Ultrasound Technician Certification
Like most medical careers, an ultrasound technician can be certified by professional organizations that exist to support the industry. Although certification and licensure is not required for employment, you will greatly increase your marketability if you are registered at a credentialing agency. Employers want to know that their employees are properly trained for the positions they are hired for, and certification assures them that you are qualified to do the job.
Types of Certification Available
The gold standard for the industry is certification through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. However, employers will also accept credentials from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and the Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Each of these nonprofit organizations awards different types of credentials based on your specialty.
American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS)
- Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS): This is the general credential that is awarded to people who pass the appropriate examination. The specialty credentials covered by this certification are abdomen, breast, fetal echocardiography, neurosonology, and obstetrics and gynecology.
- Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT): This credential is for people that specialize in diagnostic sonography of the vascular system.
- Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS): You would apply for this credential if you specialize in taking images of the heart. Adult, fetal, and pediatric echocardiography are the specialty credentials covered in this category.
- Registered Physician in Vascular Interpretation (RPVI): This specialty is for vascular surgeons and other professionals that specialize in vascular medicine. It validates the person’s expertise in interpreting vascular sonographies and consistently making accurate diagnoses using them.
- Registered in Musculoskeletal (RMSK): This is a new credential that will certify practitioners that specialize in musculoskeletal sonography, which is used to diagnose diseases of the joints and soft tissues.
American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)
The ARRT offers certification in sonography which covers the breast sonography, vascular sonography, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) specialties.
Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI)
- Registered Congenital Cardia Sonographer (RCCS): This certification is for sonographers that specialize in doing ultrasounds for pediatric and adult congenital heart problems.
- Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS): If you perform echocardiography, then this is the credential you want to test for.
- Registered Phlebology Sonographer (RPhS): For those that specialize in taking ultrasounds of veins to diagnose the diseases associated with them, you want to get this credential.
How to Get Certified as an Ultrasound Technician
Credentials validate a person’s knowledge and skills, so you must complete an educational or approved training program before you can sit for a certification exam. Eligibility requirements vary between organizations and even between the different certifications available at an individual organization. It is best to check with the certifying organization for the eligibility requirements that apply to the credential you want.
Once you have submitted your application and documentation, the organization will let you know if you are eligible to sit for the exam. All of the organizations charge for credentialing, so once you are approved and have paid for the exam you want, you will be allowed to register for a testing date.
The certification exam is separated into two parts. The first part is an exam that tests you on physical principles and instrumentation. This exam must be completed within two hours and is usually conducted at a testing center. The second part requires you to pass an exam in a specialty like abdominal sonography. Although none of the organizations recommend any specific study materials, there are guides available that touch on the subjects you are likely to encounter on the exam. Additionally, there are self-assessment exams available that you can use to test your knowledge.
A scaled score of 555 is required to pass ARDMS exams, 75 to pass AART exams, and 650 to pass CCI exams. If you fail an exam, all of the organizations allow you to retake the test. Again, eligibility for retakes varies between them. For example, there is a 45-day waiting period before you can retake the test at Cardiovascular Credentialing International. ARDMS will allow you to retake the test 3 times but you must wait 60 days between attempts.
If you pass the test, the organization will usually notify you within a couple of weeks and send the appropriate documentation. The certification is valid anywhere from 9 months to two years and all of the organizations require that you complete a certain amount of continuing education to be eligible to take re-certification exams.
The job market is competitive, and you will need every advantage you can get. Certification can not only help you secure an ultrasound technician position, but it can help you negotiate a better pay rate. It is certainly worth the investment of time, energy, and money to get certified as an ultrasound technician.
Today, distance learning makes it possible to get certified online. Please click here to view the list of accredited online schools.