The path to a stable, stimulating, and extremely lucrative career as an ultrasound technician is simpler than you may think– read this short guide today to figure out all of the necessary steps to become a licensed healthcare professional of tomorrow!
The main reason to consider a future as an ultrasound tech is the simple formula of supply and demand: according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for ultrasound technicians is expected to grow by 19% by 2018, outpacing almost any other profession! An increase in demand mandates an increase in supply– that’s where you come in. By training for a career as an ultrasound tech now, you will be eligible for work when the need for your skills is highest. That means there will be ample job opportunities and handsome compensation readily available. The median salary of ultrasound technologists is $64,380.
What is an Ultrasound Technician?
Ultrasound machines use high frequency sound waves that bounce off of soft bodily issues to create images that would otherwise be unavailable to physicians. Technicians must learn to identify whether or not their scans are satisfactory to pass along to a physician, who will use the images to diagnose and treat patients. Ultrasound technology is also used to track pregnancies and enhance prenatal care.
In addition to their technical role, ultrasound technologists must interact with patients to ensure their comfort and safety. Technicians are responsible for explaining procedures to patients in full before they are carried out as well as positioning patients correctly to receive scans. The ideal ultrasound technologist will be sensitive to patients’ concerns and learn to create an atmosphere of ease.
How I Become an Ultrasound Technician?
Ultrasound techs need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to practice and training from an accredited scholastic program– it is increasingly more difficult to obtain work without formal certification. Therefore, it is highly advisable to select and complete an ultrasound technician CAAHEP accredited education program offered at vocational schools, hospitals, colleges, or online schools. All accredited programs can be found at the Joint Review committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs.
There are three common educational paths that prospective ultrasound tech students take:
1) The Associate’s degree– this is the preferred option and requires two years to complete.
2) The certificate program– this is the fastest option and takes about a year to complete.
3) The Bachelor’s degree– the longest and most comprehensive option. Typically can be completed in four years.
Regardless of what educational course you pursue, you will complete a registration exam conducted by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Upon passing the examination you will acquire the “more marketable” title of a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) and be eligible to seek long-term and highly remunerative employment. Ultrasound technicians are most often employed by hospitals, but may also find opportunities in third-party imaging facilities, and physicians’ offices. Medical fields of gynecology, obstetrics, and neurology depend heavily on the expertise of ultrasound technicians, and the vast applications of ultrasound technology are continuing to grow. Most ultrasound procedures are schedule during regular business hours, but hospitals may employ technologists in the ER for emergency situations that occur 24 hours a day.
Beside enjoying a high baseline salary, ranging from $44,900 – $88,490, ultrasound technologists also have the fortuitous ability for career advancement. Some technicians can transition into alternative medical imaging specialization (i.e., CT and/or MRI scans) either through continued education classes or on-the-job-training. Other options for upward mobility are administrative or managerial vocations.