Ultrasound technicians are growing throughout the United States, and with promising prospects for the future, high salaries, and the opportunity to help others.
Ultrasound technicians are responsible for using medical equipment to make and take internal images of the patient. One of the tasks they are most often involved in is creating images of the fetus to monitor its development.
They also capture images of breast tissue, abdomen, cardiovascular system, and muscle or connective tissue associated with the musculoskeletal system to help doctors diagnose disease or injury. As part of this process, they explain the imaging procedure to patients.
They should also be familiar with the equipment they use and be able to make adjustments if there are technical problems. They need computer skills to store data and keep records of patients.
What skills should I have as an ultrasound technician?
Ultrasound depends on the skill of the operator, which means that ultrasound techniques must be armed with a deep knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, as well as mastery of the technology itself. A high-quality ultrasound requires a well-trained operator who can position the patient correctly and record accurate images, distinguishing between normal and abnormal anatomy.
These specialists need to know how to keep a medical history to perform an ultrasound examination. And last but not least: they must be able to perform all these tasks in direct interaction with the patient.
What exactly does an ultrasound technician do?
During examinations, ultrasound techniques perform a variety of important duties. They have to choose and make the best images, take measurements, make calculations and even evaluate previous results. All this work during the examination directly helps doctors to make the correct diagnosis to begin successful treatment.
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Ultrasound technician Job description
Ultrasound work requires that candidates be able to perform duties that include the following:
- Prepare an examination room and ultrasound equipment for examinations. Assist radiologists with ultrasound biopsy and vascular procedures as needed.
- Recognize and record relevant anatomy and pathology using sonographic equipment
- Take proper care of the sonographic equipment and report equipment failure
- Write reports based on scan and completion results
- Inform appropriate medical personnel of any abnormalities that require immediate attention
- Use problem-solving and decision-making skills
- Work alone or with minimal supervision and as a team
- Manage multiple priorities and projects and be flexible in a fast-paced work environment
- Show good work ethic, friendly and cheerful nature
- Maintain the strictest levels of confidentiality
- Continue professional development to continuously improve patient care
Ultrasound Technician work environment
Approximately 60% of ultrasound technicians work in hospitals or in an inpatient setting in the diagnostic area, or by performing mobile ultrasound at the bedside of patients who cannot be transported. Hospital sonographers are often called once or twice a week and should be able to appear at any time of the day or night if an emergency ultrasound is needed.
Outside the hospital, there are many opportunities for experienced ultrasound technicians to work in private physicians’ offices and / or outpatient diagnostic clinics. There are many full-time opportunities, but one of the benefits of working as a specialist is the ability to find part-time and flexible working hours.
Ultrasound technicians spend a lot of time on their feet and in motion, a relief for those who do not want to work while sitting at a desk.
Benefits of being an Ultrasound Technician
- Easy route to job field
A two-year specialist degree is the most popular option for students undergoing ultrasound training, but if you have previous experience in the medical profession, you can complete the ultrasound certification program in about a year.
- Become part of an advanced career field
Although ultrasound is most often associated with pregnancy, ultrasound is used in more and more ways, which means good opportunities for future work.
- Earn a great salary
Your education in ultrasound techniques will prepare you to work with great pay potential. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of diagnostic medical sonographs is $ 75,920.
- Use your skills to help people
You will be preparing for a job where you can feel good. Being able to use your knowledge and skills to help people is a reward that exceeds your earnings.
- Many employment opportunities
A career in health care is one of the fastest growing jobs in the United States, and ultrasound is no exception. After completing your program, you will be ready to enter a career that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, will grow by 17% over the next 10 years.
Ultrasound Technician Salary
In the United States, the average salary of an ultrasound technician is about $ 76,000 a year. Those who are just starting their careers can expect to earn about $ 69,000 a year. With extensive experience, education, and specialization, you can earn up to $ 84,000 a year as an ultrasound technician.
Technicians working in small offices or private practices may earn less than those working in larger hospitals or clinics. Doctors and patients are always looking for new and innovative ways to use ultrasound, so when you have career experience and knowledge, it is likely that you will make more money.
How to become an ultrasound technician
• Get the necessary education
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that ultrasound diagnostic techniques require an associate professor or bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography. Some schools also offer training in the form of short-term certificate programs for current health professionals with a degree in another field who wish to undergo additional training.
No matter what your educational background, it is important to choose a program that is accredited by the Alliance’s Health Program Accreditation Commission (CAAHEP). Completion of a program with this designation is often a prerequisite for licensing or certification and ensures that the school’s curriculum meets the approved course of study.
Topics of study for these programs often include anatomy, ethics, patient care procedures, and equipment operation. You can also study a special area such as obstetric, breast, heart and abdominal ultrasound.
• Carry out certification or licensing
Although certification is not strictly required in the field of diagnostic medical sonography, BLS reports that employers often prefer job candidates who have been certified through a nationally recognized professional agency.
In the few states that license or register ultrasound technicians, applicants typically need to have a certificate from ARDMS. Certification from institutions such as Cardiac Credentialing International (CCI) or the American Registry of Radiological Technologists (ARRT) may also be sufficient.
• Find a job
According to the BLS, ultrasound technicians can find work in hospitals, clinics and public health facilities, although most new employment opportunities are expected in diagnostic laboratories and doctors’ offices.
In general, the employment growth of diagnostic medical ultrasound scanners is projected to increase by 19% between 2018 and 2028. While hospitals and other health care facilities may offer online employment opportunities, you may also attend career fairs or contact human resources departments at hospitals.
• Follow the requirements for continuing education
To support certification – and licensing or registration in states that require it – ultrasound technicians must meet the requirements for continuing education. ARDMS certificates are valid for ten years, and ultrasound technicians must complete 30 hours of continuing education over the past three years to renew their credentials.
Renewal of ARRT certificates requires 24 continuing education credits over a 2-year period, although applicants may also be eligible for renewal by obtaining additional certification. Ultrasound diagnostics technicians who have a CCI certificate must earn 16 to 36 hours of credit every three years.
• Explore opportunities for promotion
Gaining work experience, you can consider employment opportunities in research and management. In addition, some junior colleges accept a bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography as sufficient education to teach in the field.
If you decide to get a certificate in more than one specialty, your marketability may improve. BLS expects that the best job prospects will be reserved for ultrasound technicians, who have many powers.
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Ultrasound technician schools near me
• University of Colorado at Denver
In Anschutz Medical Campus at the University of Colorado at Denver, the Department of Radiology offers a highly selective medical sonography certification program. Each year, approximately six students are selected from a group of 40 to 60 applicants to complete the 12-month program. The program includes classroom and clinical training.
Prior to admission, students must have either an associate degree in a two-year related health program or a bachelor’s degree in science or medicine. Direct patient care experience and documentary observation in the field of ultrasound are also highly valued in the application process.
• Harper College
Located in Palatine, Illinois, Harper College’s medical sonography training program is suitable for those students who do not have the necessary prerequisites to participate in the above certification programs. Courses include ultrasound physics and instruments, sonography theory, and health technology and computer science.
This coursework helps prepare students for the American Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) certification exams in general or cardiac sonography, depending on their chosen path.
• University of Nebraska Medical Center
The School of Related Medical Professions, located on the campus of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, offers students the opportunity to obtain either a professional certificate after graduation or a bachelor’s degree in radiation technology after graduation.
Graduates are also eligible to take the ARDMS certification exams in any of the following areas: sonographic principles and instruments, abdominal cavity, obstetrics and gynecology, and sonography for children.
• Mayo Clinic
At its campuses in Rochester, Minnesota, and Jacksonville, Florida, the internationally recognized Mayo Clinic offers training in diagnostic medical sonography. The program lasts 21 months.
Students can choose to receive a certificate of completion from the Mayo School of Medical Sciences or a bachelor’s degree in health care (BSHP) in collaboration with the University of Minnesota, Rochester. Class sizes are limited to 12 students, and this program boasts a 100 percent first-time folding speed.
• University of Seattle
The University of Seattle is one of the few programs that offers a bachelor’s degree specifically in diagnostic ultrasound. The program includes a fundamental scientific foundation, followed by courses and clinical training focused on ultrasound.
Applicants may enter the program as freshmen who have a high school diploma or GED, or may choose to transition later in their academic careers. Students in this program enjoy a student-to-faculty ratio of 8: 1 and offer more than 100 clinical internship settings nationwide for students to gain hands-on experience.