Ultrasonography, more commonly called sonography, is a non-invasive diagnostic procedure that produces images of blood flow, organs, and tissues within the body. If you are considering becoming a sonogram technician, here is what you need to know:
Sonogram technicians are highly trained professionals who place transducers on patients’ skin in order to capture the necessary images required by physicians to make a diagnosis. Other duties include recording an accurate patient history, analyzing data, positioning patients to capture the best possible images, and giving an oral or written summary of the findings to a physician.
Many sonogram technicians choose to specialize in a particular area including:
Abdominal – These sonographers scan the organs and tissues within the abdominal area such as the liver and pancreas.
Cardiovascular – A cardiography is a sonogram of the heart, blood flow, and valve function. Cardiovascular sonographers most often test for heart disease.
Neurosonology – This is a sonography subspecialty that centers on the head, neck, and central nervous system.
Obstetrics and gynecology – This generally focuses on the health and progress of a pregnancy. The sonographer is responsible for capturing images of the bladder, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries to check their function.
Ophthalmology – Sonographers who work in this area scan the eyes.
Vascular – This sonography views the flow of blood through the blood vessels. Physicians often use the images to determine if a patient needs an angioplasty, which is a procedure to reopen a blood vessel.
Before you can begin working as a sonogram technician, you need to obtain an Associate of Applied Science degree or higher. This is the most popular option, though more and more students are earning bachelor degrees so they have better job prospects and higher wages. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs has given accreditation to over 150 programs throughout the United States. They can be found at community colleges and universities as well as trade and vocational schools. The curriculum depends on the program, but you may take classes such as:
Anatomy – This course covers the different structures and organs within the body.
Concepts of Physics in Diagnostic Sonongraphy – This is the study of general physical concepts and related mathematics.
Introduction to Sonographic Scanning – This course covers and introduction and evaluation of dexterity, sensitivity, and visual acuity needed to produce sonographic images that are essential to diagnostic medical sonography.
Medical Terminology – Students learn the proper terminology regarding human anatomy, diseases, medications, and medical devices.
Once all required classes are completed, students spend approximately six months working full-time in a hospital, laboratory, or physician’s office gaining valuable hands-on training under an experienced sonogram technician’s guidance.
Sonogram Technicians need the ability to lift, handle, and carry ultrasound accessories that weigh up to forty pounds as well as push, pull, and manipulate mobile ultrasound machines that weigh up to 600 pounds.
In most states, certification is not required. However, many employers will only hire sonogram technicians who have earned the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer credential issued by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). The exam is 120 multiple-choice questions and test takers get two hours to finish.
Job Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the number of sonogram technician jobs is expected to rise 46 percent until 2022. Currently, hospitals provide the most jobs, but outpatient facilities are expecting a growth since equipment is becoming more mobile and less expensive.
The average yearly salary is $66,410, according to the BLS. Education, Certification, and location are all keys when it comes to determining a sonogram technician’s salary.
If you have any questions about becoming a sonogram technician, please contact us for more information.