When a person chooses to do something more with their life rather than working at a dead-end or slow-growth job such as fast food restaurants, they may be wondering what kind of career they should get into. One such career they should look into and pursue is in ultrasound technology. Based on the 2008 United States Bureau of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbooks, there is to be a 19 percent increase need (through the year 20016) for ultrasound sonographers. This is, by far, the fastest growth of all specialties.
The key reason for this demand is attributed to the rising number of sick people and doctors who opt to use these machines as opposed to radiologic methods. The rapid development in the technology is another reason there’s been a significant rise in demand for ultrasound technologists, which is expected to continue for quite some time. Based on data from the American Hospital Association, there is a currently a high vacancy rate for ultrasound imaging related jobs.
Why the high vacancy rate? Some attribute it to the lack of schools that offer these types of programs and courses. Besides the demand for this job, there are competitive benefits and salary rates to be had as well. Based on data from the Labor Bureau, the average United States ultrasound technologist salary was just under $61,000 a year.
If a person is ready to make a step toward becoming an ultrasound technologists, then they’re going to need schooling to get this done. They can go for one of three degrees in ultrasonography:
These degrees are achieved by attending classes and courses with schools and hospitals that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The number of years a student spends in education will depend on their choice of educational program.
It takes just one year of specialized training for healthcare professionals to attain a diagnostic medical ultrasonography degree. Some healthcare employees such as nurses can obtain a sonography certificate.
To obtain an associate’s degree, students will need to be enrolled in a two to three year program at an accredited ultrasound school. If they want a bachelor’s degree, they must be enrolled in a four year program that focuses on both the familiarity and expertise of ultrasonography.
The prerequisites for ultrasound programs tend to vary. However, students must complete the following courses before they can obtain their ultrasound degree:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Imaging and display techniques
- Medical ethics
- Patient care
- Physics and instrumentation
While there’s no official rule stating that ultrasound sonographers have a license or be certified, it’s highly recommended that they register with the American Registry of Diagnostic Sonographers (ARDMS) once they’ve obtained their degree. Why? It establishes for prospective employers and patients that the sonographer is competent to work the machine.
To be registered with the association, the sonographers will need to pass the certification exam. Any person who has an associate or bachelor degree can sit in and take the exam. Once passed, the sonographer will gain the registered diagnostic medical sonographer title. To continue to stay registered, students will need to do 30 hours of continuing education every three years. They can do this by attending the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredited ultrasound programs or check out instruction credits through trade associations like Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography.