Exploring Ultrasound Technician Training

A career as an ultrasound technician is a very lucrative job if you want to be financially stable (starting salaries are around $40K per annum and highest salaries are circa $80K per annum) and help physicians correctly diagnose patient illnesses and diseases.

Ultrasound technicians, also known as sonographers, ultrasound techs, or diagnostic medical sonographers, use ultrasound equipment to take internal scans of patients' organs and tissues using sound waves coming from the equipment. If this is the kind of job that interests you, following are information you need to know in order to complete the ultrasound technician training.

Ultrasound Technician Degree Options

The basic requirement for ultrasound technician course is completion of a high school degree. From there, you may select the path that you want to pursue to finish the course. For career shifters or even those who are already working in the healthcare industry, there is also a fast track option that you can go into if you decide to pursue this course. Typically, courses can be completed in six months, two years, or four years.

Certificate Program
This program is for students and career shifters who want to fast track their ultrasound technician course within a period of six months to one year. The advantage of this option is that graduates can already start looking for jobs after completing the required lecture and clinical hours.

However, most employees prefer graduates who have extensive clinical experience and who attended accredited training schools. A disadvantage of enrolling to this degree program is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) does not accredit all vocational institutions offering this fast track program. Therefore, ensure that your school has passed all accreditation requirements before deciding to enroll there.

On the other hand, exception is granted to career shifters who are also working in allied medical fields.

Associate's Degree
This program can be completed within two years of study, thus, if you have the time and money to spare, choose this option for more in-depth training in the field of ultrasound technology. This program also includes clinical hours after completing the lecture part of the course.

Aside from the comprehensive program of study, another advantage of completing this degree is the salary one can receive at work. Because of the thorough training while at school, employers tend to prefer graduates of associate's degree to certificate degree graduates. In terms of salary, those who have completed an associate's degree can also demand higher rate than certificate degree graduates can.

Bachelor's Degree
After completing an associate's degree, graduates may choose to take the registration exam or complete higher studies that would lead to a bachelor's degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. To complete this course, additional two years of study is required.

Online vs. Campus Training

Ultrasound Technician Training

Because of the internet, more students who cannot study in a regular classroom set up can now train as ultrasound technicians as well. The online classes are a mixture of in-campus activities and online activities; and, typically, courses are delivered though email, audio files, videos, forums, and discussion boards.

The downside to this set up is that when you need answers to your questions, you have to wait for people to see questions posted on the boards or forums before you get an answer. Unlike in a classroom set up, you have direct interaction with your professor and classmates.

Online training is ideal for working students.

Clinical Training

The ultrasound technician course requires completion of clinical hours and training. Whether you are enrolled online or on-campus, before you graduate, you have to complete externship classes where you get actual experience working in hospitals, doctors' office, and have direct interaction with the patients.

Typical Course Curriculum

Subjects vary depending on the school and program of study a student is enrolled in. However, here are some of the common subjects studied in an ultrasound technician course.

  • Introduction to Sonography
  • Patient Care
  • Human Physiology and Anatomy
  • General Physics
  • Medical Law and Work Ethics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers prefer candidates who have completed at least an associate's degree from accredited and reputable ultrasound technician schools. Likewise, you must be registered with any one of the following medical diagnostic sonography organizations: American Registry of Radiological Technologists (ARRT), The American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), or Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI).

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References & Further Information:
Bureau of Labour Statistics - www.bls.gov
Society of Medical Sonography - www.sdms.org

Other Titles:

Jobs in this field are often advertised in the classified section of newspapers under headings such as "Diagnostic Medical Sonographer", "Medical Sonographer", "Sonographer", "Health care" or "Health care professional"

Ultrasound Technician Salary

According to the US Department of Labor, diagnostic medical sonographers earned a median annual income of $43,600 in 2011 . See Sonographer Salary for more information.