What Does an Ultrasound Technician Do?
Ultrasound technicians use a tool called a transducer that carries sound waves into the patient. As these waves hit soft tissues and vascular systems, they create images on an attached screen. These images can then be used by the ultrasound technician or the attending physician in order to assess the health situation of a given patient.
Ultrasound technicians do more than scan for the sex of a fetus or track the growth and development of an unborn child. While this aspect of sonography is the one with which the general public is most familiar, ultrasound technology can be used on almost any part of the body. It is less invasive than surgery and less harmful than MRIs or other diagnostic procedures, which means that sonography is rapidly becoming the primary tool for diagnosing and identifying issues within the human body. As with most other states in the US, ultrasound technicians in California are expected to use imaging in order to help physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. They also record what they find and add it to a patient’s medical records for later use and analysis.
There are plenty of opportunities for potential ultrasound technicians to get into the field thanks to the large number of research institutions, hospitals and other medical facilities in the state of California. However, actually becoming an ultrasound technician requires rigorous training.
How Does One Become an Ultrasound Technician in California?
Most people become ultrasound technicians by enrolling in a degree program or a certification course. Associate’s degrees, Bachelor’s degrees and one-year certificates are available at accredited schools throughout California. Subjects taught in such programs can include:
- Basic human anatomy and physiology
- Principles of sonography and diagnostic medical imaging
- Medical terminology
- Medical ethics
- Vascular technology
In addition, most qualified programs require their students to complete an internship or practicum in a medical setting. This gives them the hands-on experience that they need in order to enter the workforce after graduation. Clinical hours tend to make up a large part of the overall credit hours needed for a degree or certification.
Prospective students should look for ultrasound technology programs in California that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). This ensures that their education will be up to national standards.
Is Certification Required?
After they have finished their schooling, prospective ultrasound technicians must earn a certification of some kind in order to work in the field. Certification is offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) as well as the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). ARDMS offers certification in all aspects of ultrasound technology, from gynecology and obstetrics to vascular sonography.
Once they have achieved their certification, ultrasound technicians must maintain an “active” status with the accrediting body that granted them the qualification. This usually involves taking classes every two years in order to keep up with advancements in the field.
What is the Job Outlook for Ultrasound Technicians in California?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of ultrasound technicians and diagnostic sonographers is expected to grow by 46 percent between 2012 and 2022. This is largely due to the popularity of ultrasound technology as a non-invasive diagnostic tool.
The job outlook for ultrasound technicians in California is rather good. Data published by the BLS in May 2013 shows that the annual mean salary for diagnostic medical sonographers in California is $86,550. Individual salaries will vary according to location, work experience and credentials held by the applicant. Newly graduated ultrasound technicians can find jobs in hospitals, research facilities, out-patient centers and private or public healthcare clinics. After a few years of working in the field, they may decide to continue their education or lend their experience and skills to research and development companies in order to improve existing technology. Other ultrasound technicians may become leaders in the sonography department in which they work.
Becoming an Ultrasound Technician in California: the Key to a Rewarding Career
As the demand for trained ultrasound technicians continues to grow, graduates of accredited programs in California will find that they have a wide range of options available to them within the field of sonography. It can be an extremely rewarding and fulfilling career for those who want to achieve real results in the area of patient-facing healthcare.