Whether you are just starting your journey in the healthcare industry, or looking to explore a new direction in your field, the choice to become an ultrasound technician is a rewarding adventure. Performing an ultrasound is a science as much as it is an art. It requires the knowledge, technique, and creativity to diagnose pathologies efficiently and effectively. A career as an ultrasound technician will offer you the opportunity to challenge yourself with every procedure while also interacting closely with patients.
Ultrasound Technicians perform an integral function in the diagnostic process. Aspiring ultrasound technicians can take one of three possible educational paths in order to gain the necessary skills and knowledge for performing the duties of this important profession. The possible paths are:
- Certificate : By attending a 12-month ultrasound certificate program, you will receive specialized instruction on the theory and uses of sonography. This option is perfect for healthcare professionals who want to improve their knowledge of operating and maintaining ultrasound equipment.
- Associate’s Degree : The most popular academic path for aspiring ultrasound technicians is the 24-month associate’s degree. These programs provide the technical theory behind the physics of sonography while clarifying necessary physiology and diagnostic procedures needed to operate the equipment and perform routine procedures.
- Bachelor’s Degree : If you want to fill a management or supervisory position, or possibly teach classes on sonography, then a bachelor’s degree will give you the greatest amount of flexibility. The four-year programs allow you to expand your imaging and diagnostic knowledge, and let you learn more about certain specialties, such as abdominal sonography and echocardiography.
At present, no license or certification is necessary to perform the duties of an ultrasound technician. However, your career may be improved of you obtain a license or certification. Most employers either require or give preference to applicants who are certified through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS), an organization that tests the competency of sonographers and vascular technologists.
To earn certification through ARDMS as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer, or Registered Vascular Technologist, you must pass the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation exam. In order to take the exam, you must meet one of the eight possible prerequisites.
Below is a list of ARDMS credentials and corresponding specialty areas:
- RDMS: Abdomen; Breast; Fetal Echocardiography; Neurosonology; Obstetrics/Gynecology
- RDCS: Adult Echocardiography; Fetal Echocardiography; Pediatric Echocardiography
- RVT: Vascular Technology
In niches like echocardiography and neurosonology, ultrasound technicians have a dramatic impact on the diagnostic process. Each specialization offers new challenges in obtaining useful images and interpreting diagnostic data. Greater training means greater effectiveness in acting as a liaison between a doctor and his or her patient, and the more effective your technique is, the more rewarding your career will become.