Ultrasound imaging, also known as diagnostic sonography, is a medical technique that enables the visualization of internal body structures. It is widely used in a variety of fields with the most popular one being obstetrics.

Obstetricians frequently use ultrasound technology to evaluate fetal growth, diagnose birth defects, and assess the overall health of both mother and child. The medical professionals who are specifically trained to operate sonographic equipment and interpret the results are known as ultrasound technicians. Ultrasound technology provides qualified individuals with a wide variety of career opportunities.

1. Education Requirements

To become an ultrasound technician, one must first complete unique educational requirements. Most ultrasound technicians have at least an associate’s degree in sonography. Sonography degree programs will focus on anatomy and physiology courses, in addition to incorporating applied laboratory and clinical experience. Those who already have a bachelor’s degree in a science or health-related field may only need to complete a one-year certification program. Some ultrasound technicians graduate with degrees in nursing or radiologic technology, and then receive on-the-job training from an employer.

Several programs include an internship component to give students more hands-on experience in the field. Even if a program does not require an internship component, it is a highly recommended factor in one’s education for a number of reasons. Foremost, employers are most attracted to candidates with work experience that coincides with their education. In a competitive applicant pool, work experience is even more attractive than grade point average.

You need to stand out from the crowd. It is also a great way to gain relevant work references, recommendations, and possibly even secure future employment. Additionally, completing several internships is the best way to distinguish the type of work environment that best suits an individual.

2. Certifications

Although there is not an official licensing process in most states, employers prefer to hire someone who passed the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) exam.  Passing the ARDMS exam usually requires a strong foundational education and ample clinical experience. Most certification exams will relate to the particular field of sonography that the candidate wishes to pursue. Even after receiving a degree and securing employment, ultrasound technicians must occasionally enroll in sonography courses to keep their certifications current.

3. How to Prepare Your Resume

After obtaining all the necessary credentials to become an ultrasound technician, it is essential to devise a resume that outlines all internships and clinical experiences, as this is the most appealing aspect for potential employers.

Job-seekers should be specific when detailing the types of ultrasound equipment used and the duties performed. Personal qualities that employers look for when selecting an ultrasound technician include excellent interpersonal skills, attention to detail, hand-eye coordination, and technological proficiency.

4. What Ultrasound Technicians Do…

The duties allotted to ultrasound technicians are more extensive than one would think. They are responsible for gathering information about the patient’s medical history, and answering questions about the procedure. They must prepare, clean, and upkeep the ultrasound equipment. It is also their responsibility to make sure that the required gels and supplies are within reach before starting the procedure.

After performing the ultrasound, they will ensure that the quality is presentable and provides sufficient coverage of the area that needs to be analyzed. They will then perform a preliminary evaluation of the images, which must be recorded and presented to the physician for confirmation.

5. Where do Ultrasound Technicians Work?

More than three-fourths of ultrasound technicians work in either a hospital or a physician’s office. The remaining ultrasound technicians work in diagnostic laboratories or outpatient care facilities.

6. Pay and Job Growth

Regardless of the workplace, ultrasound technicians generally earn a salary of more than $60,000 per year (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics). Outpatient care facilities tend to pay closer to $70,000 while laboratory workers earn closer to $60,000. Both hospitals and physician’s offices fall in the middle of the two. Most employment opportunities are within hospitals and doctor’s offices.

The general job trend for ultrasound technicians matches that of the healthcare industry in general. Currently, healthcare is the fastest-growing industry in the United States due to the aging of the “baby boomer” population. Employment opportunities for ultrasound technicians are expected to grow by nearly 50% over the next decade. This is far greater than the national average for all occupations, which is a comparatively a mere 14%. Ultrasound technicians who are certified in more than one field are expected to have the most successful and lucrative careers.