Master's Degree in Ultrasound Technology: Program Overviews
Ultrasound technology, or sonography, is the use of specialized equipment to create images of the human body from the inside. It helps physicians make medical diagnoses. A few universities offer ultrasound technology programs at the master's level.
Master's Degree in Ultrasound Technology
Ultrasound technology involves using a transducer, a small instrument, against a patient's skin. It uses high frequency sound waves to gain an image of a person's blood flow, organs or tissue. This technology requires trained professionals, known as ultrasound technologists or sonographers, to perform the procedures. Most training programs are at the associate or bachelor's level. There are a few master's programs, such as a Master in Health Science specializing in vascular sonography or in diagnostic medical sonography. Students choose their own specialty within ultrasound technology at the master's degree level, and options include echocardiography, vascular, abdomen, and obstetrics and gynecology. The successful completion of a master's degree in ultrasound technology prepares graduates to sit for necessary certification examination(s).
Applicants may need to possess a bachelor's degree and complete required courses as specified by the institution. Some institutions admit applicants who have the required courses, but no bachelor's degree. Graduate programs additionally may require GRE scores and transcripts. A minimum cumulative GPA is necessary and varies according to the school. Applicants must also have basic computer skills and may be required to attend an interview in order to have their communication and interpersonal skills evaluated.
A master's degree program in ultrasound technology encompasses lectures and clinical training. It requires students to have a strong science background. Course topics include:
- Adult and pediatric cardiac ultrasound
- Vascular ultrasound, principles and hemodynamics
- Clinical pathology
- Medical and clinical ethics
- Ultrasound research and practicum
- Ultrasound physics and instrumentation
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected in 2010 that job growth for sonographers or ultrasound technologists would grow about 44% through to 2020 (www.bls.gov) . In May 2012, the BLS reported that sonographers earned a median annual wage of $65,860. These statistics varied according to geographic area, specialties and experience.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Sonographers are not required to obtain a license in order to work in any state in the U.S. However, there are voluntary certifications available from a number of organizations. Gaining registration or certification may increase an applicant's chances of obtaining employment. Certification generally consists of passing an exam. Registered sonographers must become re-certified on a periodic basis, which requires completion of continuing education courses.
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