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Ultrasound technician


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Ultrasound Technician Job Description

An ultrasound technician uses specialized medical equipment to direct sound waves through a patient’s body to diagnose specific various medical issues. These procedures are referred to as ultrasounds, sonograms, or echocardiograms.

Ultrasound technicians may expect to perform some of their work in rooms with low lighting. They can expect to be on their feet for a majority of their work time, and must be able to do some lifting or turning of patients who require assistance. They should have excellent interpersonal skills, as they must be able to explain procedures to patients and alleviate fears and concerns that the patient may experience in anticipation of the procedure to be conducted.


Ultrasound Technician Duties

  • Record patient’s medical history and educate patient about the procedure
  • Prepare medical equipment for procedure
  • Perform the diagnostic imaging
  • Check the reading afterwards to make sure the equipment recorded properly
  • Provide analysis of images to provide information to attending physician
  • Record medical findings in patient’s records


Alternative Job Titles

  • Diagnostic medical sonographers
  • Sonographers


How To Become An Ultrasound Technician

Someone interested in becoming an ultrasound tech must anticipate obtaining formal education. There are different paths to becoming an ultrasound technician, depending upon the prospective employer. In some instances, the sonographer may begin work after obtaining an associate’s degree; in other instances, the sonographer must obtain a postsecondary certificate. Often there must be professional certification as well.

Many universities and colleges offer sonography programs: some programs end in an associate’s degree whereas others end in a bachelor’s degree.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Ultrasound Technician?

Someone pursuing this occupation can expect to spend two years obtaining an associate’s degree, or four years in order to obtain a bachelor’s degree. If the person already is working as a nurse, he or she can complete a one year certification course in order to become certified.

Education Requirements

Most employers prefer that a sonographer have obtained post high school education in sonography by obtaining an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. In other cases, a student may choose to obtain a degree in radiologic technology or even nursing, and then pursue obtaining training through a program offered through their employer or a separate certification program.

Certification programs take one year, but are often only available to someone who is already employed in a related job such as nursing. Such programs are often offered through a hospital. These programs include training in performing ultrasounds, reading images and include clinical training in the field. 

Certification

If a sonographer has obtained education through a college or university, the sonographer must pass an exam in order to get their certification. Some states require that ultrasound technicians be licensed, which requires them to hold current certification. Ultrasound technicians can anticipate taking continuing education classes throughout their employment lifetime in order to maintain certification.

Licensing

Some states require that sonographers hold a license. Someone interested in becoming a sonographer should check with the local state board to see if this is a requirement.


Job Outlook

The employment outlook for sonographers is excellent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that the number of jobs for sonographers will increase by 44% in between 2010 and 2020, adding over 23,400 jobs to the field of sonographers. This is based upon an expectation that ultrasounds will soon be substituted for more invasive procedures or procedures involving the use of radiation, increasing the need for sonographers to perform these tests. The average ultrasound technician salary was $65,860 as of May 2012.

As changes develop in the way medical treatment is rendered, more procedures will be done in physician’s offices in order to reduce burdens upon hospital staff. This shift to outpatient care will increase a need for sonographers in private medical offices or outpatient care facilities.


States With Highest Employment Levels

State Hourly mean Wage Annual mean salary # Employed Employment/1000 jobs
California $40.49 $84,220 5,180 0.36
Florida $28.25 $58,760 4,720 0.65
Texas $30.81 $64,070 4,370 0.41
New York $31.94 $66,440 4,040 0.47
Pennsylvania $28.00 $58,240 2,610 0.47


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