Ultrasound Tech Career Profile

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an ultrasound technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and professional credentials to find out if this is the career for you.

Many people associate ultrasound technology solely with pre-natal examinations of pregnant women. As you will see however, ultrasound techs use special equipment to produce images that help doctors assess and diagnose various medical conditions. Ultrasound techs typically need some formal training and professional certification.

Essential Information

Ultrasound technicians use specialized equipment to create, analyze and evaluate sound wave images. Techs work mostly in hospitals, clinics and private practices. While some ultrasound techs receive on-the-job training, it's more common for them to hold associate's or bachelor's degrees in a related field. Professional credentials, such as certification, state registration or licensure, may be necessary or preferred.

Required Education On-the-job training or associate's or bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Certification may be preferred; licensing required in some states
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 26% for diagnostic medical sonographers
Median Salary (2015)* $68,970 annually for diagnostic medical sonographers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Ultrasound Tech Career Description

An ultrasound tech career involves working with sonography equipment to generate sound wave images used in the assessment and diagnosis of various medical conditions. Ultrasound technicians (also called sonographers) take measurements, calculate values, analyze images and decide which ones need to be examined by the physician.

Ultrasound tech careers include obstetric and gynecologic, abdominal, nervous system, breast, vascular or cardiac sonography. Technicians usually work directly with patients in hospitals, private doctors' offices, medical clinics or similar healthcare facilities. Some of their other duties can include keeping records and maintaining ultrasound equipment.

Salary and Employment Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for diagnostic medical sonographers was $68,970 in 2015. Also, the job growth in this field is anticipated to increase by approximately 26% from 2014 to 2024, which is significantly faster than the average for all occupations over that time frame.

Education Requirements

An associate's or bachelor's degree program in diagnostic medical sonography or a related field is the most common route to an ultrasound tech career. However, the occupation can also be entered through hands-on training at a hospital, technical college or in the military.

Students preparing for an ultrasound tech career study anatomy, physiology, pathology, sonographic physics, patient care and medical ethics. Anatomy courses devote special attention to recognizing abnormalities in organs and body systems through sonographic identification. Students may review case studies and journal articles on ultrasound imaging.

Licensure and Certification

Licensing is not typically required for diagnostic medical sonographers, but many employers prefer candidates who have attained professional credentials. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography registers ultrasound technicians who pass the required exams. To keep pace with changes in ultrasound tech careers, most registered technicians take continuing education courses. Professional certifications are also available, depending on area of specialty.

The most common way to enter the field of ultrasound technology is by way of an associate's or bachelor's degree program. On-the-job training at a hospital or in the military is also acceptable. While not automatically required, you might stand a better chance of employment if you become licensed or secure professional certification.

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