Most people associate ultrasound technicians, also known as sonographers, with finding out whether soon-to-be mommies will be welcoming healthy boys or girls into the world. However ultrasound technicians do more than foretell the color of the baby's nursery --- they also collect internal images of the breast, abdominal and vascular systems using specialized sound wave technology. As of 2010, ultrasound technicians earned an average annual salary of $64,4440, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Ultrasound technicians are required to have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Students prepping for the career are encouraged to take classes in mathematics, physiology and anatomy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Courses in foreign languages are a good idea too, since health-care professionals help people from a variety of nationalities and ethnicities.
Post Secondary Training
After high school, ultrasound technicians are required to complete an accredited post-secondary training program. These are typically offered through community colleges and technical schools, although a few are offered through universities. Students have the option between a two year associate degree program or a four year program culminating in a bachelor’s degree. One year diploma programs are also available, but these are best suited for applicants who already have considerable health care training, such as nurses. Programs are a combination of classroom training and clinical practice; students typically study the anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology of the heart, as well as medical terminology, ultrasound physics, vascular ultrasound, abdominal and small parts ultrasound, obstetric and gynecology ultrasound, sectional anatomy and physics and instrumentation.
Certification is not required to be an ultrasound technician, but many candidates choose to become certified because it lets employers know that they have completed the necessary training to excel at your job. Certification is offered through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, as well as the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. For both certifications, applicants must prove they’ve completed an accredited program, and pass a certification exam. The ARDMS certification offers additional specialty certifications, including vascular, abdomen and breast sonography.
Sonographers are also required to have strong hand-eye coordination, good people skills, and have a working knowledge of complex technical equipment. The ability to stand still for long periods of time and pay close attention to detail is also required.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.