Ultrasonography is a highly rewarding field to enter as the technology is relatively harmless and painless to use, yet it yields accurate and detailed readings. To join this exciting and growing field, prospective ultrasound technicians must first complete proper training to ensure that they are aware of how to efficiently and safely handle the machinery as well as manage patient cases.
Those interested in pursuing a career in ultrasound technology should take plenty of mathematics, health, and science courses in high school as the field often requires the technicians to be well-versed in those disciplines. There is no set guideline as to what education level ultrasound technicians must complete before being eligible to work, but most employers prefer to hire those who have completed at least an associate degree program in ultrasound technology, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Completing at least this level of education also provides technicians with the opportunity to advance to a higher rank as well, such as that of a diagnostic medical sonographer.
However, not any associate degree program will do. Prospective ultrasound technicians should make certain that the associate program they are considering is accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAHHEP), Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS), or the Joint Review Committee on Education in Cardiovascular Technology (JRC-CVT). These education guidelines are promoted by the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS), which is a respected authority in ultrasonography education and training.
An associate degree program in ultrasonography typically lasts about two years, during which time students take courses that will prepare them for a successful career in the field. These courses include general health classes such as medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology, as well as more specific courses that teach students how to accurately analyze ultrasound readings and efficiently use the ultrasound equipment. Those who are interested in pursuing a specialized niche in ultrasonography, such as obstetrics or nuerosonology, should take courses related to that focus.
After completing the degree program, graduates can choose to register as official ultrasonographers with either the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI), or the American Registry of Radiological Technologists (ARRT). To become officially registered, graduates must successfully complete an examination to prove that they are capable of performing the duties demanded of them in the field. Many employers seek out technicians who are registered because those technicians have proven that they are qualified workers.