While ultrasound technician license requirements will vary by state, there are very few places that will not expect you to have proper certification in order to work as an ultrasound technician. When you finish your training, you are required to take an exam given by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography in order to receive certification. Once you begin practicing, you will still be expected to renew your certifications regularly as well as partake in continuing education to gain new certifications.
Very few states require that you be licensed, although, since New Mexico became the first in 2009, ultrasound technician license requirements are changing and expected to eventually cover all 50 states. The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography is at the forefront of efforts to establish consistency among state licensing laws to ensure that credentials and certifications are recognized nationally and that sonographers are not overly burdened.
Laws regarding ultrasound technician certification requirements are more standard, and employers will expect you to either already have certification or to receive it within 1 year. To earn this ultrasound technician training, you will take at least 2 exams, each of which carries a $200 fee. Physics is a required certification field, in addition to whatever your specialty is, such as abdominal, OB/GYN, vascular, etc. You apply to the ARDMS to take each ultrasound technician certification exam. You may have to wait several months before exams are scheduled.
If you can get more than one ultrasound tech certification when you are just starting out, it will make you a much better job candidate. The best training programs will require you to do a number of clinical rotations, with the expectation that you will perform around 950 hours of training, depending on the program. If you vary your work to enable you to surpass the basic ultrasound technician certification requirements, you will find it much easier to get a top job quickly.
Once you begin work as a professional sonographer, you will be expected to gain more certifications in different specialties as you progress through your career. The ARDMS will require you to repeat your ultrasound technology certification exam every 5 years to remain certified, and you will also be expected to undergo continuing education in order to keep up with developments and innovations in the field. Ultrasound technology courses are offered on a variety of specialized subjects for professionals who are looking to maintain their certification or gain additional knowledge and skills.
While the ultrasound tech license requirements are still in flux, there are some small private medical offices that may hire you without certification. This may seem desirable if you do not have the money to take the boards and so are not able to wait for certification to begin employment, but you should be aware that these offices may not have proper credentials themselves. So while you will not necessarily earn more money with a credential, you will earn more credibility. Furthermore, if you intend on advancing through the field, you must be ARDMS-certified.