Are you thinking about entering the medical field, but aren’t sure which career is right for you? Thanks to all of the baby boomers retiring, millions and millions of jobs are opening up in the healthcare field.
In fact, the job outlook in the healthcare field is projected to grow by 26% through 2022, a rate that’s much faster than the national average. If you want to enter the healthcare field but don’t see yourself as a doctor or nurse, consider becoming an ultrasound technician.
What is an ultrasound technician?
Check out this guide to learn everything you need to know about what an ultrasound technician does and how to become one.
What is an Ultrasound Technician?
An ultrasound technician is a medical professional who helps doctors diagnose patients’ ailments through the use of special equipment. Also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, ultrasound technicians record images and conduct tests that physicians later review to make an official diagnosis.
The equipment ultrasound technicians use contains high-frequency waves that record images of patients’ internal organs. In this role, you’ll work directly with patients and physicians. You’ll also take on the following duties and responsibilities:
- Preparing the ultrasound equipment and exam room so exams can be conducted
- Assisting radiologists with biopsies and other procedures
- Writing reports based on scan results
- Caring properly for equipment and reporting equipment failure
- Alerting medical staff of abnormalities that need attention
- Maintaining strict confidentiality levels
- Managing multiple projects at once
- Being flexible in a fast-paced environment
- Pursuing professional development opportunities to improve your patient care
- Working as a part of a team and working independently with minimal supervision
In addition to all of this, you’ll also be responsible for making sure that patients are comfortable during their appointments. As you can see, ultrasound technicians have a lot of responsibility in the medical field, and without them, medical facilities would not be able to operate.
Work Environment and Salary
The great thing about becoming an ultrasound technician is that you have the opportunity to work in a variety of settings. While a lot of ultrasound technicians work in hospitals, some also work in doctor’s offices, medical labs, outpatient centers, and other healthcare facilities.
Plus, as an ultrasound technician, you have the opportunity to specialize in a specific field. The field you specialize in can play a large role in your work environment. For example, if you specialize in pediatric sonography, you’ll likely work in a pediatrician’s office.
Other popular specialty fields include breast, abdomen, obstetrics and gynecology, and fetal echocardiography. How much you make as an ultrasound technician will depend on where you live, what your specialty is, and how long you’ve been in the field. According to the BLS, the average salary for an ultrasound technician is $66,750.
Considering that you only need an associate’s degree (aka, a 2-year degree) to work in the field, this is a fairly high salary. What’s even better is that a lot of jobs are opening up in this field over the next few years. Through 2029, job outlook is expected to grow by 12%, a rate that’s much faster than the national average.
How to Become an Ultrasound Technician
So, how do you get into this career field? Let’s take a look at the steps you need to take to become an ultrasound technician:
Obtain the Right Education
As we mentioned earlier, earning an associate’s degree is the traditional path to becoming an ultrasound technician. But, this isn’t the only way to enter this field.
After earning your high school diploma, you can also complete a one-year certificate program. If you think you’d like to later advance your career in the medical field, you may also want to consider earning your bachelor’s degree.
While there isn’t a specific bachelor’s program for ultrasound technicians, you can earn a degree in science. Then, once you complete your bachelor’s degree, you can earn your certificate. Or, you can earn your associate’s first and then transfer your credits to get a bachelor’s degree as well.
This Ultrasound CME guide can tell you more about the courses you need to take to become an ultrasound technician.
Complete Your Certifications
After completing your education, you’ll need to earn your certification so you can start practicing in the field. Here are the certifications you have to choose from:
American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography
The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, also known as ARDMS, offers five certification courses that cover each area of medical sonography.
Through this organization, you can earn certification in:
- Midwife Sonography
- Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonography
- Registered Vascular Technologist and Registered Musculoskeletal Sonography
- Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonography
To maintain your certification, you’ll need to pay an annual fee to the organization and reapply for your certificate every six years.
Cardiovascular Credentialing International
Cardiovascular Credentialing International, also known as CCI, offers nine certificate programs related to cardiovascular ultrasound technology. You can earn a certificate to be a:
- Registered Vascular Specialist
- Registered Phlebology Sonographer
- Registered Cardiac Sonographer
- Registered Cardiovascular Invasive Specialist
- Registered Cardiac Electrophysiology Specialist
- Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonographer
- Rhythm Analyst Technician
- Certified Cardiographic Technician
- Advanced Cardiac Sonographer
Once you obtain your certification through this program, you need to pay a fee to keep your certificate active.
American Registry of Radiological Technologist
The American Registry of Radiological Technologists, also known as ARRT, offers a certificate program that can then lead to an advanced certificate.
To maintain your certification through this organization, you’ll need to pay an annual fee and do continuing education every two years.
Are You Ready to Become an Ultrasound Technician?
Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is an ultrasound technician?”, it’s time to decide if this field is right for you. If the answer is yes, then your next step is to look into education programs in your area.
And, be sure to check back in with our blog for more career-related news and tips.