Ultrasound Technician: A Complete Guide

Did you know that an ultrasound technician makes an average of $1,517 per week or $78,884 per year? By becoming one, you can even make upwards of $166,400 per year!

Of course, it all depends on your location, experience, and other factors. However, being an ultrasound technician isn’t all about the money.

Although you’ll be focusing on handling equipment, you’ll still be dealing with patients. Your ultimate goal is to provide healthcare by helping with diagnosis and treatments.

If you want to become an ultrasound technician, keep on reading to know all about this profession.

Duties of an Ultrasound Technician

An ultrasound technician operates special equipment. This emits high-frequency sound waves to look into the parts of the human body. This includes the abdomen, heart, blood vessels, reproductive system, and such.

Ultrasound technicians are a crucial member of a larger healthcare team. They help physicians and doctors in diagnosing illnesses.

With the help of high-tech images, they provide a bigger picture of the patients’ ailments. This is important because a sonogram is usually the first imaging test for detecting specific diseases.

An ultrasound technician has other duties than to operate equipment, though. For one, they must also then read the results of the sonogram and then write a report based on the results.

You must also have the following skills to become a good ultrasound technician:

  • Detail-oriented
  • Great stamina
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Good hand-eye coordination

You’ll be facing patients regularly, so you must at least know how to talk with them to put them at ease. They’ll be uncomfortable most times, but you need them to be calm to get accurate readings. You might also have to help lift patients around.

You need hand-eye coordination because you’ll need your eyes to focus on the screen. Meanwhile, you have to move the equipment around.

Although you’ll be working as a part of a team, you still have to be able to work alone or with minimal supervision. Of course, you must maintain an interest in the continual development of medical and patient care, especially within your field.

Specializations

You can pursue specializations in sonography, including:

  • Abdomen
  • Cardiac
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Gynecology
  • Vascular technology
  • Fetal echocardiography
  • Pediatric echocardiography

You should consider seeing a specific patient population, such as pediatrics and obstetrics. This will help you gain more targeted skills and experience.

Having a cardiac specialization, for example, means you’ll mostly deal with heart diseases, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S. For specializations, though, you’ll have to take exams, which we’ll cover below.

How to Become an Ultrasound Technician

An ultrasound technician is still a medical professional. Meaning, you must have the proper education and training. Here are different ways you can become one.

Get a Certificate

Getting certified will give you more credibility, although it’s not required. You’ll have more job opportunities, including higher-paying jobs.

You also get to choose to have certification for your sub-specialty. The exams include one for your sub-specialty. If you want to have more than one specialization, you can take the exam more than once.

To get a certificate, you need to pass the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) examinations. It’s a non-profit organization that ensures quality service and patient safety through its credentials. Check out their website for more details.

The American Registration of Radiology Technologists (ARRT) also offers credentials. You’ll need at least an associate degree to get the certification exam. You may then take exams in the ARDMS to get more credentials.

Certain states also require ultrasound technicians to have a license. Check with your state first to see if you need a license.

As of the moment, less than a handful of states have an established licensing process. The ARDMS expects, however, that more states will require a license in the future.

Get a Degree

An associate degree and a college degree are both viable pathways for becoming an ultrasound technician. For these, you must have a high school diploma or a GED to enroll in an educational program.

Make sure to choose an accredited program by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). You can check them out to see which ultrasound technician programs are available for you.

Note that the programs can last only up to a year or even longer. A diploma program can be anywhere from 8 months to 18 months, which will give you the skills for diagnostic medical sonography.

This is a good choice for when you have a non-related degree, but you need a diploma for certification. You can also attend a post-bachelor’s program, which takes two years, to earn a certificate.

A two-year program is one of the most preferred options as it can also give you an associate’s degree. A four-year program, on the other hand, will get you a bachelor’s degree.

You should also be able to get a master’s degree in this field. This opens up more opportunities for you if you want to move up the ladder.

When choosing, remember that you need something to prepare you and that will also look good to your future employers. Shorter programs might not be able to properly prepare you.

It’s recommended, as well, to choose a program that follows the standards set by ARDMS.

Clinical Training

Whatever CAAHEP-accredited program you choose, make sure it also has clinical training. This will give you the right experience, and it ensures you know you can do the job. It allows you to apply your learnings before you take on a real job.

Aside from clinical training, you can also pursue other educational opportunities. You can attend conferences, for instance, or take ultrasound continuing medical education courses. This keeps you updated about the latest medical developments and procedures.

Become an Ultrasound Technician

Becoming an ultrasound technician puts you in the medical field, which gives you a position you can use to help others. For that reason, you must undergo the right kind of training and education.

It’s worth your time to research more about this profession. Check out more of our posts to learn more today!

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