How to Become an Ultrasound Technician? How Long Does It Take?

Introduction

The profession of ultrasound technicians is a lucrative career option. The terms ultrasound technicians, sonographers, ultrasound tech, and ultrasound technologists are used interchangeably.

There is a high demand for ultrasound technicians in the field of sonography.

People tend to dive into this profession because the education qualifications require comparatively lesser time along with a higher growth rate.

The reports of the Bureau of Labour Statistics showed that the career of ultrasound technicians will see a growth rate of 12% between 2019 to 2029.

This means that there will be 131,700 job opportunities for prospective ultrasound technicians.

The ultrasound technicians amass the highest available income for an Associate’s Degree. The main function of an ultrasound technician is to assess the processes of the internal body and organ functions.

To perform such activity, the medical professional uses types of equipment that radiate high-frequency sound waves.

These sound waves travel inside the body of the human and hence, form images of the internal organs by reflecting back on the machine.

The sonographers should have both hard and soft skills. The soft skills complement the hard skills and help the technicians to perform their functions efficiently.

The hard skills include knowledge in pathophysiology, anatomy, physiology, hand-eye coordination, etc.

With effective soft skills like listening and communication skills, team working skills, staying calm under pressure, good ethical conduct, the technicians can perform to the best of their potential.

The ultrasound techs also record the data, which they gather from their equipment, and send it to the physicians.

But how long does it take to become an ultrasound tech? Let us have a glance at the various educational qualifications and requirements which an ultrasound technician should have.

Educational Requirements

Associate’s Degree

An Associate’s Degree in diagnostic medical sonography is the minimum educational requirement to become a sonographer.

The time duration to procure an Associate’s Degree is approximately 2 years. With the aid of an associate program, you can get an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree.

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredits the associate degree programs.

But if you do not enroll yourself in a program accredited by the CAAHEP, then you cannot enroll yourself for further exams.

The AAS degree will help you to qualify for further examinations through the CCI, ARRT, or ARDMS organizations.

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Bachelor’s Degree

A Bachelor’s Degree program is of four years and helps the prospective sonographers to procure a Bachelor of Science degree.

But you should make sure that the program is accredited through the CAAHEP. In an alternative case, you will not be able to take the exams through various organizations like ARRT, CCI, or ARDMS.

The advantage of a Bachelor’s program over an Associate’s Degree is the number of years. Since a Bachelor’s Degree takes more time, it proffers more significant lucrative job opportunities.

With more significant training and education, you can give various specialty registry exams.

The prospective ultrasound technologists can procure any one of the above degrees, either an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree.

The essential requirement is that CAAHEP should accredit both the programs.

Certification Requirements

Ultrasound technicianThough procuring a license or certification in sonography is a voluntary choice, some states have proposed mandatory laws for the same.

Some states in the US require prospective sonographers to procure their license before practicing the profession. These states include North Dakota, Oregon, New Hampshire, and New Mexico.

The approximate time duration to procure your certifications and credentials is 1 year.

However, the period may fluctuate depending upon the various certification courses which the applicants procure.

There are various ways to take up the programs that can help you to get your license. Let us take a look at what they are.

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ARDMS

ARDMS or the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography is the leading organization in the US that has five certification courses covering each area of sonography.

These subjects proffer extensive information in the field to help the people become a proficient ultrasound tech. The five certification courses of ARDMS are as follows:

  • Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS)
  • Midwife Sonography Certificate
  • Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS)
  • Registered Musculoskeletal Sonographer (RMSKS)
  • Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT)

The students need to pay an annual fee to the ARDMS while procuring the above certification courses. They also need to reapply after every six years.

CCI

CCI stands for Cardiovascular Credentialing International. This organization proffers 9 certifications in the field of sonography.

The students need to reapply after every three years and have to pay a fee after they receive the certification every year.

ARRT

ARRT stands for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. With the aid of this organization, the prospective ultrasound technicians can procure an advanced certification course.

The name of the course is the Primary Eligibility Pathway. The students need to pay an annual fee and reapply after every two years for the course to maintain their license.

JCAHPO

JCAHPO stands for the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology. The organization helps you to procure your license to practice the profession of an ultrasound technician.

Employers tend to hire people who have the certifications and licenses from the required courses.

So, getting the license will help you to be at an advantage over your competitors and peers, and will fabricate an excellent career path for you.

Job Setting

SonographYou can work as an ultrasound technologist in the work environment which helps to keep your spirits high.

A negative work environment will not only affect your efficiency but will also compel you to underestimate your capabilities and dislike your job.

You can work as an ultrasound technologist in a medical setting like a clinic, hospital, or a medical lab.

But if you lack team working skills and do not like to work with others, then you can initiate your own private career as an ultrasound technician.

After looking out for the job settings, craft an impressive and compelling resume that can tantalize employers to hire you.

Mention your skills and courses you have completed like an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree in your resume.

Moreover, if you have a certification or license, then specifying it on your resume will help you to get a good job.

You can also apply for various internships and externships that help you to gain the relevant experience needed for the job. Employers tend to hire people who have previous experience in the field.

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Salary

The Bureau of Labour statistics exhibits the salary of an ultrasound technologist for the year 2019. The reports showed that the median annual salary for the year 2019 was $74,320.

The lower 10 percent of the sonographers amassed approximately $52,770 in 2019. On the other hand, the upper 10 percent of the ultrasound techs fetched more than $102,060 in 2019.

Conclusion

Hence, you can become an ultrasound technician with a minimum educational qualification of two years (in the case of an Associate’s Degree).

But the period increases in case you take different degrees like the Bachelor’s Degree. In addition to this, the licensing procedure also takes one year.

With the advancements in technology, various domains have emerged in medical imaging. There are a plethora of job opportunities for traveling ultrasound technicians and temporary sonographers.

The profession of traveling ultrasound technicians is quite appealing due to flexible schedules and different types of workplaces.

You can engage in this profession if you like to work with different people and are attracted to the dynamic trends of the industry.

Author

  • Efa Yasin, exhibits her witty personality, through her intriguing writings. Her works have been published on various websites, like NOGOZO and THETOPTOURS. With her forte being in English, she has conducted researches and concocted articles on various niches like marketing, travel and tourism, information technology, and many more.

Editor

  • As a Humanities undergrad, Anwesha Sen explores her creative side by writing about fields such as finance, education, marketing, and tourism. Her work has been published on various company blogs. She thoroughly enjoys traveling and learning about new cultures. Being a sucker for mysteries, she spends most of her free time watching documentaries on unsolved crimes.

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