To begin a career as a therapeutic ultrasound technician it is necessary to complete a certificate in medical sonography. Therapeutic ultrasound technicians need to be able to lift 50 pounds for prolonged periods. Certification is voluntary, but preferred by some employers.
Therapeutic ultrasound technicians use sound pressure wave technology to deliver medication and treat any number of internal issues, such as kidney stones and blood clots, without breaking the skin. Most of these professionals hold at least an accredited certificate in medical sonography. Additional voluntary certification is also available and may enhance these technicians' job prospects and skillsets.
|Required Education||Certificate in medical sonography|
|Additional Requirements||Voluntary certification is preferred by some employers|
|Required Skills||Ability to lift over 50 lbs, stand for prolonged periods and communicate medical information effectively to patients|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||26% for diagnostic sonographers|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$68,970 for diagnostic sonographers|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
While it is a part of the medical profession, ultrasound work doesn't require as much intensive study as other health care professions. Some employers only require a high school diploma supplemented by on-the-job training, although that is becoming rare. More commonly, a 2- or 3-year degree from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is necessary to enter the field. There are no degrees specific to therapeutic ultrasound. Most schools offer either a certificate or an associate's degree in medical sonography, but a handful of universities offer a Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Students who enroll in these programs become versed in subjects such as:
- Abdominal sonography
- Obstetrical/gynecological sonography
- Acoustic physics
- Clinical practice
While certifications aren't specific to therapeutic sonography, there are various certification organizations geared toward ultrasound workers. American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) certification is required by most employers. Other certifying groups include The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board (NMTCB). Some employers also recommend Basic Life Support (BLS) training for prospective therapeutic ultrasound workers. Similar to CPR training, the American Heart Association provides BLS classes at many hospitals, clinics and universities; the training can usually be completed in 3-5 hours. While it isn't a certifying body, the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) is a professional organization which helps manage the continuing medical educational programs needed to maintain certifications. The group also helps promote advancements in medical sonography.
Therapeutic ultrasound technicians are generally contract employees who work in multiple hospitals or clinics and are often on call nights and weekends. They must be able to lift and move equipment that can sometimes weigh in excess of 50 pounds and must be able to withstand long stretches working on their feet. The job also involves delivering information to patients that is sometimes difficult to understand or unwelcome, so good interpersonal and communication skills are important.
Job Outlook and Salary Statistics
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have statistics specific to therapeutic sonographers; however, the BLS does report job outlook and salary statistics for diagnostic sonographers. The BLS indicates that the median annual salary for diagnostic sonographers was $68,970 in 2015. The BLS projects a far higher-than-average job growth rate for this profession in the coming years, listing an anticipated 26% increase in employment between 2014 and 2024. Those who hold certification in multiple specializations are likely to see the most favorable job prospects.
Therapeutic ultrasound technicians are trained to use sonographic equipment to deliver medication and treat internal issues, such as kidney stones or blood clots. An accredited certificate in medical sonography is typically completed before entering this field, and voluntary certification may increase job opportunities for those seeking employment in this field.