Ultrasound Technician


Job Description

An Ultrasound Technician is responsible for all aspects of administering ultrasound testing for the purpose of locating and identifying anatomical data and images inside the human body. These images are often taken regarding oncology issues, pregnancy evaluation, or issues related to internal medical problems.

In the course of their work, an Ultrasound Technician is required to maintain and operate ultrasound equipment, consult and inform patients regarding procedures, and maintain detailed patient medical records regarding results and findings. Most Ultrasound Technicians are employed in hospitals and medical facilities. There is also a significant number of them employed in private clinics, private physician offices and medical labs. Ultrasound Technicians work closely with physicians and nurses who have requested results from the imaging process.

Duties:
  • Operate, maintain and calibrate ultrasound and sonogram machinery
  • Explain and consult with patients regarding the imaging process
  • Take images of the areas requested by physicians
  • Verify the quality of the images to assure attending physicians will be able to use them to make proper diagnosis
  • Record medical information from the patient, record the results of the images taken
  • Administrative duties related to the operation of the imaging department
Alternate job titles:

There are several different terms used to identify an Ultrasound Technician. They include Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Ultrasonographer, Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) and Ultrasound Technologist.

Ultrasound Technician Salary

According to information gather by "Quality Jobs and Education" from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median Ultrasound Technician salary is $64,380 based on 2012 data. The general salary range is $45,000-$88,000. The job is full-time with some overtime required depending on the facility. Working on weekends and evenings is very common, especially in hospitals and 24 hour clinics.

The level of the Ultrasound Tech salary and Sonographer salary will vary based on demographics, experience and certification. Also, the salary earned by Ultrasound Technicians in outpatient care facilities is a little higher than the salaries paid in hospitals and Physician offices.

How to become ultrasound technician

The path to becoming a Ultrasound Technician varies from state to state. However, The basic process begins with earning an Associate's degree in Sonography/Ultrasound Technology from an accredited college or vocational school.

For individuals with work experience in a related area, they may be able to become certified by taking a one-year vocational class offered by a hospital or vocational school. Once the individual has completed educational process, they need to determine whether or not they need certification. Some states require certification and most employers strongly prefer that their Ultrasound Technicians receive certification prior to working in their facility.

Medicare often requires that imaging processes are administered by certified employees. In order to become certified, the prospect must pass the board exam administered by American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) after obtaining 1-2 years of work experience in the field, depending on state requirements.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Ultrasound Technician:

The entire process of becoming a certified Ultrasound Technician takes from 3-4 years. This includes completion of the educational requirement (one-year vocational program or two-year Associate's degree), 1-2 years of work experience, and the time needed to receive results from the board exam.

Educational Requirements:

Prior to entering a college or vocational program, the Ultrasound Technician candidate must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. It would be useful to have taken math, physiology, biology and health classes. Those entering a college or vocational program right out of high school will be requires to earn an Associate's degree in the Sonography/Ultrasound Technician field.

Course work will typically include Anatomy, Physics, Ethics, Patient Care, Ultrasound/Sonogram Technology and Mathematics. For those with relevant work experience, a certified one-year vocational program may be substituted for the Associate's degree in some states.

Certification:

While most states do not require any type of licensing or certification, some states do require national certification in order to work as an Ultrasound Technician in the public sector. It is also noteworthy that many employers now require certification due to insurance restrictions. At a minimum, the candidate needs an Associate's degree at an accredited school.

Following school, the candidate may be required to obtain 1-2 years of experience working in a licensed imaging center or hospital. The national certification program is administered by the ARDMS. The exam has two parts and each part has between 150-200 questions. The cost of the exams is about $400. If the tests are passed, the Ultrasound Technician is eligible to register with the Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS)

Licensing:

For this occupation, there are no licensing requirements within the U.S. (see Certification).

Job Outlook

Based on BLS data, there were 59,000 employed Ultrasound Technicians/Sonographers in 2012. The anticipated rate of growth is 22% over the 10 year period from 2012-2022. This is much higher than the overall employment growth rate projected in the U.S. There are two primary factors that account for this high rate of growth. First, the population is both growing and aging. This will cause a drastic increase in the need for imaging services due to health issues and pregnancy.

Secondly, imaging technology is replacing more invasive methods of diagnosing. With new technologies, the field is wide open for new technicians.