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Requirements to Become an Ultrasound Technician

Job Descriptions January 3, 2013

An ultrasound technician, also referred to as an ultra-sonography technician, assists in the determination of the medical condition of a patient by using diagnosis imaging for the purpose. Ultrasound, which obstetricians frequently rely on as a diagnostic tool, is also useful in diagnosing other a patient’s medical condition in other medical areas. In this article, we will look at the career path of an ultrasound technician and discuss what an aspiring ultrasound technician must do in order to pursue their career.

Job Profile

The duties performed by Ultrasound technicians, also referred to as sonographers or diagnostic medical sonographers, produce results that are similar to those of other medical imaging techniques used for diagnosis, such as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and x-rays. However, sonography is dissimilar from other imaging methods in that it relies on the use of reflected sound waves in creating an image of the internal parts of a patient’s body. When doctors view fetuses during pregnancy; they rely on ultrasound to achieve such viewing.

Ultrasound technicians receive training through the operation of ultrasound equipment and in identifying abnormal problem areas in images. They have to ensure that there is sufficient clarity in images, so a doctor or other medical staff does not have difficulty in making accurate diagnoses. An ultrasound technician’s responsibilities could also include obtaining measurements, performing calculations and evaluating results.

Educational Prerequisites

An ultrasound technician can choose to receive military training; alternatively, they can enroll into a formal education program. There are several associate degree programs offered, apart from bachelor degree programs and one-year certificate programs at a few universities, vocational/ technical schools and community colleges. Coursework usually covers topics such as obstetrics, pathophysiology, ultrasound equipment, and human anatomy. Additionally, students are required to undergo clinical training programs conducted at designated hospitals. Certification is awarded by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) and clinical training is mandatory for an ultrasound technician seeking to pass the certification exam conducted by the ARDMS.

Certification Norms

While it is not compulsory for ultrasound technicians seeking jobs to obtain state certification or registration, many employers prefer such certification that serves to underscore their professional credentials. As already stated above, diagnostic medical sonographer may obtain registration or certification by taking a certification exam conducted by the ARDMS. Certification is offered by the ARDMS in various specialty areas such as vascular, abdomen and breast sonography. Once certified, sonographers are expected to maintain certification through participation in continuing education.

Job & Wage Potential

An encouraging job growth rate of eighteen percent has been projected for ultrasound technicians during the decade from 2008 to 2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov)). An increased demand for diagnostic imaging is expected to emerge, and the high growth rate is based on this expectation. Additionally, an increasing number of health care providers are opting for ultrasound imaging over radiology as they perceive ultrasound imaging to be safer and more economical. In May 2010, diagnostic medical sonographers earned an average annual salary of $64,900.

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