How to Become an Ultrasound Technician
Ultrasound technicians are involved in the use of ultrasound technology. This is an imaging technique that is often used in medicine for a variety of purposes. It creates viewable still or moving video images of areas of the human body by sending high frequency sound waves toward it and receiving the echoes or reflections. Ultrasound technicians, also known as sonographers, employ, repair, and adjust ultrasound equipment. They assist doctors to interpret ultrasound images so that they can make accurate diagnoses. But how does somebody become an ultrasound technician? The following is a quick guide to getting involved in this interesting and potentially quite lucrative field.
Getting Trained in Ultrasound
The first step to becoming an ultrasound technician is to get educated and trained in the field. Sonography equipment is sophisticated and medical professionals won’t let just anybody use it. The people responsible for the use of ultrasound need to know what they’re doing. They must understand both the way the equipment works from a technological perspective and how it is used in arriving at medical diagnoses. There is quite a lot involved in this.
The following are some common educational paths to take in getting trained as an ultrasonographer:
Community or Junior College
Community colleges and junior colleges offer degrees in ultrasound technology. These degrees are usually Associates (i.e. 2 year) degrees. These degrees often focus exclusively on ultrasound or else include ultrasound with other medical imaging modalities such as radiologic imaging or electrocardiography.
Technical/ Vocational/ or Career Schools
Technical and vocational schools also offer training in ultrasound. These schools also usually offer Associate’s degrees. This is a popular route into the field of ultrasound. These vocational institutions often have very focused programs that allow students to get immersed in the sonography field within the course of the curriculum.
Some of these schools offer shorter programs such as 1 year programs resulting in a certificate rather than a degree. While not as high a credential as an Associate or Bachelor’s degree, these certificates are often enough to qualify an individual for employment in ultrasound work.
4 Year Colleges and Universities
Ordinary four year academic colleges often offer sonography and medical imaging Bachelor’s degrees. These degrees often cover more than ultrasound and get into other types of medical imaging techniques. These degrees are especially recommended for those who want to branch out and expand their medical imaging careers.
Many hospitals offer their own ultrasound programs. These can be a good option because often the hospital that trains an individual will offer them employment after completion of the program. Hospitals also offer an authentic environment in which to learn sonography and become familiar with the flow of work at a hospital.
One nice thing about this field is that there is no certification/licensing requirement in order to be hired. Not legally speaking anyway. However it is a good idea to take and pass a certification exam given by a professional organization such as The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Those successfully completing this exam are given the title Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS). Though certification is optional it can definitely help in getting a job.
Once you’ve been trained and possibly certified in ultrasound, the next step to becoming an ultrasound technician is, of course, to get a job. Your best bet here is simply to apply to a lot of different establishments. Make a large list of potential employers looking for ultrasound personnel and set up interviews with them.
Some types of institutions that may need ultrasound employees include:
- Private Physician Practices
- Medical Laboratories
- Nursing Homes/Outpatient Care
- Home Care Providers
The listings for these types of establishments can be found in the usual media – newspapers, medical industry magazines, and on widely the internet. The latter has a lot of specialty employment websites that deal specifically with careers in the medical field. They often allow users to browse by the type of medical/allied health work they would like to do.
That, in brief, is essentially how to become an ultrasound technician. If this is a career that interests you get going on it. You can expect high job demand, good pay, and the satisfaction of helping people.
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