One of the fastest ways to get into a medical career, without a lot of schooling, is by becoming an ultrasound technician. These professionals provide evidence to a doctor of what is inside a person’s body using images and measurements, so that the doctor can examine it and make a diagnosis.
Ultrasound Technician Job Description
Ultrasound technicians, also sometimes called diagnostic medical sonographers, use high powered equipment to send different forms of sound waves through a person’s body in order to create an echo image for diagnostic purposes.
Unlike traditional x-rays and imaging techniques such as MRI and CT scans, ultrasound does not use ionizing or radiation waves, so it is not deemed to be dangerous and, for that reason, is commonly used to view fetuses during pregnancy.
Although ultrasound technicians may be trained at reading the images they create, they are not typically allowed to make a diagnosis themselves, but simply provide the images for the doctor. Even when patients have questions, ultrasound technicians must be skilled at communicating in order to make their patients feel at ease so the images come out clearly, but without communicating anything that would make a patient jump to conclusions about a diagnosis.
Ultrasound techs can work in hospitals, including in emergency rooms, or they can work in clinical settings or outpatient care centers, examining a patient after a surgery for instance, or they can work in specialized offices such as a gynecologist’s office, or a children’s clinic.
Salary of an Ultrasound Technician
Below are the median annual salaries for ultrasound technicians in major metropolitan cities:
Requirements for Becoming an Ultrasound Technician
At a minimum, you will need to earn a diploma in Ultrasound Technology / Diagnostic Medical Sonography from a reputable school in order to enter this career.
The American Institute College of Health Professions offers a diploma and degree program in Ultrasound Technology. For the Bachelor’s degree, you must be able to transfer in 90 quarter credits of general education. Then, you would earn an additional 95 quarter credits in about 18 months. According to the school’s catalog, tuition cost is between $32,000 for an Associates, and $33,400 for the Bachelors. Learn about different options for financial aid.
A two-year, or 90 week associate degree at the Institute of Allied Medical Professions includes some general education, but curriculum is general and includes instruction for examining different body parts and different patients, such as children as opposed to only adults. Students also have to take 1530 hours of clinical training within an approved clinical education center, in order to get workplace training.
In addition to education, many employers would be more likely to hire someone who has a form of national certification. The tuition at the American Institute College of Health Professions includes the cost of taking one of the registry tests.
The most common certification is provided by The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) who certifies each person who passes a six-section exam testing basic physical principles and instrumentation knowledge as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS). If you wish you to specialize in a certain area of the body, the credential is provided for different areas, but you must pass the specialization test within five years of getting the RDMS certificate.
Employers, especially in hospitals or large clinics, also want to hire someone who has a Basic Life Support for healthcare providers certification from the American Heart Association. The course can be taken online or you can find a 4 and 1/2 hour class near you.
Read on to find out what to consider when choosing an ultrasound technician position for your career.