How to Become an X-Ray or Ultrasound Technician
The healthcare and medical sector is huge but according to experts, current demand for qualified professionals will reach all-time highs by the end of 2018.
Within this sector are multiple career opportunities to include those in the field of radiology. People in this field are primarily responsible for testing and diagnostics, which involves working with doctors and nurses but also having direct patient contact.
As with all careers in this sector, special training and education is required to work as an ultrasound tech. Although gaining the required knowledge and skills for this particular career takes time, it is definitely a worthwhile investment.
Even though many ultrasound technician requirements are challenging, people find the work to be extremely rewarding. This particular career helps make a difference in the lives of patients but it also provides long-term stability, advancement opportunity, and excellent pay.
Reviewing Ultrasound Tech Schools
One of the first things an individual interested in working as an ultrasound tech would need to do is start researching different ultrasound tech schools.
For education, a person could consider conventional and online colleges and universities that provide special programs to become an ultrasound tech along with education in other fields but also accredited ultrasound technician schools that provide classroom instruction, as well as lab and clinical training specific to this healthcare field.
Ultrasound Program Curriculum
Whether considering various ultrasound technician schools online or conventional brick and mortar educational institutions, program curriculum would be much the same.
Of course, there could be slight differences but overall an individual would receive the same education needed to earn an ultrasound technician certification.
The most important thing to remember is no matter how many colleges, universities, or ultrasound technician trade schools a person looks at, any studies would be worthless unless the school chosen has appropriate accreditation.
Programs that prepare a person for a wonderful career in radiology are offered on three levels to include undergraduate certificate, associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degree.
For all three levels, education focuses on ultrasound technician training, as well as medical assisting, and diagnostic medical sonography.
Once completed, a person would be fully prepared to use state-of-the-art diagnostic medical equipment but also possess the knowledge required to interpret diagnostic testing.
Education through qualified ultrasound technician colleges covers a variety of subjects to include those listed below:
o Concepts in Patient Care – Even though the degree of patient interaction might not be on the same level as a Registered Nurse, there would still be direct contact. For both an ultrasound and sonogram technician, it is essential to possess strong communication skills. However, because of the connection with patients, a key part of education focuses on specific aspects of communication. As an example, ethical, psychological, and even legal topics are thoroughly covered.
o Human Anatomy and Physiology – This is another area of coursework associated with ultrasound program curriculum. For this, an individual would learn to identify different areas of the human body such as thyroids, liver, kidneys, brain, heart, and so on. This may sound elementary but it is actually critical to ultrasound, radiation, and sonography work in that these organs would need to be identified on different types of film. Along with a tremendous amount of classroom study, the course would include clinical training as well.
o Ultrasound Physics – Typically, this type of course would be offered through an associate or bachelor’s degree program since it is more advanced. The main purpose is to help students understand the physical science behind acoustic physics. While there is some degree of general study, usually this course covers a very specific field associated with ultrasound work. This also provides the opportunity to gain hands-on training of various ultrasound devices and equipment.
o Clinical Practicum – Ultrasound technician universities offer this to people who are close to finishing the overall ultrasound technician program. During this period, an individual would spend time working in a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office to gain actual experience working with doctors and nurses, assisting patients, and running diagnostics with different types of equipment. One huge advantage of the clinical practicum is the exposure to various fields of medicine such as vascular, cardiac, and obstetrics, among others.
Within the field of radiology is another wonderful career very similar to that of an ultrasound technician. Working as a sonogram technician also provides incredible opportunities to make a difference in the world of medicine but also job stability, growth, and income potential.
For this, education and training is offered through colleges, universities, and actual sonography schools online and on-campus.
Working as a sonogram technician, an individual would be responsible for capturing and interpreting diagnostic images of a person’s body from the inside.
Again, the type of work is similar to what an ultrasound technician performs although because diagnostics is different, the types of equipment and medical devices would also be unique. In this case, high-frequency sound wave machines are used to see inside the human body.
Sonography Program Curriculum
Along with practical training, accredited sonography schools offer very specific program curriculum required to earn an associate’s degree.
As part of the educational journey, an individual could choose general programs or focus on one or more areas of specialty specific to this field such as vascular, obstetrics, and cardiac.
Regardless of the direction taken, programs and clinical training are designed to prepare a person to pass the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography examination required for certification.
Following are some of the main areas of education covered in sonography programs, which are broken down into classroom, clinic, and laboratory time.
o Abdominal Sonography
o Cardiac and Vascular Sonography
o Diagnostic Procedures
o Foundations of Ultrasound
o Human Anatomy and Physiology
o Medical Terminology
Along with classroom instruction, an individual would spend ample time in various work environments such as hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and diagnostic laboratories as a way of gaining real-time experience working with doctors, nurses, and patients.
In addition, this part of the program would give an individual an opportunity to learn how to properly operate the various types of equipment needed to perform job duties.
Future Career Opportunities in Radiology
Whether a person chooses to work toward becoming a technician in ultrasound or sonography, the future is bright. However, before a career could be established, proper education and training is mandatory.
This involves acquiring an ultrasound technician certification, associate, or bachelor’s degree to work with ultrasound and an associate’s degree for sonography. In exchange for the investment of time, money, and effort, a person would have no trouble securing employment and enjoying growth opportunities that would be presented along the way.
According to the latest report provided by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, a professional technician in the field of ultrasound and sonography earns on average $65,000 a year although in some parts of the country, income of $75,000 is not out of reach.
While annual salary for both careers is slightly lower in Canada and some European countries, it is still highly competitive. In addition to salary, with several years of experience in either role, a person could pursue an even more advanced position within the medical and healthcare sector if wanted.
For some, advancement involves becoming a Registered Nurse while for others focus is on medical careers in administration, research, and education.
As mentioned, to be successful in either field, education must be completed through an accredited school. In addition, at minimum certification to work as a technician in ultrasound and sonography would be required, which involves passing the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical at which time a person would gain Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer credential.
Anyone interested in this area of healthcare could gain an advantage over other college applicants by taking more advanced math, biology, and science classes while still in high school. Regardless, in-depth research of several top-rated radiology technician schools would be necessary.
Remember, there are excellent accredited programs through conventional campus locations as well as colleges, universities, and vocational schools online.
With determination and drive, a person would gain the required knowledge and skills to get started in a field of medicine that provides not only long-term stability and great pay, but also gratification.