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Ultrasound Technician

An Ultrasound Technician is also called a sonographer, an ultra sonographer or a radiographer. The education requires a degree or certification specializing in medical sonography. They specialize in utilizing medical equipment to direct sound waves through a patient's body to diagnose specific medical issues. The most common tool used is the transducer that scans anatomical images. An ultrasound technician is required to interpret the diagnostic data. An ultrasound technician requires specialized medical education, training and licensing through accredited professional certified agencies. The profession is divided into specialties, cardiac, obstetrical, gynecological, neuro, breast and vascular. They work in hospitals, clinics, physicians offices, nursing homes, medical laboratories, home care providers, out patient care and diagnostic imaging centers.

Career Prospects

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "employment of diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists, is projected to grow 24 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. As imaging technology evolves, medical facilities will continue to use ultrasound to replace more invasive, costly procedures."

Job Description

An associates degree in medical sonography, a bachelor's degree in medical sonography or certified program specializing in medical sonography. Courses include ultrasound imaging, pathology, anatomy, physiology, patient care, physics, medical ethics. An accredited program typically requires 1,000 clinical hours for their students.

To obtain a license/certification, two exams are required through American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS)or through American Registry of Radiologic Technologist (ARRT)

An ultrasound technician specializes with producing diagnostic images, scans and 3D images of the interior of a patient's body and interpreting the diagnostic data. They perform procedures and tests directed by medical doctors. They work with doctors to help determine medical problems and track health issues.

Ultrasound technicians must have good interpersonal skills and maintain a professional and a friendly demeanor when working with patients especially ones who may be anxious, nervous and under duress during the procedure. Some procedures performed may be in intimate areas of the body, and patients maybe uncomfortable. Because technicians cannot advise patients of their condition, diagnosis or treatment, they must be able to remain neutral with their patients. Strength and stamina are also needed in lifting patients or repositioning patients during the procedure.

Specialties in Ultrasound

  • Obstetric and gynecological sonography: This specialty includes examination of pregnancies/fetus and female reproductive system including ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus.
  • Abdominal sonography: This specialty includes examination of kidneys, spleen, pancreas and male reproductive system.
  • Neuro sonography: This specialty includes the examination of the brain and central nervous system. It is a non-evasive technique for intracranial assessment.
  • Breast sonography: This specialty includes examination of breast and chest; typically used in detecting breast cancer.
  • Cardiac sonography: This specialty includes the examination of the heart chambers, valves, and vessels.
  • Vascular sonography: This specialty includes the examination of veins and arteries.
  • An ultrasound technician with several specialty certifications have more opportunities and are most desired in this industry. There are many opportunities for advancement in this field, especially with the education and specialties in ultrasound. Technicians can expand their skills in becoming an educator, work in management or work in administrator roles. There are also opportunities in the corporate level such as sales or in manufacturing of ultrasound equipment.

    Ultrasound technicians are required to maintain with the current trends of medical imaging and education. It's earning potential is high and the job position is in high demand in the medical industry.

    Important Ultrasound Technician Certifications

    Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Certificate

    The RDMS credential ensures a high standard of diagnostic medical ultrasound practice worldwide and promotes best practices for enhanced patient safety. The RDMS credential is designed to certify competence in the field of diagnostic medical sonography.

    Registered Vascular Technologist Credential

    The RVT credential assesses the competency needed to perform a vascular sonography scan. To earn a Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT) credential, you must pass the Sonography Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) examination and the VT examination within five years. After passing the SPI examination, you can earn additional credentials without having to retake the SPI examination, provided you maintain active status.

    How Much Does a Trained Ultrasound Tech Make?

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015, ultrasound technician salary was $30.90 per hour or $64,280 per year. Many technicians maximize their income by working longer hours during peak seasons. As with any occupation, ultrasound technician salary is dependent on the job, employer location, level of experience, and whether or not a union is involved. Ultrasound tech salary is usually implemented in the form of hourly wages, which will increase based on skill level, knowledge, and experience.