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Ultrasound Technician Certification Program Requirements

Majors Overview February 18, 2013

Research ultrasound technician undergraduate certificate, bachelor, and associate degree programs. Obtain information about salary, requirements, licensing options, and courses to make an informed decision on your education.

Diagnostic Ultrasound Technology – Associate Degree

The first step towards certification is an associate degree in diagnostic ultrasound technology. Schools usually offer associate degrees in this field; Associate of Arts, Associate of science or Associate of Applied Science, programs may fall under the Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Operation of diagnostic imaging equipment is learned by students; this equipment employs sound waves in taking internal photos of the bodies of patients. Physicians use these images in the diagnosis of health conditions, monitoring of fetal growth or studying internal body parts. Graduates may be allowed to take certification examinations.

Education Prerequisites

Admission to a college or university usually necessitates a general educational development (GED) or high school diploma; however, several programs offer alternative admission processes including completion of a placement test, for students without these credentials. Admission to the ultrasound program could require prerequisite coursework in medical terminology, intermediate algebra, physics, physiology, and anatomy.

Course Topic

It typically takes about two years to complete an associate degree program. During that time, students participate in supervised clinical experiences, laboratory training, and classroom learning, which take place in medical facilities. Several common classes include:

•Gynecological Sonography
•Sectional Anatomy
•Abdominal Sonography

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

A growth rate of forty-four percent has been projected for ultrasound technicians during the period from 2010 to 2020. The optimistic forecast is owed to the increasingly common use of non-invasive specialized ultrasound technology (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). In May 2011, an ultrasound technician earned an average annual salary of $65,800.

Certification and Licensure Information

Ultrasound technicians are required to obtain licensure in some states. Each state has its own licensing requirements, and to meet the requirements in some states; individuals need to acquire professional certification, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS states that employers typically prefer professional certification even though the states may not require licensure. Once students have completed an American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART) approved training program, meeting ethics and clinical requirements and passing an examination; they can earn certification from the AART. Beginning of 2015, all students are required to have at least an associate degree to qualify for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists certification.

Diagnostic Ultrasound Technology Bachelor Degree

Prospective ultrasound technicians can also launch their careers in the field by completing a bachelor degree program, usually offered as a Bachelor of Science, though some schools may use a different name, such as medical imaging technology or diagnostic ultrasound and radiologic science with a focus on sonography. As in the case of associate degree programs, students are taught imaging operations via classroom lectures and hands-on training.

Education Prerequisite

The requirements could vary by schools; however, admission to an ultrasound technology program usually requires a student to hold a GED or high school diploma. To enroll in some ultrasound diagnostic programs, students may have to possess an associate degree in a related field and either hold AART certification or be eligible for it. On the other hand, some programs allow freshmen to enroll provided they will complete specific courses within a time deadline as specified. Some programs specify courses to be completed before admission to the major.

Course Topic

Coursework can vary in accordance with a program, especially where admission to such a program requires students to hold an associate degree in a related major. Students may have to complete basic courses in physiology and anatomy, aside from math, physics and biology. Coursework topics could include:

•Issues in Medical Imaging Technology
•Ultrasound Physics
•Ultrasound Instrumentation
•Vascular Sonography
•Sectional Anatomy

Certificate in Ultrasound Technician

Although aspiring candidates without training or experience in ultrasound technology can enroll in many certificate programs, a majority of those programs are intended for those who have prior training in the field. Many programs focus on majors within the field such as vascular, echocardiography and abdomen; others impart foundational knowledge to those with experience or training in other healthcare fields.

Education Prerequisites

Education requirements can vary in accordance with the program, but most programs require applicants to hold at least a certificate or associate degree in the healthcare field. Certification in the specific focus area may also be required. Specific coursework may need to be completed by admission seekers, including physiology, anatomy, chemistry, physics, healthcare ethics, medical terminology and college-level math. Observation of diagnostic medical imaging practices at approved clinical settings may also be an admission criterion in some programs.

Course Topics

The program curriculum may vary depending on whether students concentrate on general sonography or a specific specialty. Clinical training is typically standard in these programs. Coursework could include:

•Cardiovascular Sonography
•Abdominal Sonography
•Sectional Anatomy
•Ultrasound Physics

Career Options

Ultrasound technicians are employed in various healthcare settings, such as imaging labs, doctors’ offices and hospitals. They may specialize in taking images of specific parts of the body. Ultrasound technicians may also be known as:

•Vascular Technologist
•Cardiovascular Technicians or Technologist
•Abdominal Sonographer
•Breast Ultrasound Technician

Certification Information

A variety of credentials in specialty areas, such as vascular technology, abdomen and breast are offered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. The Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer credential can be earned by individuals specializing in gynecology, obstetrics and/or neurosonology, fetal echocardiography, breast and abdomen. Qualification for the Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer credential requires ultrasound technicians to specialize in adult, pediatric and/or fetal echocardiography. Similarly, the Registered Vascular Technologist credential calls for a vascular technology specialty, and the Registered in Musculoskeletal credential can be gained by those with specialization in musculoskeletal sonography. The credentials can only be earned by individuals who have passed an examination and have sufficient clinical experience and education.

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