dcsimg

How to Become an Ultrasound Technician

Diagnostic medical sonographers, also called ultrasound technicians, are trained on how to use ultrasonic sound waves to image specific locations within the human body. The sound waves reflect back to the machine at different intensities depending on what they encounter - bone reflects back almost all the sound waves while soft tissue reflects fewer. The ultrasound machine then generates images, which are helpful for identifying internal objects in a body without invasive surgical procedures.

This process - called ultrasonography (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) - has applications beyond its common association with obstetrics and prenatal viewing. Ultrasound technicians can use the ultrasonic waves to help physicians diagnose a variety of medical conditions or even provide therapy.

Working as an Ultrasound Technician

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2012, as an ultrasound technician, you may be expected to perform any of the following tasks:

  • Get patients ready for the procedure
  • Maintain and prepare the imaging equipment
  • Apply gel on patient to increase sound wave's ability to display the body's insides
  • Operate diagnostic imaging equipment in ordre to get diagnostic images
  • Analyze images for quality and adequate coverage of necessary area
  • Discern differences between normal and abnormal images
  • Analyze images for preliminary findings to convey to physicians
  • Maintain patients' medical records

Ultrasound technicians may specialize through certification in such subjects as obstetrics, gynecology, gastrointestinal medicine, or neurology. Some specializations can incorporate other radiological procedures such as MR-guided focused ultrasound, which uses an MRI machine to guide two ultrasound waves through the body, heating tumors and cysts up to 85 degrees Celsius.

Becoming an Ultrasound Technician

According to the BLS, most ultrasound technicians complete a postsecondary degree program, either as a 2-year associate degree in sonography or a 4-year bachelor's degree (BLS.gov/ooh). A 1-year certificate program is also available, mainly for current health care professionals. Ultrasound technicians may also choose to pursue certifications in various areas of specialization to further their careers.

Ultrasound technicians may also be trained in vocational schools or colleges with on-the-job training programs taking place at hospitals or other clinical environments as well. Some ultrasound technicians are trained by the armed forces. As of 2012, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs has accredited over 205 training and education programs for diagnostic sonography.

Although most states do not require ultrasound technicians to be licensed, there are organizations that offer competency certificates, such as the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.

Employment Opportunities for Ultrasound Technicians

According to the BLS, the number of employed diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to increase up to 44 percent, nationally, during the period of 2010 to 2020 (BLS.gov/ooh). In May 2011, 54,760 diagnostic medical sonographers were employed in the U.S. (BLS.gov/oes), with a national median annual wage of $65,210. Those diagnostic medical sonographers employed in colleges, universities, and professional schools earned the highest annual mean wage -- $74,540 -- during the same period. States with the highest employment levels in the field include California, Florida, New York, Texas, and Pennsylvania (BLS.gov/oes).

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012-2013 Occupational Outlook Handbook: Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/diagnostic-medical-sonographers.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292032.htm

Chicago Northwestern University Medill Reports, Ultrasound therapy 'cooks' tumors, possibly sparing cancer patients side effects, October 13, 2010, Kirsten Tellam, http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=170314

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Resources, Ultrasonography, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/mesh?db=mesh&term=Ultrasonography

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, http://www.caahep.org/Find-An-Accredited-Program/


n Ultrasound Technician Training

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            Degree - Diagnostic Medical Sonography
            • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
            • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
            • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
            • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
            • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
            Show more [+]
            • Financial Aid
            Diagnostic Medical Sonography
            Platt College , Ontario
            • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
            • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
            • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
            • 3 campuses in Southern California.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Master of Science in Healthcare Informatics
            • Ranked among the 2015 Best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Designated as a 2014-2015 College of Distinction.
            • Average class size of 20, with a student teacher ratio of 10:1.
            • Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
            • Diverse campus life with over 80 student organizations, including Greek-letter societies and academic honor societies.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            X-Ray Technician/Back Office Medical Assistant

            About Brightwood College

            Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

            About Education Corporation of America

            Education Corporation of America's institutions broaden access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

            MSN Informatics Specialization

            The University

            With over 80 years of academic achievements, Jacksonville University is a traditional, longstanding institution consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's best colleges.

            • Online Courses
            Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management - Health Informatics
            • Its Fast Track program enables qualified students to save up to 30% on tuition and graduate up to 30% faster.
            • Its online MBA program was named by the International Graduate Forum as a top 10 Online MBA Program in 2012.
            • Listed as a military friendly school by G.I. Jobs magazine in 2014.
            • Lets students watch, view, read, or hear content through its program, My Unique Student Experience (M.U.S.E.).
            • Has additional campus locations near military bases in Colorado Springs and Denver.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits