The Scoop on Ultrasound Technicians (Diagnostic Medical Sonographers)

Ultrasound Technicians are becoming increasingly important in the medical field.

Not just because they offer cutting-edge imaging technology (which is crucial to many medical specialties) but also because the technology of the "sonogram" is much more favorable than other technologies. Given the favor that sonographers receive in the medical community it should come as no surprise that this particular field is expected to grow faster than the national average.

What in the World Does an Ultrasound Technician Do?

Ultrasound Technicians (Sonographers) are specialists in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. If you were working as a Sonographer you would spend the majority of your time actually AT the Sonogram Machine. The Machine itself uses high-frequency sound waves to project images of the area of the body that you would be examining. Many times you would begin by walking a patient through the procedure and taking any medical history that you might need in order to continue. This medical history is also helpful when you see things on the sonogram that might not be "ideal".

Reading the images on-screen is a black and white issue - literally. You can see light and dark areas in the body that contrast one another and this contrast allows you to see all the areas of the body that you would expect to see and it also allows you to see what is out of place. After the procedure you will be tasked with answering patient questions, notating their records, keeping track of their records, and perhaps scheduling a follow-up (depending on what the Doctor may want to do.)

Since this is one of the few specialties where you actually spend more time sitting than standing this job requires a great deal of stamina because sitting for extended periods might make your back hurt (so work on that posture!)

What Kind of Training do I need (A.K.A. - Will I have to go to School?)

The training required for this field can take many forms. You could train in a hospital or vocational school (usually 1 year) or get your Associate's Degree (2 years) from a local college or university. If you wanted to "go back to college" you could even get your Bachelor's Degree in Medical Sonography. The course work is not much different from other medical fields. You will need to have a strong background in sciences and anatomy (so you know what you're looking at) and all of this is covered in a training program.

After getting your certificate or degree you are not required to get a license, but the ARDMS (American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography) offers a program where you can become a "Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer" or RDMS. This is not required for employment or by law, but this program further educates you in the field and the Certification makes you a much more desirable candidate when you're looking for work.

How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?

Most Ultrasound Technicians work in Hospitals or Doctor's offices. If you're working in a hospital you would see any patient who needed a Sonogram. This could range from pregnant mothers, to people with injuries, to people who have pains that they cannot explain. Sometimes the work might require you to push your equipment from patient to patient in order to do the sonograms, but in other cases you might have an office or a room where you can work and the patients travel to you.

If you're working at a Doctor's office that would typically be an OB/GYN practice where the majority of patients are pregnant women. Doctors often order Sonograms for expecting moms throughout their pregnancies so that the growth and health of the baby can be measured on a regular basis. IF you like kids this is the perfect place to be.

Advancement in this field usually means moving about in the profession You could become a "Supervisor of Sonography" or you could get specialized in more than one type of Sonography which would mean that you could hold more than one job. You might also want to teach Sonography at a training program or college. Still others might get into sales of Sonographic Equipment or might do research to improve the Sonographic Equipment. Bottom line: You won't ALWAYS have to look for the 3 lines so Betsy knows she's having a girl - if you don't want to.

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Ultrasound Technicians Overview

Ultrasound Technician Salary:$61,980
Job Prospects:B
Education after high school:2 years
# Employed in US:48,920
% Who work Part Time:17%
Physical Difficulty:+ +
Intellectual Difficulty:+ +
Emotional Difficulty:+ + + +

The Pros of being an Ultrasound Technician

  • The training can be one in 1,2, or 4 years
  • You can work in a hospital OR Doctor's office
  • You can get specialized in more than one area and hold more than one job

The Cons of being an Ultrasound Technician

  • It may be hard to deal with patients who are in pain
  • It may also be difficult to deal with pregnant women who are having troubles
  • The field doesn't offer advanced degrees, so advancement is based more on moving around than further educating yourself