What Does a Cardiac Sonographer Do? (With Duties and Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 31 January 2023

Published 26 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Cardiac sonographers are medical professionals who perform diagnostic imaging tests of patients' hearts and vascular systems. Cardiac sonographers gather information about patients' heart function and blood flow for cardiologists, ensuring they can provide the best care for patients with heart and blood vessel illnesses and disorders. Learning what cardiac sonographers do may help you decide if this is the right career for you.

In this article, we answer the question, ‘What does a cardiac sonographer do?’, explore their job responsibilities, skills and work environment, explain how to become one and provide answers to some frequently asked questions about the role.

Related: How to Become a Sonographer in 5 Steps

What does a cardiac sonographer do?

Learning the answer to, ‘What does a cardiac sonographer do?’ can help you decide if this is a role you want to pursue. Cardiac sonographers use imaging technologies to assist physicians in diagnosing and treating patients with cardiac conditions. As a cardiac sonographer, you can ensure a patient with a heart condition receives the best care from various cardiologists by providing relevant information about their heart function and vascular system.

Cardiac sonographer responsibilities

Here are some of a cardiac sonographer's primary responsibilities:

  • Performing tests, such as transthoracic and transoesophageal echocardiograms, to evaluate patients' heart and vascular functions

  • Assessing medical images and selecting the best pictures to send to other medical professionals

  • Helping patients understand medical imaging testing by explaining the procedures involved in simple terms and answering their questions about the tests

  • Operating and maintaining a variety of echocardiogram and ultrasound equipment by following the correct procedure for setup, use and storage

  • Arranging patients' schedules for medical imaging appointments and liaising between patients and physicians

  • Writing reports and recommendations about their findings from the tests they perform

  • Taking referrals from other health professionals

  • Supporting other medical professionals in their diagnoses by reviewing images and highlighting areas of concern and abnormalities

  • Selecting and positioning appropriate equipment to perform tests and obtain clear images

  • Positioning patients and ensuring they're comfortable during imaging procedures

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Skills for a cardiac sonographer

To help them complete their daily tasks, sonographers may use the following skills:

  • Technical sonography skills: These professionals can use technical skills to operate and maintain the sonography equipment.

  • Communication: Excellent communication skills are essential in this role because sonographers work closely with patients and help them understand the medical imaging test process. These skills are also necessary for coordinating with other health professionals in the hospital, including cardiologists and electrocardiogram (EKG) technicians.

  • Detail orientation: Cardiac sonographers follow precise instructions and work to obtain accurate results in diagnostic imaging. They can use attention to detail to ensure accuracy throughout the imaging process.

  • Writing skills: Cardiac sonographers write reports, make recommendations and record patients' test results. It's essential to write clear, accurate and reliable reports since other health professionals use them in treating heart patients.

  • Time management: Cardiac sonographers often have busy schedules handling multiple appointments. Organisational skills can help them schedule appointments, manage teams, write reports and perform consultations.

  • Teamwork: Cardiac sonographers work in teams with other professionals in echocardiographic laboratories and hospitals. They can use teamwork skills to help them collaborate effectively.

  • Physical stamina: Cardiac sonographers often stay on their feet for long period. They may also lift and move patients, which requires physical stamina and strength.

How to become a cardiac sonographer

Consider following these steps to become a cardiac sonographer:

1. Obtain academic qualifications

You can become a cardiac sonographer with a postgraduate qualification in medical sonography. It may also help to register with the Australian Sonographer Accreditation Registry. This requires high school certification with math, English, chemistry and biology majors for eligibility. As an undergraduate, you may consider completing a degree in applied science or a similar field, such as nursing, medical imaging, radiotherapy, medical radiation science, biomedical science or nuclear medicine technology. You can also combine an undergraduate and postgraduate course. For example, postgraduate courses may include a Graduate Diploma in Medical Ultrasound, Medical Sonography or Master of Medical Ultrasound.

To maintain your registration with the Australian Sonographer Accreditation Registry, you can participate in a continuing professional development program from an accredited institution. Consider upskilling to increase the chance of earning a higher income, achieving promotion and advancing your career, such as becoming an educator or researcher. Qualified overseas candidates may have their academic qualifications, clinical experience and English proficiency assessed before receiving accreditation from the Australian Sonographer Accreditation Registry and the Australian Society of Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy.

2. Gain experience

Experience plays a vital role in the career path of a cardiac sonographer since most employers require pre-entry work experience. Degree programs may include clinical rotations under the supervision of experienced cardiac sonographers, which can provide training in a work setting. As a student, you may perform medical imaging tests and interact with patients and other health professionals. Employers may also offer on-the-job training to help you familiarise yourself with new equipment and processes.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Medical Internships in Australia

3. Apply for jobs

You can apply for cardiac sonographer positions once you have the academic qualifications and meet employers' specific requirements. It's essential to update your resume before applying to become a cardiac sonographer. You can include your educational achievements, experience gained and relevant skills in your resume. You can also amend your cover letter and resume to try and match ideal candidate requirements of various hiring organisations when applying for a cardiac sonographer position.

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The work environment of cardiac sonographers

Cardiac sonographers usually work full time on weekdays, although they may also work during weekends, holidays and evenings and perform on-call coverage, depending on the employer. Employers, such as public and private hospitals, medical clinics, doctors' offices and diagnostic imaging centres, may hire you as a cardiac sonographer. Those working in fast-paced hospitals may have an unpredictable schedule as the workload fluctuates. Clinical settings and imaging centres typically have regular schedules, with patients booking their tests in advance.

You may have an active role as a cardiac sonographer, performing various tasks involving walking to and from offices. For example, you might perform an echocardiogram test, record patient test results and consult other physicians in different locations within a hospital.

The job outlook for cardiac sonographers

According to Job Outlook, this is a small occupation, but the demand for cardiac sonographers is rising. Cardiac sonographers can work in many regions of Australia. They typically work full time, but there may be some part-time opportunities available.

Salary for a cardiac sonographer

The national average salary for sonographers, including cardiac sonographers, is $91,868. Salaries may vary depending on your academic qualification, employer, job location and level of experience. For instance, cardiac sonographers working for private employers may earn more than those working for public institutions. Additionally, the role you perform can affect your salary. Consider additional education for better pay and career advancement.

Frequently asked questions about becoming a cardiac sonographer

The following are the answers to some commonly asked questions about cardiac sonographers:

How long does it take to become a cardiac sonographer?

Depending on the career path you choose, it can take five years or more to become a cardiac sonographer. An undergraduate degree from an accredited institution typically takes three to four years, while a postgraduate qualification may take two years. Training or placement as a cardiac sonographer may take a year if you have medical training or work in applied science or an equivalent discipline.

Is cardiac sonography taught online?

Cardiac sonography courses typically require in-person attendance. Cardiac sonographers operate, maintain and clean ultrasound and echocardiography equipment. They require practical training to select and use specific equipment for various tests. Thus, it's vital that they're physically present to gain the relevant knowledge and skills.

What are the specialties within cardiac sonography?

Cardiac sonography is a speciality within the general field of sonography. Its subspecialty, paediatric cardiac sonography, doesn't require additional training. There are other specialties in sonography, such as obstetrics and gynaecology sonography and neuro sonography. These typically do require additional or unique training, as they focus on different parts of the body.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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