- General Information
- Becoming an Ultrasound Technician
- Maintaining Certification
It takes more than just a passing interest in medical technology to become an ultrasound technician If you’re thinking of making a career in this field, here’s what you need to know.
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Ultrasound technicians, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, use special equipment to create images of patients’ internal organs and blood flow. The images produced are used by physicians to help diagnose and treat patients.
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 various parts of the human body. These images are then used by physicians to help diagnose and treat patients.
Ultrasound Technician training programs typically last from one to four years, depending on the level of education you wish to achieve. Most programs will lead to an Associate’s degree, although some may offer a certificate or diploma. After completing your training, you will be required to obtain a license in order to practice.
What are the Education Requirements?
The successful completion of an accredited diagnostic medical sonography program is the primary educational requirement to become an ultrasound technician. There are several avenues that can lead to meeting this requirement.
An associate’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography is the most common path. These programs typically take two years to complete. Admission into these programs is often competitive, and prerequisite coursework in mathematics and science is typically required.
Many ultrasound technicians elect to earn a bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography. These four-year programs are less common than associate’s degree programs, but they may offer certain advantages. For example, they may provide a more comprehensive education, greater opportunity for specialization, and better career prospects.
Another option is to complete a certificate program in diagnostic medical sonography. These one- or two-year programs typically lead to an Associate of Applied Science degree. Certificate programs may be a good option for individuals who already have a college degree in another field and want to make a career change.
What are the Job Duties?
An ultrasound technician, or sonographer, is a health professional who uses diagnostic imaging to aid physicians in the treatment of patients. Ultrasound refers to sound waves with a frequency above the range of human hearing. This high-frequency sound waves are then used to produce images of the inside of the body.
Ultrasound technician job duties may include but are not limited to:
-Operating diagnostic imaging equipment
-Performing and communicating results of diagnostic examinations using sonography
-Selecting and applying the appropriate transducer for each clinical patient examination
-Preparing room and equipment for examination
-Maintaining a clean and organized work environment
-Adhering to safety standards and infection control procedures
-Educating patients and families on exam procedures
What is the Salary Range?
In order to become an ultrasound technician, you will need to have at least an Associate’s degree from an accredited school. The average salary for those with this level of education is about $60,000 per year. If you have a Bachelor’s degree, you can expect to make closer to $70,000 per year.
Becoming an Ultrasound Technician
There are many steps that students must complete in order to become an ultrasound technician. The first step is to attend an accredited college or university and complete an accredited degree or diploma program in diagnostic medical sonography. Once students have graduated from their accredited program, they must then pass the ARDMS certification exam.
Step One: Complete an Accredited Program
The first step to becoming an ultrasound technician is to complete an accredited program. There are many accredited programs available, so it is important to do your research to find one that is right for you. Once you have found an accredited program, you will need to complete the required coursework and clinical training. Upon completion of your program, you will be eligible to take the national certification examination.
Step Two: Obtain Certification
While certification is not required in all states, it is becoming increasingly necessary to obtain professional certification in order to practice ultrasound technology According to the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), ultrasound tech salaries depend on certification and level of experience. The ARDMS offers two levels of certification: Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) and Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS). To become certified, candidates must pass a written exam and a skills practical exam. Once certified, technicians must renew their certification every four years by taking continuing education courses and passing a written examination.
Step Three: Consider Earning a specialty
While most ultrasound technicians are generalists, working in many different areas of the hospital or clinic, some specialize in a particular area. To become a specialist, you will need to complete additional training and may need to earn a higher degree. Common specialties include:
-Cardiovascular Ultrasound Technician
-OB/GYN Ultrasound Technician
-Pediatric Ultrasound Technician
-Vascular Ultrasound Technician
To maintain certification, ultrasound technicians must adhere to the standards set forth by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). These standards include completing continuing education credits and passing a recertification exam every few years.
Step One: Complete Continuing Education Credits
Credentialed ultrasound technicians are required to complete continuing education (CE) credits to maintain their certification. CE credits can be earned in a variety of ways, such as attending conferences, taking online courses, or participating in research studies. Most credentialing organizations require ultrasound technicians to complete a certain number of CE credits every year or every two years.
Step Two: Renew Certification Every Few Years
After being certified, most technicians must renew their certification every few years. The ARDMS offers a few different ways to renew certification, including continuing education credits, practicing ultrasound for a certain number of hours, or retaking and passing the ARDMS examination.
Step Three: Maintain Employment in the Field
To maintain certification, most governing organizations require continuing medical education (CME) credits. The number of credits required varies by organization, but is typically between 20 and 40 per year. Many employers will reimburse employees for the cost of CME courses, so it is important to check with your employer before enrolling in any courses. Additionally, some employers may require that their employees take a certain number of CME courses each year in order to maintain employment.