Why choose an ultrasound technician school?

Ultrasound Technician SchoolsLike any skilled profession it takes a lot of time and effort to learn the necessary skills in order to become proficient and qualified. Although sonographers have the opportunity to undergo some shorter courses (around 2 years) compared to some other medical careers, their career is no less skilled or important. So how can these programs teach sonography in these timespans and what are the benefits of learning at an offline or online ultrasound technician school?

What does a sonography school teach?

Well if I really wanted to write a short article, I could simply say it teaches people how to become an ultrasound technician and finish right here. However given that I can imagine a lynch mob with pitchforks charging my door and I quite enjoy the use of my legs I’ll explain further.

For anyone who has been researching into these schools you will have read that the first and most important part of your research is to find out if both the school and training program you are looking at is accredited. Although yes it is possible to become a technician without accreditation, the job prospects are far better for those which are accredited and this is one of the main ways you can easily increase your sonographer salary.

The actual course content that the program provides will vary between institutions however being accredited they will all cover the generalities that are needed in your future day to day work. This is one of the major benefits for this kind of program, although in other subjects education can be quite theoretical with little grounding in real world application it is not so for sonography training programs. Due in part to the time constraints they have cut the course to the essential training that is required to do your job efficiently, accurately and safely in a real world environment. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Human physiology and abnormalities.
  • How to use an ultrasound machine and maintain it
  • Scanning methods and techniques
  • Administration such as how to complete patient reports and medical records
  • Bedside manner and providing quality patient care

This is just a preliminary listing and if you look at any ultrasound technician college prospectus they will provide a far more detailed course structure and information such as in this video.

How can they fit all this sonography training into such a short timeframe?

Although there are short courses available, some for as little as one year, they are not all this length. It is possible to undergo a full degree program which takes 4 years and is another way to increase your earning potential in the future. This course is obviously more detailed and provides a far better overview of the subject than the shorter courses; however there are reasons why you can practice the same career with a shorter training time. The 1-2 year courses often require several prerequisites that can mean you do not start from scratch knowing nothing about medicine or biology. This allows the schools to cut out some of the beginner knowledge that might be included in longer courses.

The main reason is however that they are vocational courses with a period of internship at the end. Technically you could say that this is still included in any training programs length however I would disagree. The internship is a paid job opportunity where you will be essentially working in your chosen career path. The only difference from that and being fully qualified is that you will be watched by an experienced sonographer while practicing. This way of learning can be of great benefit to those who learn better while doing as opposed to sitting in lecture halls listening to theory rather than doing it with their hands. It is also of obvious benefit to those who want to change career path however need to pay the bills and so wish to get paid work as soon as possible.

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Ultrasound Technician FAQ

As we are growing as a website we are noticing an ever increasing trend in the queries people are searching for and the answers they need from our site. We will be producing a series of informational FAQs in an attempt to answer these questions as succinctly as possible. We will be segregating the FAQs into different topics each aimed at an alternative segment of our audience. All of these FAQs will be available on our homepage

The below questions are for people interested in becoming an ultrasound technician as a career path, and want to find out more information to decide if it’s the right choice for them.

How long does it take to qualify to become an ultrasound technician?

The time that it takes to qualify as an ultrasound technician is relatively short compared to other medical careers. There are some courses that are as short as 1-2 years, with the Bachelor’s Degree program being a 4 year course.

The shorter courses are followed by a period of internship, but you could be earning a full time wage in as little as 2 years depending on previous experience and prerequisites.

How much does an ultrasound technician earn?

The average wage for a sonographer currently is around $63,000 a year. This can vary wildly depending on where in the county you are located and how experienced the sonographer is. An ultrasound technicians salary can increase to $90,000 in some cases.

The amount per hour a technician can earn fluctuates depending on circumstances, as it is not unusual for a technician to be on call or called in at short notice these situations do pay at a higher rate.

What is the job outlook like for sonographers given the current economic climate?

Everyone knows that medical careers are great opportunities; becoming an ultrasound technician is no different in this regard in fact even comparatively it offers exceptional potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that diagnostic medical sonography offers a “highly favorable” outlook of 44% growth in jobs between the years 2010 and 2020. As 20% growth is deemed to be favorable, it shows sonography to be one of the fastest growing sectors of any industry in the US.

What is an average day for an ultrasound sonographer?

Sonographers have days with varied duties, they are involved with the scanning of patients, making decisions on any abnormalities that may be discovered during these scans and giving their opinion on these to the physician. Technicians are also involved in maintenance of the ultrasound machine, alongside the write up of patient reports for physicians and upkeep of patient records. It is also common for sonographers to be involved in image archiving and some even take on managerial responsibilities.

What preparation can I do now, to help me study ultrasonography later?

Some of the most useful subjects to study prior to medical sonography are biology, physics and math. All of these are used on a daily basis as an ultrasound technician and you will find the learning curve a lot smoother if you have a strong background here.

What should I look for when researching ultrasound technician schools?

The choice of schools covering the topic of medical ultrasonography is massive and growing rapidly. This is partly down to the growing popularity and potential for the career, it can however make it difficult to choose which one is the best ultrasound technician school for you. This choice is largely subjective, everyone will have different opinions and needs so the best school will differ between people.

The most important aspect to look for though, is that both the course and school are accredited. While it is possible to qualify as a sonographer on an unaccredited course, the job opportunities and pay grades are much better for accredited students. As such although though these courses often cost more than their unaccredited counterparts, it is money well spent.

Top 10 Reasons to Become an Ultrasound Technician (Part 2)

Ultrasound Throat ScanThis is the 2nd of a 2 part mini-series of the top 10 reasons to become an ultrasound technician. If you are new to the series and would like to read the whole article please read part 1 first.

As talked about in our previous post, we deem becoming an ultrasound technician one of the best career choices you can currently make. We went over the salary benefits, job security advantages and personal fulfillment reasons that make this career path a great one to explore; however we had a difficult time choosing between just 5 points. Due to this we have this 2nd part of the article that allows us to expand and explain some other interesting facets of the job.

6. Work in an innovative environment of constantly evolving opportunities

If variety is the spice of life, sonographers must work in a curry house. The job itself relies on cutting edge technology, and as with anything related to technology, it is rapidly evolving and improving both in terms of equipment and technical procedures. As seen with the invention of <a href=”http://modernultrasoundtechnician.com/3d-and-4d-ultrasound/”>3 and 4 dimensional ultrasound</a>, these new procedures can provide extensive advantages even beyond better diagnosis.

It has been repeatedly proven for instance that providing mothers with a 3D ultrasound can actually aid bonding between parent and child. While new uses for these technologies are still being thought of, other innovative ideas are already moving forwards.

For instance recently mobile phones have been used as part of a remote ultrasound scanning package where, miles from any hospital or laboratory, sonographers were able to scan a patient and send the information back to a central processing hub for examination. There are many advantages for technology such as this, from lowering the cost of equipment to simply enabling easier scanning, as the sonographer can focus on the patient scan without having to worry about identifying issues on the image simultaneously.

As with any rapidly advancing career, it is highly important that a sonographer undergoes regular ultrasound training programs in order to stay up to date with the latest procedures and advances in order to provide the best quality patient care. If you love learning new things, this job will provide just the solution to scratch that itch.

7. Keep fit

One quite surprising advantage of becoming an ultrasound technician is that you get to stay in shape. It is not something that most people would associate with a sonographer, getting a lot of exercise at work, but it is a key component of the sonography role. In fact in the course guidance given to anyone investigating studying in the area, the prerequisites are listed as needing to lift 50 pounds routinely, push and pull the ultrasound machine, help patients onto and off examination table, have full use of both hands and be able to bend and stoop.

If the idea of sitting at an office desk doesn’t appeal to you as you like to keep active and exercise to keep fit, you can happily tick that off your check list.

8. Choice of specializations

During training and throughout a career, a sonographer will focus on one of several specializations. They do this so that the training they receive can be more detailed and in depth about that region of the body, so that the technician doesn’t miss anything that could be important during a scan. Due to the high level of responsibility associated with sonography it is a strategic choice they make not to be a jack of all trades.

This specialization is a personal choice and it is recommended that each student chooses the one they feel most attracted to, and suits their individual style. The specializations vary across the entire breadth of the human body, from the brain and neurosonology to abdominal and obstetrics (pregnancy) alongside many more. We have more detailed information on the different specializations available in an earlier post.

It is never nice to feel pressured or forced into a certain area or aspect of a career that you do not like or are uncomfortable with. This choice allows the sonographer as an individual to stay in charge of their own career path and future, which for us is a very big plus.

9. Great opportunity for advancement

The promotion prospects in the area of sonography are great. We have already discussed the expected growth in the industry until the year 2020. Growth creates more jobs, and more people to manage. It is not unusual for experienced sonographers to advance and take on managerial responsibilities. In fact due to the desire for hospitals and physician offices to keep hold of good sonographers, they realize that providing a route for ambitious workers is a necessity.

10. Flexible path to qualify

Diagnostic medical sonography is a great path to take if you would like to enter a medical career, but dislike the standard idea of studying for 4-6 years to attain certification. The route for an ultrasound technician can vary from a relatively short 1-2 year course up to 4 years to obtain a full Bachelor’s Degree.

While this can seem to contradict my earlier statements about the complex and highly skilled, responsible job that this is, it’s because these courses are designed to be a more vocational training. They have been distilled down so they teach you current, active, modern procedures and techniques that you will use on a daily basis. These are not theoretical courses that you may never use again.

After the initial training it is usual to undergo an internship for 1-2 years so that you can gain paid direct word experience training under the eye of a currently practicing sonographer. You can read more about this subject on one of our previous articles.

That completes our 10 top reasons to become an ultrasound technician. Although I can’t promise not to get excited over this subject again and post a few more reasons one day…

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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.

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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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