Are you looking for a great career that will last throughout your lifetime and be something that you can rely on for many years to come? Maybe you are hoping for a career change but don’t know where to start or what type of industry to go into. The healthcare industry has been one of the very best places to begin long and satisfying careers for many years and it still continues to be a positive resource in our work force. Many will agree that the best healthcare jobs are those that require very little training, have a solid job outlook, and pay well. That is the description for many of the technician jobs in the medical industry that are available today, such as the job as an ultrasound technician.
What is an Ultrasound Technician?
An ultrasound technician may also be commonly described as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. This is a professional who uses imaging equipment to create an image or to perform various tests. These images and the test results all help a doctor analyze and determine the issues with a patient, if there are any issues at all. This imaging technology can be used to help determine if a person has a serious illness, injury or disorder.
What Type of Work Environment Does an Ultrasound Technician Work In?
An ultrasound technician can expect to work full-time and in most cases they will have a consistent schedule. However, there will be some circumstances where an ultrasound technician may have to work evenings and weekends. This is usually true if they work at a hospital or deal exclusively with the emergency room department. The majority of all diagnostic imaging workers are employed by hospitals while all others work in private practices and other medical or diagnostic labs.
Worked in hospitals
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, 61% of all ultrasound techs worked in hospitals inside their sonography department. They were also responsible for performing ultrasound scans inside of patient’s rooms if needed.
Brand new ultrasound technicians who have recently graduated will work in a hospital setting. Their shifts are usually eight hours log and during that time they may perform as many as 10 to 15 ultrasounds along with filling out and sorting paperwork for the patient. They will also interact with their patients at the time plus physicians, other technicians and various medical personnel. Most of their workday will be spent on their feet. It is not unusual for an ultrasound tech to experience shift changes or be called in for an emergency scan.
What Does an Ultrasound Technician Do?
Ultrasound technicians use equipment to create images of a patient’s internal organs and other structures that are inside their bodies. The equipment uses sound wave technology to help create these images that doctors, and specialists later analyze to determine if there are any internal issues with the patient. The images or scans that the tech captures can be used to diagnose or monitor serious medical conditions and can often be a key part of saving someone’s life.
Ultrasound technicians play a pivotal role in healthcare. They work in close coaction with other members of a healthcare team including doctors and radiologists. They help prepare patients for procedures, take care of all ultrasound equipment, record the patient’s history and provide their findings during the scan to the medical team for further evaluation. If the ultrasound tech is working as a diagnostic medical sonographer, they can also help interpret the ultrasound image and that can help with the diagnosis or ruling out of a health concern.
What is the Salary for an Ultrasound Technician?
In the year 2015, the average salary for medical sonographers was at $68,970 annually. This is based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They also stated that the lower 10% of ultrasound technicians made $48,720 on average annually and the upper 10% made an average of $97,390 per year.
There are several factors that may contribute to the amount an ultrasound technician receives for their salary. The more experience that a tech has, the more money they will make. If you have a certification or a degree, you could end up with more advanced or specialized job offers that will lead to much higher compensation.
The medical facility that you work in will also contribute to how much money you make. Ultrasound technicians who work in outpatient centers make more money than those who work in doctor’s offices, hospitals or labs. The last thing that contributes to how much you will make annually is your geographic location. The states that offer the highest pay for sonographers and ultrasound technicians include Washington D.C. California, Massachusetts, Washington and Oregon.
Requirements for Ultrasound Certifications and Licensing
The requirement of an ultrasound tech certification or license can vary from one state to another. For example, in New Jersey, West Virginia, Oregon and New Mexico. It is mandatory that all ultrasound techs are licensed. And there are many other states that do not require an ultrasound tech to be licensed or certified.
However, many employers will still prefer that their ultrasound technicians are certified or licensed because they know that these techs will have the skills and training needed to do the job well. Therefore, it is best to take the time to become licensed or certified even if it is not a requirement in your state. Doing so can help guarantee that you will get the job that you want and provide you with more job opportunities in the future. All ultrasound techs who have a license or certification will have a competitive advantage over techs who do not.
The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography or ARDMS is the leading accrediting organization for ultrasound tech certification and licensing programs. They are recognized all throughout the country and the world for being the best accrediting organization for this field. By choosing a program that is accredited by ARDMS, you can become certified in various specialties of ultrasound imaging by meeting all educational and experiential pre-requisites and by passing the certification exam.
Additional licensing and certification organizations that offer credentials which are relevant to Ultrasound Technology include the American Registry for Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), Cardiovascular credentialing International (CCI), and Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO).
The Different Specialty Areas an Ultrasound Tech Can Go Into
There is a number of specializations that an ultrasound tech or medical sonographer can go into. Here are some of the most popular within the medical imaging industry.
This is the area that most people think about when they hear the word “ultrasound”. An OB/GYN sonographer performs ultrasounds on pregnant women to determine the condition of the embryo or fetus inside the uterus. The ultrasound can provide vital information such as the baby’s heart rate, how well they are developing, and determine the sex of the baby.
Cardiovascular and Vascular Technology
Cardiovascular techs play an important role in the health of all types of patients, especially those that have an existing heart condition or those who need to have their condition diagnosed. These techs will work closely with the patient’s physician to assess the heart and the vascular system’s health. Ultrasound techs will usually perform non-invasive ultrasounds and help doctors with making decisions based on the detailed images that they collect.
A cardiovascular technologist may also perform some invasive procedures which may include inserting cardiac catheters or conducting stress tests on patients. As the general population gets older, the need for cardiovascular technologists is on the rise. The job outlook for these ultrasound techs looks very good and is expected to increase by as much as 29% throughout the next 8 years.
Breast Sonography is a very useful resource that ca help to fight against breast cancer. The images taken by this type of sonographer can help to detect the early signs of breast cancer before it gets to a dangerous stage. This allows the doctor to treat the patient early on so that they will have a better survival rate. A breast ultrasound can be much more comprehensive than a mammogram and it is usually performed after some unusual finders are present in mammogram results.
Are You Interested in Becoming an Ultrasound Technician?
If you are interested in becoming an ultrasound technician, you are making great decision that can help you jump start your lifelong career in the healthcare industry. Working as an ultrasound tech provides you with a stable job and good income. You also play a very important role in the lives of the patients you do tests on.
The services provided by an ultrasound tech or a diagnostic image sonographer can help to determine if a patient has a serious disease or disorder, or it may help to rule out one issue so that their physician can focus on something else. Ultrasound technicians have very rewarding careers and they also have the ability to move up to improve their job opportunities and salary.