If you have been considering a career in the medical field, you may want to consider becoming an ultrasound technician. Commonly referred to as sonographers, these technicians are tasked with using specialized equipment to produce images that are later used by physicians to diagnose and recommend treatment for patients in their care. To further put this into context, ultrasound technicians are highly adept at using machines that produce high-frequency sound waves, which are transmitted into the patient’s body to create 3D images that accurately show what is happening in the body at any given time. In this article, we take a look at what becoming an ultrasound technician entails and why so many find this field of healthcare so rewarding.
ULTRASOUND TECHNOLOGY: THE BIG PICTURE
Although we touched in this briefly in the preface of this article, ultrasound technology offers technicians and doctors alike the ability to view tissues, organs, and blood circulation in real time. The process of producing these images requires a technician to apply a transducer to the patient’s skin, which, in turn, transmits sound waves and makes an echoing sound as sound waves bounce off of interior structures. While commonly associated with pregnancy, this technology is used to treat a variety of health conditions including those involving the abdominal and pelvic organs, muscles, tendons and, lastly, heart and blood vessels. If you’re interested in learning more about ultrasound use, you’re encouraged to visit gcus.com where you can read more information pertaining to how it used in the treatment and diagnosis of a variety of health conditions.
WHAT DOES TRAINING TO BECOME AN ULTRASOUND TECHNICIAN ENTAIL?
As far as a career as an ultrasound technician, aspiring students can receive the training from a variety of different sources including technical schools, universities, and community colleges. It’s worth noting, however, that in addition to receiving an associate degree, many students will further their education by enrolling in a one-year program that places a strong emphasis on cardiovascular sonography, echocardiography, and medical sonography. Generally speaking, this level of training is more than enough for students to start their career as an ultrasound technician, but many students will go on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography, which provides training on integrating other imaging modalities like MRIs and CAT scans, for example, with standard ultrasound imaging.
ASSOCIATE DEGREE PROGRAMS
To help better understand the study requirements in becoming an ultrasound technician, it is important that we separate what is required in an associate degree program versus a bachelor’s program. Students interested in pursuing an associate program will be required to take and successfully pass the following courses:
2. Patient care
5. Diagnostic sonography
6. Use and operation of Ultrasound equipment
BACHELOR’S DEGREE PROGRAMS
As you can probably imagine, the coursework in a bachelor’s program can be more challenging as it requires students to take and pass courses related to diagnostic medical sonography. Some of these courses include
A. General patient care
B. Abdominal sonography
C. Vascular sonography
D. Sectional anatomy
E. Gynecological sonography
F. Clinical practicum in sonography
Needless to say, the coursework is very in-depth, but it is necessary as diagnostic medical sonography is a very critical aspect of not only diagnosing but also recommending treatment protocols aimed at improving patient health.
For those who are interested in pursuing a career as an ultrasound technician and are not interested in pursuing a bachelor or associated degree program, there is the option of enrolling in a diagnostic medical sonography certificate program. However, you will be required to have a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree in a related health field. These certificate programs are much shorter in comparison, typically 12 to 18 months. That said, despite being a certificate program, students will still get the hands-on experience and knowledge that will allow them to thrive in their field. Regardless of your choice to enter a certificate program or pursue an associate or bachelor’s program, your training is basically the same in that you will be required to take courses in a specific order, which is critical since the coursework becomes more challenging towards the latter part of training.
WHY YOU SHOULD PURSUE AN EDUCATION IN ULTRASOUND TECHNOLOGY
Now that we have identified the process of becoming an ultrasound technician, let’s take a moment to address why a career in this field is so rewarding.
Short turnaround time – Unlike of careers in the medical field, becoming an ultrasound technician can take as little as two years with an associate program and even shorter for those who have prior healthcare experience, typically in one year. This means less time spent learning theories and more time spent putting into practice the skills that you have learned.
High earning potential – As an ultrasound technician, you have the potential of earning a very good salary. In fact, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for an ultrasound technician, especially those who have studied diagnostic medical sonography, is $55,000 to $72,000 annually.
An ability to help others – Like most careers in the medical field, being an ultrasound technician allows you to truly make an impact on the lives of the patients that you treat. It worth noting that many find this aspect of the job to be the most rewarding, often more than the paycheck itself.
Multiple job opportunities – In an ever-growing healthcare field, there will always be a need for ultrasound technicians. In fact, the need for skilled technicians show no signs of relenting; according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for technicians will grow by 26 percent over the next decade.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT DEGREE
It is worth mentioning that career options for those with a bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography are not markedly different than what is available to those with an associate’s degree. However, if you’re interested in advancing your career and moving into administration or managerial roles, it would be in your best interest to secure a bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography as it will make achieving these career goals easier and, best of all, these roles can be very financially rewarding.