Ultrasound technicians are responsible for developing diagnostic images, as well as maintaining the safety and sanitation of ultrasound equipment and preparation areas. Students are required to have a high school diploma or GED certificate for acceptance in a diagnostic medical sonography associate's degree program. This degree requires two years of study, includes sonography workshops and adequately prepares students for careers in sonography and medical imaging. After completing a degree program, ultrasound technicians can become certified by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).
Associate Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
An associate's degree in diagnostic medical sonography teaches students how to create sonographic medical images using advanced imaging technologies. Students also learn how to interact with patients and provide cooperative services to physicians and other medical professionals. Many schools also offer sonography workshops and training that may supplement the traditional curriculum, and provide advanced medical imaging labs and simulations. Common classes in this program include:
- Sonography physics
- Abdominal sonography
- Gynecological sonography
- Sonographic instrumentation
- Patient care practices
- Anatomy and physiology
Hospitals, medical clinics, physician offices, and similar workplaces employ ultrasound technicians. Workshops may be held by employers for newly-hired ultrasound technicians with limited professional experience. Prospects are best for ultrasound technicians with at least two years of experience, though entry-level opportunities are available for technicians with less than one year of experience.
Licenses and Certifications
Ultrasound technicians are not required to be licensed. However, many employers prefer to hire certified ultrasound technicians or those who can be certified within their first year of employment. Voluntary certification is available from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). To become a registered diagnostic medical sonographer (RDMS), an ultrasound technician must pass an exam administered by the ARDMS. Specialized certification is available for sonography technicians who perform imaging on the abdomen, breasts, or nervous system. Certification demonstrates competency in medical imaging, patient care, and basic medical terminology.
Ultrasound technicians can also benefit from the professional development resources offered by the ARDMS. The association provides continuing education opportunities, career information, safety and ethical practices, and information on related fields of medical imaging, including vascular and cardiac sonography. Additionally, the ARDMS has multiple publications like the ARDMS NewsWire, which allow ultrasound technicians to learn about news stories, research findings, and more information in the field.
Through class-room courses and laboratory simulations, two-year associate's degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography teach students the technical skills needed to operate and maintain sonography equipment, as well as work with clients.