography technician, or cardiac sonographer, you'll be an integral part of a cardiology team, helping to diagnose heart conditions. Your job is to use ultrasound imaging to create echocardiograms, or pictures, of the heart, chambers, vessels and valves. Cardiologists use these images to diagnose conditions and evaluate cardiac functions. In some cases, you'll work with patients at rest; in others you'll perform echocardiograms while patients are exercising to assess the effects of physical activity on the heart.
Electrocardiograph Technician Job Duties
As an electrocardiograph technician, you'll use EKG equipment to create electrocardiograms. These tests monitor heart rates and blood pressure, and they can diagnose cardiac conditions, or check patients out before surgery. Some technicians also perform additional procedures, such as Holter monitoring and stress tests. Holter monitoring involves hooking a patient up to a portable EKG machine for longer periods so that you can check readings over time. In stress testing, you'll monitor patients' heart rates and blood pressure while they exercise, usually on a treadmill.
Similarities and Differences
Echocardiography and electrocardiograph technicians both work on cardiac diagnostic procedures. However, each job uses different kinds of equipment to produce different types of results. Echocardiographs produce images for analysis; electrocardiograms produce graphs showing electrical activity. Both jobs involve preparing patients for tests, taking relevant medical histories and some administrative work. You may also be responsible for checking and maintaining your equipment. Each role has a different training path.
How to Become an Echocardiography Technician
If you want to become an echocardiography technician, you'll need either a postsecondary certification or an associate's degree in echocardiography or related specialty such as diagnostic cardiac sonography. Certification isn't essential, but many employers prefer certified candidates. You can become a registered cardiac sonographer through Cardiovascular Credentialing International or a registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
How to Become an Electrocardiograph Technician
The minimum education requirement for this job is a high school diploma or GED. It is common for electrocardiograph technicians to train on the job; training takes around six weeks. This qualifies you to work on basic EKG procedures. It takes longer to learn advanced procedures, such as Holter monitoring and stress tests. If you want formal training, you can take a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree in cardiovascular technology. You don't need certification to work as an electrocardiograph tech, but this could improve your job prospects. Some techs become certified cardiographic technicians with Cardiovascular Credentialing International.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians and Vascular Technologists Do
- AlliedHealthWorld.com: Cardiac Sonographer
- AlliedHealthWorld.com: EKG Technician
- Cardiovascular Credentialing International: Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS)
- American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography: Credentials and Examinations
- Cardiovascular Credentialing International: Certified Cardiographic Technician (CCT)
- AlliedHealthWorld.com: Cardiac Sonographer Training
- AlliedHealthWorld.com: EKG Technician Certification
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Cardiovascular Technologist or Technician or Vascular Technologist
Carol Finch has been writing technology, careers, business and finance articles since 2000, tapping into her experience in sales, marketing and technology consulting. She has a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages, a Chartered Institute of Marketing.certificate and unofficial tech and gaming geek status with her long-suffering friends and family.