Ultrasound technicians use imaging technology that relies on high-frequency sound waves to capture real-time images of a patient’s blood flow, organs, or soft tissues so physicians can make a proper diagnosis. They also monitor pregnant women to check on the well-being of the fetus, its growth, and to determine if there are any abnormalities.
How do you become an ultrasound technician? Well, there are over 150 accredited ultrasound technician programs that prepare students for a rewarding career in this healthcare field. Continue reading to find out which option might be best for you.
Students usually enroll in an associate or bachelor degree program, with the associate option being the most popular choice. Though some students go on to earn a master’s degree.
Associate Degree in Ultrasound
An associate degree program gives students the knowledge to perform ultrasound procedures as well as provide quality patient care. Students can expect to take courses such as:
- Abdominal and Obstetric/Gynecological Ultrasound
- Cardiac and Vascular Sonography
- Concepts of Ultrasound
- Concepts of Equipment Use in Ultrasound Field
- Cross-sectional Anatomy in Sonography
- Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound
- Medical Ethics in the Ultrasound Profession
- Patient Care
- Ultrasound Instrumentation
Bachelor Degree in Ultrasound Technology
Students enrolled in a bachelor degree program take more advanced classes than those in an associate program as well as learn additional ultrasound techniques. Classes include associate degree courses along with:
- Anatomy and Physiology for the Ultrasound Professional
- Health Science Management
- Imaging Diagnostic
- Physics Relating to Ultrasound
- Specialty Sonography
Master’s Degree in Ultrasound Technology
Right now there are only two accredited schools within the United States that offer a master’s degree in ultrasound technology: the University of Missouri-Columbia and Nova Southeastern University-Ft, Lauderdale. Students can choose to specialize in abdomen, echocardiography, obstetric and gynecology, or vascular technology, and they will also take research courses. The curriculum is likely to include classes such as:
- Cardiac Principles in Ultrasound
- Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound Principles
- Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound Research Procedures
- Sectional Anatomy in Ultrasound
- Vascular, Adult and Pediatric Cardiac, Superficial Organ, and Gynecological and Obstetric Ultrasound
Ultrasound technician programs include hands-on training such as:
- Best practices for patient positioning techniques
- Learning how to capture the best quality images in order for the prescribing physician to render a diagnosis
- Practicing the proper techniques for operating ultrasound equipment
After students complete the ultrasound technician curriculum, they finish their schooling by attending an externship program. This allows students to practice their skills alongside a certified technician in an actual setting. The length of an externship varies from program to program, but usually they last six months and require a full-time commitment.
How to Choose a Program
Before enrolling in an ultrasound technician program found at a community college, teaching hospital, trade/vocational school, or university, you should ask:
Does the school have accreditation? Students need to enroll in a program that has earned accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. This means the program and faculty meet quality standards. If you take courses through a non-accredited program, it will be harder to take the optional certification exam and many employers will not hire someone who is not certified or did not graduate from an accredited program.
How many students are accepted into the program? Schools only accept a limited number of students into their program each year and it’s important to know what you’re up against. Some only admit as few as twelve students every fall.
What is the cost of the program? It depends on where you decide to go to school, but many students end up paying between $20,000 and $50,000 for their education.
If you would like more information about ultrasound technician programs, please contact us.