Ultrasound Technician Training Programs and Requirements
Ultrasound technicians are trained to use sound wave technology to capture images of human tissue and organs, which are used to diagnose and monitor a number of medical conditions. Accredited training programs in ultrasound technology can be found at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels.
Ultrasound technicians, also referred to as sonographers, develop skills in operating and managing ultrasound equipment to create medical images used in diagnosing and monitoring patient conditions. Students studying ultrasound technology gain familiarity with medical terminology, human anatomy and patient assessment in their training programs. Through practice, students studying this field develop an eye for quality imagery that will provide the most clear and accurate depiction of whatever organ or tissue is needed. Many technical schools, colleges and universities offer ultrasound technology programs. The most common choice for training is an associate's degree, but bachelor's degrees are also offered.
- Program Levels: Associate's and bachelor's degrees.
- Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED.
- Program Specializations: Obstetrics, vascular technology, abdominal scanning, among others.
- Program Lengths: Two years for associate's degree, four years for bachelor's programs.
- Other Requirements: Clinical internships.
Associate of Science in Ultrasound Technology
Through an accredited associate's degree program, students learn to use noninvasive medical imaging technology to obtain images used for determining medical conditions and treatments. Ultrasound technician training programs consist of in-class lectures, hands-on practice labs and a number of clinical hours completed at local health care facilities. Courses in ultrasound specialties, such as obstetrics, vascular technology and abdominal scanning, are also available. In addition to a few general education requirements, classroom lecture topics include:
- Acoustic principles
- Medical ethics
- Patient care techniques.
Bachelor of Science in Ultrasound Technology
A bachelor's degree program in ultrasound technology provides in-depth coursework in the many ultrasound specialties and prepares graduates for more advanced positions in the field, such as shift supervisors, administrators or researchers. Through classroom instruction and a required clinical internship, students acquire the knowledge needed to perform abdominal, obstetric, small-part and gynecological ultrasound procedures. During the clinical internship portion of an undergraduate program, degree candidates work alongside physicians, certified sonographers and other health care professionals to develop, apply and sharpen their ultrasound skills. General education coursework in the following subjects may also be required:
- Anatomy and Physiology
Continuing Education Information
Although ultrasound technicians are not currently required to be licensed, employers do prefer to hire candidates with professional credentials from a nationally recognized certifying body, such as the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). Other certifying bodies include the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Certification provides an objective measure of a technician's level of understanding and skill mastery.
To obtain the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) designation, candidates must pass a certifying exam administered by ARDMS. Candidates can become registered in a variety of ultrasound specialties, such as breast, nervous system or abdominal imaging, by passing the corresponding exam. Ultrasound technicians who achieve certification must complete a prescribed number of continuing education credits to maintain their credentials.
Annual conferences and workshops focusing on the ultrasound field are also offered nationwide. Lasting several days in duration, these conferences provide professional development opportunities in a number of areas, including diagnostic accuracy, technological advances, ultrasound techniques and instrumentation enhancements. These events bring together medical practitioners and ultrasound technicians from around the world, and of all specialties and experience levels. The most well-known conventions include those sponsored by the American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine and the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography.