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Learn How Long it Takes to Become an Ultrasound Technician and More

how long does it take to become an ultrasound technicianUltrasound Technicians have rewarding careers identifying and monitoring a variety of medical conditions.  But before they can begin, they must earn a college degree.  If this sounds like the job for you, continue reading to learn about the duties, certification, salary, how long it takes to become an ultrasound technician, and more.

Job Duties

Ultrasound technicians have many duties they are responsible for on a day-to-day basis. The biggest part of the job is capturing images of patients’ body structures so physicians can determine a diagnosis or keep watch on certain conditions to see if thy are improving or worsening. General job duties for all sonography specialties include:

  • Explaining the process to patients and answering any questions they may have
  • Evaluating images for quality and interpreting the captured images
  • Obtaining measurements
  • Maintaining records
  • Giving preliminary findings to physicians
  • Upholding quality patient care standards before, during, and after the procedure
  • Administering contrast media through an intravenous line upon physician request
  • Consulting with various medical professionals
  • Moving patients as necessary in order to ensure a quality scan
  • Taking patient medical histories

Necessary Skills

The best ultrasound technicians have the following skills:

  • Excellent critical thinking skills in order to select the best images that will be the most helpful for physicians
  • Good physical stamina as the job requires a lot of standing
  • Good manual dexterity
  • Excellent verbal communication and interpersonal relationship skills due to all of the patient and physician interaction

Where Can Ultrasound Technicians Find Work? 

Ultrasound technicians often work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, outpatient centers, and other healthcare settings.

Educational Requirements

Exactly how long does it take to become an ultrasound technician? Well, they need to have an associate degree that takes two years to complete if classes are attended on a full-time basis. You can find programs at community colleges, universities, and vocational schools. Some universities offer four-year bachelor degree programs which usually give technicians a faster path to management or other supervisory roles. More and more students are choosing to earn a bachelor’s degree (including medical technology and medical imaging) as the job market is becoming more competitive. Curriculum differs from school to school, but no matter which degree option you choose, you are likely to take: Algebra/Applied Mathematics, Biology, Health Ethics, Medical Terminology, Introduction to Sonography, and Sonography Patient Care.

Before registering for classes, make sure the program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. There are over 150 such programs across the United States.

Training

Programs require clinical internships which give students an opportunity to practice their skills in a healthcare setting.

Certificate Programs

Those who are already working in the medical profession such as CT and MRI technologists, physician assistants, radiographers, and registered nurses can enroll in an accredited certificate program that takes one year to complete. The coursework specifically relates to ultrasound and includes classroom instruction and hands-on training. Many employers allow for flexible scheduling and/or tuition reimbursement for staff members enrolled in a certificate program.

Certification

Obtaining certification is not a requirement, but it is recommended because it raises your salary and lets employers and patients know that you have a solid understating of ultrasound technology. There are several organizations that offer certification, and one of the most common is the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).

Job Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job prospects for medical sonographers to increase by 46 percent between 2012 and 2022. The median yearly salary is $66,410, and factors that play a part in determining the amount are location, education, and certification.

If you have any questions about becoming an ultrasound technician, contact us. We can help you decide if this is the right career for you.