How Do I Become an Ultrasound Technician?
The short answer is that you must complete an accredited ultrasound program and earn a passing score on the ARDMS SPI Exam.
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Ultrasound technicians, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, operate special imaging equipment to create images of patients’ internal organs. These images are used by physicians to help diagnose and treat medical conditions.
While most ultrasound technicians work in hospitals, some also find employment in outpatient facilities, imaging centers, and doctor’s offices. Those who specialize in a particular area of the body may work closely with a specific type of physician, such as an OB/GYN or cardiologist. Some ultrasound technicians may also teach in training programs or conduct research.
What is an Ultrasound Technician?
An ultrasound technician also called a diagnostic medical sonographer is a health care professional who uses special equipment to create images of internal body structures. These images are then used by physicians to diagnose and treat patients.
Ultrasound technicians typically work in hospitals, but may also work in outpatient centers, private physician offices, or research facilities. Most ultrasound technicians work full time, and some positions may require evening or weekend hours.
Steps to Becoming an Ultrasound Technician
The best way to become an ultrasound technician is to complete a certificate, diploma, or degree program in diagnostic medical sonography. Once you have completed an accredited program, you will need to obtain certification from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). After you have completed these steps, you will be able to find employment as an ultrasound technician.
Step One: Research
Take some time to research the field of ultrasound technology This field is expected to grow by about 44% in the next ten years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so now is a great time to begin a career as an ultrasound technician! Field experience is very important in this profession. Consider volunteering or interning in a hospital or clinic that performs diagnostic imaging procedures. This will give you a chance to see if you are suited for this type of work, and you will also be able to make important contacts within the medical community.
Step Two: Get a Degree
Most ultrasound technician schools offer a two-year associate degree, but four-year bachelor’s degree programs are also available. You can even find some online programs, although most include some on-campus requirements such as labs. Most hospitals prefer to hire ultrasound technicians who have at least an associate degree, and many employers will pay for their employees to complete a four-year degree if they so choose.
Step Three: Get Certified
After you have completed an accredited ultrasound technician program and gained the required supervised clinical experience, you will be eligible to sit for the national examination administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Once you have passed the examination, you will earn the credential of Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS). You will need to maintain your credential by completing continuing education credits on a regular basis.
Step Four: Consider Furthering Your Education
While certification and licensure are not required in all states, many employers prefer or require their ultrasound technicians to be certified. Certification demonstrates to potential employers that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to perform the job. In addition, some insurance companies will only reimburse for services performed by certified technicians. To qualify for certification, you must graduate from an accredited ultrasound program and pass an exam administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).
What to Expect After Becoming an Ultrasound Technician
After you become an ultrasound technician, you can expect to find work in a variety of settings. Many hospitals have their own diagnostic imaging departments, which employ ultrasound techs to perform diagnostic procedures on patients. There are also outpatient facilities that provide diagnostic imaging services, as well as private medical practices. Some ultrasound techs even choose to work in mobile units that travel to different locations to provide diagnostic services.
As an ultrasound technician, you will be responsible for operating the ultrasound machine and performing the procedures on patients. You will also be responsible for keeping accurate records of your findings and providing those reports to the physician who ordered the procedure. In some cases, you may be asked to provide patient education on what to expect during and after the procedure.
After completing the necessary education and training, ultrasound technicians can sit for the credentials offered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Although not required, certification may offer some advantages in the job market. Employers may prefer or require certification, and some states regulate the profession. There are also a number of professional organizations that offer ultrasound technicians opportunities for networking and continuing education.