What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become an Ultrasound Tech?

While ultrasound readings are a relatively harmless process compared to other types of medical diagnostic tools, such as X-rays that use radiation, ultrasound technology and technicians undergo vigorous regulation and training to ensure that the technology is properly used. Diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound equipment is regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration. It limits the amount of hertz, or acoustic output, of the equipment, as even sound waves, when misused, can be detrimental to health.

Ultrasound technicians can end up working in a variety of settings, though hospital work is one of the most popular occupation sites. Ultrasonographers can work in physician offices, clinics, and even veterinary clinics due to the advancement of ultrasound equipment technology. In all of these cases, each ultrasonographer must receive proper training in the specific field in which they work in order to become a licensed sonographer and practice.

Although there is no consensus on a level of preferable education for ultrasound technicians, many employers prefer applicants with at a two-year Associate’s degree from an accredited ultrasound program, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many employers also prefer applicants who are registered with one of the three recognized medical diagnostic sonography organizations: The American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Cardiovascular Credentialing International, and the American Registry of Radiological Technologists. These organizations require that program graduates pass an additional examination before they can be registered as official ultrasound technicians. Only graduates of an accredited ultrasound program can sit for the examination, therefore ensuring that those who pass are truly trained and well-versed in the field, according to Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. In requiring employees to have all these credentials, employers are sure that they have ultrasound technicians who are skilled, knowledgeable, and dedicated to their professions.

Ultrasound technician programs can be taken at many four-year universities as well as online. The program covers the foundation of all the skills an ultrasonographer would need to know, such as human anatomy, physics, medical ethics, as well as other courses that directly correlate with the student’s field of choice. Training with the ultrasound equipment will also be provided, as technicians need to be familiar with how to handle the equipment to receive clear and accurate readings. Prospective ultrasonographers should take care to ensure that the program they sign up to attend is accredited. The only exception to this is if a registered nurse desires to complete a one-year ultrasound technician certification course. No certification course is yet accredited, but most healthcare facilities will accept a registered nurse’s certification due to the nurse’s experience in the healthcare industry.

To move up in the field, many ultrasonographers seek training in other fields of medical sonography. For example, an obstetric sonography would also train in abdominal sonography to increase his or her marketability.