If you’re thinking about becoming an ultrasound technician you might be wondering how long it will take to complete your training and start working in the field. In this blog post, we’ll answer that question and give you an overview of the steps you’ll need to take to become an ultrasound tech
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How Long Does It Take to Be an Ultrasound Technician?
The typical route to becoming an ultrasound technician is to complete a two-year degree program at a community college or technical school. However, some four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in diagnostic medical sonography, which may lead to better job prospects.
Community college programs usually take two years to complete and include classroom instruction as well as clinical experience. During the clinical portion of the program, students will have the opportunity to work with patients and gain real-world experience.
Bachelor’s degree programs typically take four years to complete and include more advanced coursework than community college programs. These programs may also require students to complete a research project or thesis in order to graduate.
Once you have completed an accredited training program, you will then need to obtain certification from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). To be eligible for certification, you must pass an exam administered by the ARDMS. Once you are certified, you will need to renew your certification every two years by completing continuing education credits.
The Length of Time it Takes to Become an Ultrasound Technician Depends on Several Factors
Earn a high school diploma or equivalent. You may be able to find a job as an ultrasound technician with just a high school diploma but most employers prefer candidates who have at least some postsecondary education. If you know you want to work in the field of diagnostic medical sonography, you may want to consider a formal program at a community college or vocational school.
Complete an accredited diagnostic medical sonography program. These programs typically last two years and lead to an associate’s degree, although some schools offer four-year programs that result in a bachelor’s degree. During your training, you’ll take courses in biology, anatomy and physiology, physics and mathematics as well as receive hands-on training with ultrasound equipment.
Pass the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) exams. In order to be considered a licensed ultrasound technician, or registered diagnostic medical sonographer (RDMS), you must pass two exams administered by the ARDMS. The first exam tests your knowledge of sonographic physics and safety as well as abdominal sonography. The second exam tests your knowledge of OB/GYN sonography.
Apply for state licensure. Although not all states require licensure for ultrasound technicians, most do require certification from the ARDMS. Check with your state’s department of health to find out what requirements apply in your state.
The Most Important Factor in Determining How Long it Takes to Become an Ultrasound Technician is the Program You Choose
There are a number of different programs available to become an ultrasound technician, and the length of time it takes to complete one of these programs is the most important factor in determining how long it will take you to become an ultrasound technician. There are certificate programs that can be completed in as little as six months, but these programs generally do not offer the same level of education and training as an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree program.
If you enroll in a two-year Associate’s degree program, you can expect to spend approximately four years completing your education and training. If you enroll in a four-year Bachelor’s degree program, you can expect to spend approximately six years completing your education and training.
The length of time it takes to become an ultrasound technician also depends on your prior educational experience and whether you choose to attend classes full-time or part-time. If you already have a two- or four-year degree in another field, you may be able to complete an ultrasound technician program in less time than someone who does not have any prior college experience. Similarly, if you attend classes full-time, you will likely be able to complete your program more quickly than someone who attends classes part-time.
In general, the most important factor in determining how long it will take you to become an ultrasound technician is the specific program you choose. Certificate programs can be completed in as little as six months, while Associate’s degree and Bachelor’s degree programs generally take two years and four years to complete respectively. Prior educational experience and class attendance schedule can also affect the amount of time it takes to earn your degree or certificate.
Other Factors That Can Affect How Long it Takes to Become an Ultrasound Technician Include
License. In order to work as an ultrasound technician, you must obtain a license from the state in which you wish to practice. The requirements for licensure vary from state to state, but most states require graduation from an accredited ultrasound program and passage of a national exam.
Continuing education. Many employers require their ultrasound technicians to complete continuing education courses on a regular basis in order to keep up with the latest technology and developments in the field.
Work experience. Some employers may prefer candidates who have prior experience working in a healthcare setting, even if it is not specific to ultrasound technology
Once You Have Completed the Necessary Training, You Will Need to Pass the Certification Exam
Once you have completed the necessary training, you will need to pass the certification exam in order to become an ultrasound technician. The exam is administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).