Ultrasound Technician Training
The job of an ultrasound technician, also called diagnostic medical sonographer, is to use specialized equipment to take images of the inside of the body. This includes anything from examining a developing fetus to scanning for anomalous growths in the brain. Ultrasound technicians are in high demand, and the profession is one of the many healthcare careers projected to experience faster than average growth in the next decade. If you are looking to enter this rewarding field, then you will need to invest in high-quality education and training.
What Type of Training is Required?
Employers prefer ultrasound technicians that obtained training or education through an accredited program. Although you are not required to have a license practice sonography, you should register with one of the professional certifying entities in the industry. This will make you more attractive to employers because the certification assures them that you have attained the level of education and training required to do the work.
Where to Get Ultrasound Technician Training?
There are two ways to receive ultrasound technician training: from an accredited college or through a specialized training program. There are a number of 2-year and 4-year programs that will lead to an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree (respectively) in ultrasound diagnostics. People who already work in the medical field, like nurses, can complete a certificate program in one year. While 2-year programs are the most popular because you will enter the job market faster, you are likely to qualify for higher paying jobs if you have a bachelor’s degree. In addition to or in lieu of formal education, you can complete a training program. These programs are typically offered at vocational schools, but hospitals and other medical facilities may also offer ultrasound diagnostic training programs. Be aware that some programs require a minimum of a high school diploma with strong grades in health, mathematics, and science or previous experience in other healthcare related occupations.
Learning the Ropes
The course work you will be required to complete for your ultrasound technician degree will focus mainly on the technical aspects of the job. You will likely take classes in biology, anatomy, mathematics, physics, and medical terminology. In addition to that, you will take classes related to your area of specialization. For example, if you specialize in neurosonography, then you will take classes pertaining to the brain and nervous system.
Since you will work directly with patients, your course load may also include classes that prepare you to handle their emotional needs. Courses in psychology, medical ethics, and even philosophy can assist you with tending to a wide variety of patients.
Most schools require you to get hands on training by working at an approved medical facility for about 24 hours per week. Typically, this work is supervised by more experienced technicians, and you will receive educational credit for it.
Choosing the Best School
If you decide to complete a degree program, it is critical to your success that you go to an accredited school. Employers prefer to hire graduates from schools that teach students according to industry standards. Accredited schools and programs are the primary way an employer can be sure the person he or she hires has been properly trained.
Both traditional colleges and online offer ultrasound technician training programs. Which one you go to will depend on your preference and lifestyle. Online colleges offer convenience ( click here to see the 3 only accredited online schools). Class lectures are hosted online, and you send your course work to the professor via email. Tests may be taken online or at a nearby facility. This allows you to complete the course at your own pace during times when it is most convenient for you to study.
However, online courses require a certain amount of discipline. It is far easier to procrastinate on your schoolwork when no one is around to constantly poke and prod you to get it done. Additionally, the online format is not dynamic. If you have a question about the material, you either have to email your question to the instructor and wait for a reply or use other resources to figure the answer out for yourself. Still, online schools are great for people who have full lives that leave them very little time for commuting to school every day.
There are benefits to going to traditional colleges and universities too. There is something to be said about learning in a classroom surrounded by other people striving to better themselves. You can ask the instructor questions in real time and connect with other students to study concepts and information. Many colleges and universities also offer courses on nights and weekends, which is great for people who need to organize their education around work or family obligations.
A career in ultrasound diagnostics can be personally and financially rewarding. Take time to pick a program that will provide you with the education and training you need to be successful in the field.