Ultrasound technicians operate diagnostic medical equipment that uses sound waves to obtain images of patients’ internal body structures. The procedure is usually non-invasive, and several branches of medicine take advantage of the technology to diagnose or monitor a myriad of conditions.
How to become an Ultrasound Technician
The first step to becoming an ultrasound technician is enrolling in a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Such programs are found nationally at community colleges, teaching hospitals, and universities, and before selecting a program, students must first decide if they would like to obtain an associate degree (two-year program) or a bachelor’s degree (four-year program). Courses vary, but you can expect to classes such as:
Medical Terminology – This course teaches students how to discuss a variety of medical related topics such as human anatomy, medications, and medical devices.
Physiology – This course centers around how the body’s internal organs work and their proper functions.
Ultrasound Principles – Students will complete a series of courses in relation to the principles behind ultrasound technology. Topics include how sonography works and how to prepare patients for the exam.
Sonographic Pathology – During this course, students learn the common disease processes relevant to sonographic imaging.
Echocardiography – Students learn about the heart’s normal anatomy along with its anatomic variants, physiology, pathology, and pathophysiology.
When it comes to an externship, the experience students gain is invaluable. They are supervised by a certified ultrasound technician in a real medical environment such as a hospital or private practice. During their participation, students receive hands-on training such as performing patient exams, stocking supplies, and cleaning equipment.
Ultrasound technicians do not need certification except in states that require technicians to be licensed. However, most employers will only hire those that hold the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer credential issued by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
Where do Ultrasound Technicians Work?
Most ultrasound technicians work in hospitals, but employment can also be found at: clinics, medical laboratories, nursing homes, outpatient facilities, and private physician practices.
Job Outlook and Salary
The demand for ultrasound technicians is high due to the fact more physicians are prescribing the exam over traditional radiology procedures. This is because sonograms do not use radiation which makes the procedure safe for adults, children, and fetuses.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median salary for this profession was $66,410 in 2013. To earn the highest wages, it’s best to have a bachelor’s degree, certification, and work in an urban area.
How to Find a Job
You can find listings for ultrasound technician positions in medical industry magazines, newspapers, and on the Internet.
Reasons to Consider Becoming an Ultrasound Technician
If you are still deciding on whether or not to become an ultrasound technician, here are some other factors you may want to consider:
Variety of Skills – You get to perform more than one task throughout the day. In addition to patient exams, you will clean and calibrate equipment, store data on a computer, and possibly prepare work schedules or evaluate equipment purchases.
You Aren’t Behind a Desk – If you prefer to always be on the move, it’s a real plus when working in this medical field. You will have to move patients, equipment, and have to stand for long periods of time.
Patient Interaction – If you want to work with patients, but don’t wish to become a doctor or nurse, this job provides plenty of interaction. You’ll have to take a medical history on each patient, explain the exam, and answer any questions.
Deciding to become an ultrasound technician is a big decision. If we can help, please contact us for more information.