Ultrasound imaging is one of the most widely incorporated medical diagnostic technologies in the world. Used for capturing images and videos of the internal organs, ultrasound has a range of applications in the medical field and can be used to pinpoint an array of medical concerns. It is no wonder then that there are several employment prospects for qualified ultrasound technicians or medical sonographers in hospitals and diagnostic clinics. If you are interested in a rewarding career as an ultrasound technician, here is a look at what the job entails, the qualifications needed for the position, career growth prospects and specialization in the field.
What does an Ultrasound Technician do?
Ultrasound imaging is a safe and non invasive procedure in which equipment that emits high frequency sonar waves are used to capture images of the internal organs. The patient has to be positioned in a specific angle to get accurate imagery and this is where an ultrasound technician plays a crucial role. These medical professionals are not only responsible for using the equipment correctly but they also have to put the patient at ease and ensure that the tests are carried out properly. They have to ensure that the patient is maneuvered in the right position for the optimal capture of images. Once the images have been taken, the ultrasound technician is also responsible for preparing a detailed report based on the size of the organs. These videos, images and reports are then sent to the patient’s doctor for diagnosis.
A career path as an ultrasound technician can be paved by getting a two year associate’s degree in ultrasound technology, a certificate course or even a 4 year bachelor’s degree. The latter will certainly brighten the chances of getting a high paying job for a professional. In order to pursue the educational qualifications required to work as an ultrasound technician, it is imperative to start taking the appropriate courses early on. Ideally, people interested in these careers should ensure that they take health, life and physical science classes along with math, chemistry, biology and also computer science.
The two years associate’s degree course or the certification program can be taken at a local community college or an accredited vocational training center. The best way to find a reputable school is to look online; remember to check the reviews of the institution that you are interested in along with the placement assistance that they provide. There are also several institutions that offer programs which entail online classes and weekend sessions, so that working professionals do not have to quit their jobs. When checking the credentials of a school, ensure that they offer a program/course that is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
Because ultrasound technology has immense diagnostic scope, it is used in various branches of medical science which offers people a greater choice when it comes to specialization in the field. An individual interested in ultrasound technician jobs can choose to work in specific divisions of a hospital such as vascular or gynecological sonography. The different specialization options available for ultrasound technicians include:
Abdominal Sonography: Technicians working in this area of ultrasound imagery help to take images and videos of organs and tissue in the abdominal cavity; this includes the liver, kidneys, gall bladder, spleen etc. The job of an ultrasound technician in this case not only involves capturing images but also noting any organ enlargement or abnormalities in the abdominal region.
Cardiovascular Sonography: Technicians who handle cardiovascular sonography are responsible for conducting diagnostic tests such as a cardiography which is a sonogram of the heart, its valves and the coronary system. This is a widely used test to determine anomalies that may result in grievous cardiac ailments.
Gynecological and Obstetric Sonography: This is among the most common functions of an ultrasound technician. Sonography is commonly used to ensure proper fetal growth through the various stages of pregnancy and anomalies in the female reproductive system including the cervix, bladder, fallopian tubes, uterus and the ovaries.
Vascular sonography: Another crucial application of ultrasound technology, vascular sonography helps the physician to ascertain the presence of coronary concerns including blockages in the blood vessels that may lead to fatalities. Vascular sonography is often conducted to determine if a patient might need an angiography.
Neurosonology: This specialty of the technology deals with it applications to the central nervous system. Neurosonology is commonly used to assess the neural damage after a stroke and also to find abnormalities and tumors in the brain.
Ophthalmic sonography: Ultrasound technology is also used in ophthalmology to obtain images of the eye.
Where do Ultrasound Technicians work?
Although it is normally perceived that ultrasound technicians work out of hospitals, diagnostic imaging centers and physician’s offices, their services may also be required in the ER from time to time to help the physicians accurately diagnose the condition of a trauma victim. Apart from this, ultrasound technicians also play a prominent role in gynecological clinics where they are entrusted the task of performing routine pregnancy check ups.
Potential for growth
The demand for diagnostic medical sonographers is higher than most other employment prospects in the medical sector. This means that professionals interested in this career path will be making a sound decision by getting the requisite qualifications needed to get a job in the field. Once certified, a qualified professional can easily find employment with major hospitals in any part of the country. The average salary range for ultrasound technicians is between $30,000 to $ 80,000, with the higher pay reserved for professionals with ten or more years of experience.