Training to become an ultrasound technician takes anywhere from two to four years depending on if you want an associate or bachelor degree. Throughout the country, you can find accredited programs at community colleges, teaching hospitals, universities, and vocational schools.
What Training is Required?
Programs begin with prerequisite courses such as Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Terminology, and Introduction to Computers before allowing students to take ultrasound courses.
The core curriculum varies from school to school, so you may take courses such as:
Abdominal Sonography – Students learn the normal anatomy of adult and pediatric patients, anatomic variants, pathology, physiology, and psychopathology of the upper abdominal, peritoneal cavity, and potential spaces, non-cardiac chest, gastrointestinal system, musculoskeletal system, and associated vasculature as visualized by ultrasound.
Breast Sonography – The study of breast anatomy as it pertains to medical ultrasound.
Doppler Principles and Instrumentation – This is the study of Doppler principles, display modes, hemodynamics, and resolution as it relates to ultrasound.
Introduction to Sonographic Scanning – This course introduces and evaluates dexterity, visual acuity, and sensitivity needed to create sonographic images crucial to diagnostic medical sonography.
MSK Sonography – This is a general introduction course that centers on the anatomy and physiology of the elbow, wrist, shoulder, knee, and ankle. Specific MSK scanning techniques are also covered.
Patient Care Skills – Students learn how to professionally speak with diverse populations, safe transferring skills, and attending to patients needs as well as infection control.
Ultrasound Physics and Instrumentation – This course teaches the fundamentals of ultrasound physics and instrumentation. Students are educated on the necessary skills, concepts, and understanding of the ultrasound equipment.
Clinical Training Requirements
Clinical training is another important part of an ultrasound technician program. In fact, it’s so important, that all programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs require this experience that:
- Gives students hands-on experience working with an ultrasound technician for six to twelve months depending on the program
- Gives students the opportunity to work in a variety of medical settings
- Gives students confidence to perform ultrasound procedures in different circumstances
During clinical training students can expect to:
- Perform exams under an experienced ultrasound technician’s supervision
- Observe exams
- Transfer patients to and from the department, and from wheelchairs and gurneys onto the patient table
- Maintain supplies
- Clean and sterilize equipment
- Respond to different hospital codes such as cardiac arrest
- Learn how to keep a professional appearance
- Show progressive improvement in ultrasound technician skills
- Prepare medical records and take patients’ medical history
Ultrasound training programs prepare students for optional certification (though most employers only hire those who have it) after graduation. The largest certifying body is the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). They allow candidates to earn the:
- Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer credential by successfully completing the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation exam (SPI) and one of the following: Adult Echocardiography, Fetal Echocardiography, or Pediatric Echocardiography.
- Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer credential by successfully completing the SPI exam and one of the following: Abdomen Sonography, Breast Sonography, Fetal Echocardiography, Neurosonology, or Obstetrics and gynecology.
- Registered Vascular Technologist credential by successfully passing the SPI exam along with one in Vascular Technology.
Job Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of jobs to rise 46 percent until 2022. The Bureau also states the average median salary is $66,410. Ultrasound technicians in California earn the highest with an average of $89,870, while those employed in Alabama earn the least with a yearly average of $50,700.
Ultrasound technician training is time-consuming, but the all night study sessions and hard work are worth it. If you would like to learn more about working in this interesting healthcare field, contact us today.