Also known as ultrasound technologists or diagnostic medical sonographers, ultrasound technicians are in extremely high demand across the healthcare arena, making it an increasingly popular career option. In addition to needing much less schooling than other medical professions, ultrasound technicians enjoy plenty of financial rewards and the satisfaction of knowing there are endless job and advancement opportunities available to them.
Job Duties of Ultrasound Technicians in Washington
Ultrasound technicians utilize ultrasound diagnostic and sonography imaging equipment to take digital pictures of patients’ internal organs, tissues, and blood flow to allow doctors to successfully diagnose illnesses and diseases. Ultrasound technicians typically work in imaging laboratories, hospital laboratories, and private medical facilities. Among others, ultrasound techs play a major role in the fields of neurology, gynecology, and obstetrics.
Rather than performing administrative tasks, ultrasound technicians in the state of Washington perform highly specialized duties, including:
• Informing patients about the ultrasound procedure and answering questions
• Determining proper patient positioning and the right equipment settings
• Internally scanning and taking images of patients’ organs
• Deciding whether or not a scan can be satisfactorily used for a diagnosis
In addition to these common job duties, ultrasound technicians in Washington also maintain and manage the ultrasound and sonography equipment, manage patient files, and help ensure the smooth operating function of the entire imaging division.
Education and Training Requirements for Washington Ultrasound Technicians
While becoming an ultrasound technician is much easier than gaining entry into many other medical professions, there are certain educational and training requirements that individuals must pass. In order to become an ultrasound technician, you will first need a high school diploma and certification from an accredited national certification agency, which requires the completion of an ultrasound technician program.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, commonly referred to as the CAAHEP, has accredited over 150 ultrasound technician training programs. There are three primary types of educational training programs for ultrasound technician students:
• One-Year Program – An option for those looking to put their ultrasound careers on the fast track or for those looking to broaden their healthcare career horizons, this program provides graduates with the vocational certificate needed to secure a job as a ultrasound technician.
• Associate’s Degree – This is another fast-track option, allowing students to earn their associate’s degree as an ultrasound technician in only two years. This is the most popular option for most of today’s sonographers.
• Bachelor’s Degree – Formal education and a bachelor’s degree opens up a world of possibilities. Most who pursue this four-year route are typically looking to move up within the healthcare industry.
Gaining a State of Washington Radiologic Technologist Certificate
Washington is a unique state in that prospective ultrasound technicians may be asked by employers to gain their State of Washington Radiologic Technologist certificate prior to being hired or as a condition of their employment. To obtain a certificate, the following steps must be completed:
1. Complete an educational training program that is accredited by the Washington State Department of Health.
2. Register with a national certification agency, such as the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists or the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
3. Fill out an application, submit it, and pay the $45 application fee.
4. Complete seven hours of HIV and AIDS awareness training from a certified program.
Any Washington resident interested in becoming an ultrasound technician should visit www.doh.wa.gov to contact the Washington State Department of Health and gain access to the State of Washington Radiologic Technologist certificate along with further details.
Ultrasound Technician Certification and Licensing in Washington
While there are no licensing requirements for ultrasound technicians in the state of Washington, to secure a job you should pass an American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography exam, or ARDMS, and become a certified ultrasound technician.
Career Outlook for Ultrasound Technicians
According to figures reported from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for ultrasound technicians are quite promising. In fact, the field is expected to grow by 19 percent through 2018. Washington is among the best states for ultrasound technicians as they earn a median salary of $75,320 per year. Ultrasound technicians on the low end of the scale earn $40,960 a year, while top earners bring home an impressive annual salary of $82,690.
Salaries for ultrasound technicians depend largely on the level of education achieved. Certification may allow you to gain entry into this in-demand medical field, but continued education will further your job prospects and boost your earning potential.