If you’re wondering how to become an ultrasound technician you’re in the right place. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know, from the education and training required to the different specialties you can pursue. By the end, you’ll have a good sense of whether this career is right for you.
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If you’re interested in a career in ultrasound technology you may be wondering how to become an ultrasound technician. It’s a great career choice for people who are interested in working in the medical field but don’t want to go through the years of schooling required to become a doctor or nurse. Ultrasound technicians use special equipment to take pictures of patients’ internal organs, which are then used by doctors to diagnose and treat medical conditions.
Becoming an ultrasound technician usually requires completing an accredited training program, which can be done at many community colleges and technical schools. Some programs may require that you have completed some college coursework before enrolling, but others may allow you to enroll without any prior college experience. Once you complete your training, you will likely need to pass a licensing exam in order to start working as an ultrasound technician.
What is an Ultrasound Technician?
An ultrasound technician, also called a diagnostic medical sonographer is a trained professional who uses special equipment to create images (sonograms) of the inside of the body. These images are used by physicians to help diagnose and treat medical conditions.
Ultrasound technology has been used for decades and is a safe, noninvasive way to create images of the inside of the body. Ultrasound technicians use sophisticated equipment that emits sound waves that bounce off organs and tissues. The echoes are then converted into electrical impulses that are displayed on a monitor as images.
The Steps to Becoming an Ultrasound Technician
Before becoming an ultrasound technician, you must complete a nationally accredited education program and pass a certification exam. Once you have completed these steps, you will be qualified to work as an ultrasound technician. Let’s get into the details.
Step One: Research
The first step in becoming an ultrasound technician is conducting research on the profession. Many people are not aware of what an ultrasound technician does or the steps necessary to become one. By researching the profession, you will be able to determine if becoming an ultrasound technician is the right career choice for you. You can conduct your research by talking to ultrasound technicians, reading books or articles about the profession, or searching the internet for information.
Once you have decided that becoming an ultrasound technician is the right career choice for you, you need to research the different schools that offer ultrasound technician programs There are many schools that offer this type of program, but not all of them are created equal. You need to find a school that is accredited and offers a quality program. Once you have found a few schools that meet your criteria, you need to compare their programs to find the one that is right for you.
Step Two: Ultrasound Technician Training Programs
The second step in becoming an ultrasound technician is completing an accredited training program. Training programs typically last between one and four years, depending on whether you choose to earn an associates degree or a bachelors degree. During your training, you will take courses such as human anatomy, medical terminology, patient care, and ethics. You will also spend time completing clinical rotations in real medical settings such as hospitals and clinics. Once you have completed your training program, you will be eligible to take the certification exam and become a certified ultrasound technician.
Step Three: Certification and Licensure
The third step in becoming an ultrasound technician is passing the certification exam and obtaining licensure (if required in your state). Certification is not required in all states, but most employers prefer to hire certified technicians. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) offers two certification exams for ultrasound technicians-the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) exam and the Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) exam. To be eligible to take either exam, you must have completed an accredited training program and met other requirements set forth by the ARDMS. Once you have passed one of these exams, you will be able to use the credentials “RDMS” or “RDCS” after your name. In some states, licensure may also be required in order to practice as an ultrasound technician.
Step Two: Prerequisite Coursework
While you may be able to find a position that will on-the-job training, many employers prefer or require candidates to have completed formal education and hands-on training through an accredited ultrasound technician program. Depending on the level of program you choose to enter, you can earn a certificate, diploma, or degree in diagnostic medical sonography.
You will likely need to complete prerequisite coursework prior to being accepted into an accredited ultrasound technician program. These may include classes in anatomy and physiology, algebra, and technical writing.
It is important that you complete your prerequisite coursework at an accredited college or university; otherwise, your credits may not transfer into the ultrasound technician program of your choice.
Step Three: Complete an Accredited Training Program
Training to become an ultrasound technician can take as little as two years, but most programs are four-year bachelor’s degree programs. There are many accredited schools across the country that offer training in diagnostic medical sonography. Accredited programs will have been evaluated by an external agency and been determined to meet certain standards. While attending an accredited program is not required, it may make it easier to sit for the ARDMS certification exam or to find a job after graduation.
There are two main types of accredited training programs:
Associate’s degree programs typically take two years to complete and offer instruction in both didactic and clinical coursework. Students in these programs will spend time in classrooms learning about human anatomy, medical terminology, and the physics of sound waves before moving on to clinical rotations.
Bachelor’s degree programs usually take four years to complete and offer more comprehensive instruction in both didactic and clinical coursework than associate’s degree programs. These programs also typically include additional coursework in liberal arts subjects.
Step Four: Obtain Certification
Upon successful completion of an accredited program, graduates are eligible to take the certification examination offered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). To be eligible to take the ARDMS examination, candidates must have completed a diagnostic medical sonography program that has been accredited by CAAHEP or ABHES. Certain examinations have prerequisites that must be met before taking the exam. For example, to take the RDMS abdominal sonography examination, candidates must first successfully complete the RDMS general physics and instrumentation examination. There is no time limit for completing all examinations leading to certification, but most candidates complete all examinations within two years of passing their initial RDMS general physics and instrumentation examination.
Step Five: Maintain Certification
Maintaining certification is important to show that you are still competent in your field and up-to-date on the latest technology. Many organizations require continuing education units (CEUs) to renew certification. Most registries offer free or discounted CEUs to members. You can also find a variety of CEU opportunities online, through ultrasound conventions, and in hospitals or clinics.
What to Expect After You Become an Ultrasound Technician
After you become an ultrasound technician, you can expect to have a very rewarding career. You will be able to help people and make a difference in their lives. You will also be able to work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and even private practices.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of diagnostic medical sonographers is projected to grow 24 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. The bureau stated that the growth is due in part to an aging population and an increase in associated health problems that require diagnostic imaging.
Salary and Career Outlook
As an ultrasound technician, you can expect to earn a good salary and have excellent job prospects. The median salary for an ultrasound technician is $74,520 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the job outlook for this career is strong, with an expected growth rate of 22% from 2018 to 2028. This is much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.
In order to become an ultrasound technician, you will need to complete an accredited training program and obtain certification. Once you have gained experience, you may wish to pursue further education in order to move into a management position or specialize in a particular area of ultrasound.