Get the information you need on how to become an ultrasound technician. Learn about the training, job outlook and salary information for this exciting career.
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What is an Ultrasound Technician?
An ultrasound technician is a medical professional who uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the inside of the human body. These images are then used by physicians to diagnose and treat various medical conditions.
Ultrasound technicians typically work in hospitals, clinics, or private offices. They may also be employed in research facilities or educational institutions. In some cases, they may even work in industrial settings, such as factories or food-processing plants.
Becoming an ultrasound technician requires completing a formal education program and passing a certification exam. Some states also have regulatory requirements that must be met before someone can practice as an ultrasound technician.
What are the requirements to become an Ultrasound Technician?
Ultrasound technicians, also called diagnostic medical sonographers, use special equipment to create images or conduct tests. The majority of states regulate the profession, requiring ultrasound technicians to earn a credential from an accredited program and pass a credentialing exam. Some states may also require licensure. Learn more about the requirements to become an ultrasound technician.
You can enter the field of diagnostic medical sonography with either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in the field. Many community colleges offer two-year programs that lead to an associate’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography, and some four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degree programs in this field as well. A bachelor’s degree will give you a more comprehensive education and may make you eligible for more advanced positions, but an associate’s degree will qualify you for many entry-level positions.
All 50 states require diagnostic medical sonographers to be licensed or registered. Although licensure and registration requirements vary, most include completing an accredited education program and passing a credentialing exam.
The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) is the primary credentialing organization for sonographers. To earn the Registered diagnostic medical sonographer (RDMS) credential, candidates must pass exams in ultrasound physics and one or more of the following clinical areas: abdominal sonography, breast sonography, fetal echocardiography, obstetric and gynecologic sonography, or pediatrics sonography. Candidates must also have completed an accredited diagnostic medical sonography education program or have 1 year of full-time work experience as a sonographer.
Some states have additional requirements for licensure, such as passing a criminal background check.
In order to work as an ultrasound technician, you will need to be licensed in the state where you plan to practice. The licensure process usually involves completing an accredited ultrasound program and passing a national exam. Some states may have additional requirements, such as passing a state-specific exam. Once you are licensed, you will need to renew your license every few years and complete continuing education courses to stay up-to-date on the latest technology and techniques.
What are the duties of an Ultrasound Technician?
An ultrasound technician, also called a diagnostic medical sonographer, uses special equipment to direct sound waves into a patient’s body. The machine then collects the echoes as they bounce back and creates a picture, called a sonogram, of the inside of the patient’s body. Ultrasound technicians often specialize in a particular area of medicine, such as obstetrics (pregnancy) or cardiology (heart health).
Ultrasound technicians typically have an associate degree in diagnostic medical sonography from an accredited program. Some community colleges offer these programs, which usually take two years to complete. Alternatively, some hospitals offer one-year certificate programs for those who already have a health-related associate degree. Once they complete their formal education, ultrasound technicians must obtain certification from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Most states regulate ultrasound technicians and may require them to obtain a license.
Ultrasound technicians typically work in hospitals or outpatient clinics. They may work independently or as part of a team of healthcare professionals. They typically work full time, but may work evenings or weekends if necessary. Some ultrasound techs travel to different locations to provide services.
The duties of an ultrasound technician vary depending on his or her specialty area. However, all ultrasound techs are responsible for cleaning and maintaining their equipment, keeping accurate records, and communicating the results of the sonograms to physicians and other members of the healthcare team.
What are the ultrasound specialties?
There are two main types of ultrasound: diagnostic ultrasound and therapeutic ultrasound. Diagnostic ultrasound is used to assess the health of organs and structures inside the body, while therapeutic ultrasound is used to treat certain conditions.
There are a number of different ultrasound specialties, each with its own unique focus. Here are some of the most common:
Cardiovascular ultrasonography: This specialty focuses on the heart and blood vessels. Cardiovascular Ultrasound Technicians use diagnostic ultrasound to identify conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and aneurysms. They may also use therapeutic ultrasound to treat conditions such as blood clots and blocked arteries.
OB/GYN ultrasonography: This specialty focuses on the female reproductive system. OB/GYN Ultrasound Technicians use diagnostic ultrasound to assess the health of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. They may also use therapeutic ultrasound to treat conditions such as uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts.
Neurosonography: This specialty focuses on the brain and nervous system. Neurosonography Technicians use diagnostic ultrasound to assess conditions such as brain tumors, cerebral palsy, and dementia. They may also use therapeutic ultrasound to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Vascular ultrasonography: This specialty focuses on the veins and arteries . Vascular Ultrasound Technicians use diagnostic ultrasound to identify conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and peripheral artery disease (PAD). They may also use therapeutic ultrasound to treat conditions such as blockages in veins or arteries.
What is the job outlook for Ultrasound Technicians?
The job outlook for ultrasound technicians is very positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in this field will grow by 24 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is due to the increasing use of ultrasound technology in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.