Sonogram Tech Education Requirements and Career Information
Sonogram technicians, also known as ultrasound technicians, use high-frequency sound waves to image patients' internal organs and help in the diagnosis of illnesses and disease. Most sonogram technicians are employed in hospitals, although some work in doctors' offices and other healthcare facilities.
Sonogram Technician Education Requirements
Although aspiring sonogram techs may receive on-the-job training, they typically complete 2-year programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Students learn how to use sonography equipment and interpret the output. Some of the course topics include instrumentation, anatomy and physiology, basic echocardiography, medical terminology and ultrasound equipment.
In addition to coursework, students participate in clinicals under the supervision of sonographers. Some schools also offer 1-year programs, although professionals already working in the healthcare industry enroll in these programs to change careers.
Although certification is not a state requirement for employment, many sonogram techs choose certification to improve their employment opportunities. Certification is available through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and the Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Sonogram techs can choose to be certified in a sonography specialty.
To obtain certification, they must complete training and pass an examination in physics and instrumentation. Sonogram technicians must complete continuing education to maintain certification.
Sonogram Technician Career Information
Sonogram techs may choose several sonogram specialties for their career path. Obstetric and gynecologic sonographers specialize in imaging and diagnosing the female reproductive system, both during and after pregnancy. Sonographers may focus on imaging patients' abdominal cavity to help diagnose ailments associated with such organs as the pancreas, kidneys, liver and spleen.
Neurosonographers are skilled in the examination of the brain and nervous system. Other sonographers specialize in the study of breast tissue to monitor blood supply, tumor growth and biopsy accuracy.
Career and Salary Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), diagnostic medical sonographers earned a mean annual wage of $66,360 as of 2012 (www.bls.gov). Job opportunities were predicted to grow by 44% from 2010-2020, which was much greater than average. Aging patients in need of diagnostic imaging and healthcare providers choosing ultrasound imaging rather than radiologic procedures were two factors contributing to the employment growth, reported the BLS.
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