How to Become an Ultrasound Technician
An ultrasound technician is one of the medical imaging specialists available at a hospital or clinic and to become an ultrasound technician you need to complete and two year program and pursue voluntary certification.
According to College Navigator, there are over two hundred programs to become an ultrasound technician. Over one hundred and eighty of those programs take two years, or less, to complete. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs provides a directory of accredited programs on their website, which is searchable by state and also includes an option to search for programs that offer distance and online education classes. It is best to attend an accredited program since these programs are usually recognized by certification authorities and by employers. It is also possible to get training in this occupation via the military.
Over thirty states use voluntary certification for state licensing purposes and most employers will prefer to hire technicians with standard education and voluntary certification.
The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) offers relevant certification in the following areas: Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer and the Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer.
The ARDMS also offers certification in Breast Sonography and Vascular Sonography. Certification usually involves completing a recognized program, applying to take an examination, writing and passing the examination and renewing the certification when necessary. Once certification is completed, the technician is also added to a register of certified technicians, an asset when looking for employment.
Tips and Advice
If you are currently in high school, you should focus on completing courses in biology, chemistry and physics. These courses are usually requirements for entrance into a medical program, though each program will have its own prerequisites. It is also useful to learn basic medical terminology and take a computer course that will include databases, since most hospitals and clinics will require the technician to enter relevant data about a patient into a medical database for physician review.
You should also complete a CPR course. CPR, as well as Basic Life Support (BLS) is usually job requirements. Most employers will accept CPR for entry level employees and then ask the new hire to complete the BLS course specifically for health care workers. CPR training can be completed in one day and you should also take the pediatric CPR which is usually offered as an additional training option at the same time.
Types of Positions
Ultrasound technicians work in hospitals, seeing many different patients of varying ages and conditions. With additional training, an ultrasound technician can work in with cardiographs, using the ultrasound. They can determine conditions of the cardiovascular system.
Ultrasound technicians can also work in women's clinics, using ultrasounds for diagnosing breast conditions, such as cancer, or they can assess the health of a fetus.
With more experience, there are also opportunities to teach and become an instructor, as well as advancing in the field to become a supervisor, where you would be responsible for the function of the clinic and training and supervising other ultrasound technicians. There are also positions available in this field in the military.