Top 10 reasons to become an Ultrasound Technician (Part 1)

Ultrasound TechnicianAs anyone who has read some of our other articles on this site can tell you, we think that undertaking a career as an ultrasound technician is a great choice. But that isn’t just our opinion, it’s a proven fact that we back up time and again throughout our posts. For those of you that are new to our site or haven’t yet read our other pieces, here is a summary of the top 10 reasons why you should strongly consider becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer.

1. Helping others in a fulfilling career

We had a tough discussion at the start of this list, what could make it to the top, what do we really think is the most important. There are many reasons to enter a medical career, but the real force behind it should be helping people. Sonography isn’t just a job, your helping people who have a problem, to get better. You can definitely go home at the end of the day feeling better about yourself and what more could you want from a job than that?

2.Salary

Ok so you can want more from a job than that, we all need earn enough to live and eat no matter which career path we choose. That’s where sonography really shines; you get to feel great about yourself while getting a very competitive salary. The average salary current is around $65,000 annually, with some more experienced technicians earning closer to $80,000 per year.  So now you are feeling great and are getting well paid, but we’re not even close to finished yet.

3. Job Security

Ultrasound technicians are highly valued, and highly demanded. Even through the current economic downturn we’re still seeing extremely high growth in the sector. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has pointed out that by the year 2020 they expect the profession to expand by 44%, that’s 24% more than what is deemed “highly favorable” and equates to around 23,400 new jobs in 8 years. It is very common for sonographers to stay at their place of work for years, even decades at a time. If you like to know your future is secure, diagnostic medical sonography is definitely an area to consider.

4. Responsibility

Sonographers do a lot more than just take images of people. One of the reasons why experienced, skilled technicians are in such demand is because of how important and serious a role they play in diagnoses. Sonographers make real decisions and reports related to the sonograms they take, and provide their expert opinion to the physicians to aid the patient’s diagnosis. The job does require a very high attention to detail and great communication skills, as missing abnormalities on a scan is not an option.

5. Varied Daily Duties

If you’re not interested in the kind of job where you get given the same repetitive daily tasks every day, then number 5 will be a big bonus for you. As mentioned above sonographers do a lot more than just make the ultrasound images. They are involved in diagnosis via the decisions they make while scanning, and the reports they give to the physician afterwards. They are also involved in maintaining the ultrasound machine itself, alongside proving quality customer service to the patient and maintaining patient records. It is also common to be involved in administration such as appointment making and archiving images, with some more experienced sonographers also having managerial responsibilities.

As you can see there are very persuasive benefits to entering a career as an ultrasound technician, and this is just half of our planned list! The next post in this planned mini-series will finish the list and if you’re not already convinced about which potential career you plan to enter, we’ll hopefully be able to help you to make the correct decision for your future.

Until next time, if you were helped by this article please feel free to browse other parts of our site, like us on Facebook, Google +1 etc. so we can help other people just like you via social networking.

 

Ultrasound Technician

Ultrasound TechnicianWe’ve built this website from the ground up, to provide you with the vital information needed to answer your questions about being an ultrasound technician. Whether you’re thinking about starting a career in the area or just looking to find out more information about ultrasound and sonography, this website will either be able to provide it, or provide a link to a resource that can.

What is an Ultrasound Technician?

Put simply, they are a medical professional who uses a piece of equipment called a transducer to map a body’s internals and display this as an image which can then be used to help diagnose a patient. The transducer works by sending out ultrasound waves into the body and these then bounce back from any internal surfaces to the machine as echoes. Similar to a bats navigational method of echolocation, the machine measures the time it takes for these echoes to come back, which allows it to calculate the distance travelled and therefor build up an image on the screen.

While a large part of the job is operating this machine, a sonographer is also responsible for the maintenance of the machine, along with interpreting the images that are produced. This decision making is then passed onto the doctors involved with the patient in order to aid diagnosis. During this process the sonographer will also be involved with providing quality patient care, alongside maintaining patient records and providing accurate reports on any ultrasound scans undertaken. Due to these duties, ultrasound technicians need to have excellent communication and administrative skills, organizational and teamwork abilities are also a major advantage.

Sonographer Demand and Job Security

In the current world climate, we now have to think of more than just whether or not we like a job. Job security can have a massive impact on a person’s daily life, from happiness to taking out a mortgage, knowing your career has a future can be very satisfying and comforting. This is one of the things that make training to be an ultrasound technician such a great career choice.

While many understand that entering the field of medicine is a great career choice, not everyone understands the extent of opportunities available outside the generally thought of roles such as doctors and nurses. Literally hundreds of hospitals up and down the United States are now equipped with ultrasound machines, as the huge benefits of such devices are noticed across the medical field the need for these machines has seen a large upturn over the last few years. With an increased need for the machines comes obviously, a need for qualified technicians to operate them.

There are currently around 53,700 diagnostic medical sonographers operating in the United States. In fact the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has stated that the number of jobs available in the field is expected to rise by an astonishing 44% in the next 10 years. When compared to the statement that anything over 20% in this period is deemed to be a very favorable job outlook, it makes diagnostic medical sonography one of the fastest growing career paths in the entire American job market.

There are a few reasons behind this large increase, the first is a simple one, the costs surrounding ultrasound machines have decreased substantially in recent years, while most modern devices all use standard hardware, it is even possible to run an ultrasound machine on a standard desktop computer as long as it is equipped with the specialized software required. When you combine this with an increased desire by physicians to have access to sonograms to aid their diagnoses, and major technological innovations in the area such as 3 and 4D imaging techniques, you can understand why the area is approached with such enthusiasm.

3D and 4D imaging is useful in more than what is usually deemed the standard areas for ultrasound sonography, from cardiovascular to musculoskeletal and other advanced systems, sonographers who have a sharp eye and great ability to spot abnormalities are highly valued by physicians.

This is why the BLS has stated that around 23,400 ultrasound technician jobs will be made available by 2020. This increased upturn however is for qualified technicians with relevant experience in their specialized field and knowledge of the latest advancements in the area. Due to this, training can be on going throughout their career in order to keep up to date with new technologies such as 3D and 4D imaging. While general diagnostic medical sonographers will have no issue finding work in the future, it is these specialities that can provide not only higher income, but a better platform in the future for personal advancement in their career.

Specializations

Abdominal – Involved in the scanning of the soft tissues, organs and blood vessels found within the abdominal cavities, these include urinary tract, pancreas, kidneys, liver and spleen among others.

Breast – Used in the investigation and evaluation of abnormalities that have been discovered either with screening or diagnostic mammography. Most commonly thought of as a way to check for breast cancer, however is routinely used for other things such as monitoring blood flow.

Echocardiography – The assessment of the blood flow and anatomy of the heart, its valves and blood vessels. Echocardiography was one of the earliest uses for ultrasound.

Neurosonology – An assessment of the brain and spinal cord. Although they use the same equipment as other sonographers, the frequencies among other things are subtly different.

Obstetrics/Gynecology – One of the more commonly thought of uses for ultrasound, this includes scanning and keeping track of fetal growth and development alongside evaluating and diagnosing more general gynecological problems.

Ophthalmology – Investigation and evaluation of the eye and its surrounding muscles.

Vascular Technology – Assessment of the blood flow in the abdominal and peripheral blood vessels.

Work Environment

An average working week for an ultrasound technician is around 40 hours, this can include weekends. The job can also involve being on-call or being called into work at short notice due to emergencies. Although most sonographers work in hospitals, there is a large amount of growth in other sectors such as diagnostic laboratories or physician offices. Due to these work environments it is expected that all technicians are able to not only spend large periods of time on their feet, but also engage in lifting, pushing and bending down as required.

A Word from a Sonographer

Below is a video from a practicing ultrasound technician who talks more in depth about the daily activities and education requirements from experience.

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