Years of School
Ultrasound technicians operate ultrasound equipment and are also responsible for maintaining this equipment.
They are sometimes referred to as diagnostic medical sonographers. This imaging equipment helps doctors carry out a full assessment of a patient and what is happening internally.
The ultrasound technician will provide the doctor with the information they need to diagnose and monitor their patients.
Ultrasound technicians work with ultrasound equipment to help doctors find out what is happening inside a patient’s body.
This equipment is used to transmit sound waves into the body of the patient and these sound waves then produce an image which can be seen onscreen.
There are a number of different ways that ultrasound can be used such as checking for a tumor within a patient’s body or checking the health of a fetus.
Ultrasound technicians are primarily based in hospitals although they can also work in doctors’ offices.
A technician that works in a hospital is likely to use the ultrasound machine for a wider range of purposes, whereas in a doctor’s office you will probably be focusing on the doctor’s specialty.
If you decide to choose a specialism yourself then you will have a number of choices:
- Breast sonographer
- Abdominal sonographer
- Neuro sonographer
- Musculoskeletal sonographer
- Obstetric and gynecological sonographers
Duties of an Ultrasound Technician:
- Use and maintain equipment that is needed for ultrasound procedures.
- Use the equipment to examine any changes that are occurring in the patient’s body and to make note of these changes.
- Communicating the observations that have been made to the doctor or nurse that is in charge of patient care.
- Communicate with the patient before, during and after the ultrasound so that they are aware of what is going on.
- Ensure the ultrasound room is sterilized and safe.
- Applying the gel to the area of the body where the ultrasound will take place.
- Updating patient records and ensuring that these records are maintained at all times.
The average annual salary for an ultrasound technician is $72,328 which works out at around $35.00 per hour.
This is only an average salary which means the highest paid 10% of technicians will earn more than $86,237 and the lowest 10% will earn less than $59,686.
If you are certified by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), then you will be more likely to achieve the higher salary.
If you are employed as an ultrasound technician then you are likely to be working in a full-time position.
You may have a schedule that involves working during the day but even if this is the case you will still be expected to cover for emergencies. This is likely to involve working weekends, night shifts and some public holidays.
Average Annual Salary by State
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If you are interested in becoming an ultrasound technician then you can do this by completing an associate or bachelor’s degree.
If you already work in the healthcare profession then you may be able to complete a 1-year certificate.
In order to start practicing as an ultrasound technician then you will only need an associate degree. A bachelor’s degree will be needed if you want to progress to management level.
Both degrees will use a mix of classroom learning and practical work to ensure that you get the skills you need to become an ultrasound technician.
Examples of courses that you can take on both types of degrees are listed below:
- Concepts of ultrasound
- Principles of ultrasound
- Equipment used in the ultrasound field
- Vascular sonography
- Abdominal sonography
- Sectional anatomy
- Health science management
- Imaging diagnostics
- Physics relating to ultrasound
- Specialty sonography
These courses are in addition to the ones that you would study as part of an associate degree.
There are a number of places that you can study for both types of degree including university and community college.
There are also some schools that will allow you to study online.
Certification & Licensing
In most states, you will need a license to be able to practice as an ultrasound technician.
You do not necessarily need a certification to get a license but a lot of states do have this requirement, therefore it’s highly recommended to get one.
The ARDMS can provide you with certification and this will involve taking two exams.
The first exam involves 110 questions which consist of multiple choice and situational based questions. You will be given two hours to complete this test.
The second exam will take place when you have chosen a specialty. This can include breast, abdomen, obstetrics and gynecology, and fetal echocardiography.
There are 170 multiple choice questions in this exam and you will be given three hours to complete this exam.
There is an excellent job outlook for ultrasound technicians as the number of roles that are available is predicted to increase by 44% over the next ten years.
As the technology advances, ultrasounds will be used more often for diagnostic tests.
There will also be an increase in the future in the number of doctors’ offices that employ ultrasound technicians.
Ultrasound technology is a relatively cheap diagnostic tool and there are not many risks associated with it which means it does not necessarily have to take place in a hospital.