Sonography Technician Training Programs and Requirements

Sonography technicians, also known as ultrasound technicians, perform diagnostic imaging procedures under the supervision of physicians. Sonography technicians perform and evaluate abdominal, obstetric, gynecologic and neurological ultrasounds. Hospitals and medical clinics prefer to hire ultrasound technicians with an associate's degree in diagnostic medical sonography and at least one year of experience.

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Training Requirements and Recommendations

A high school diploma or GED certificate is required to become an ultrasound technician. Ultrasound technicians typically complete an associate's degree program. After completing a degree program, ultrasound technicians can become certified by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).

Ultrasound technicians must have good communication skills to speak with patients and explain basic medical procedures. They are responsible for maintaining the safety and sanitation of ultrasound equipment and preparation areas. Ultrasound technicians should be able to create high quality medical images and work successfully with physicians to deliver top notch patient care.

Formal Education

Most employers require ultrasound technicians to have an associate's degree in diagnostic medical sonography. This degree requires two years of study and adequately prepares students for careers in sonography and medical imaging.

Associate of Science Degree Program

An associate's degree in diagnostic medical sonography teaches students how to create sonographic medical images using advanced imaging technologies. Students receive hands-on experience with ultrasound equipment in simulated medical labs. Courses teach students how to interact with patients and provide cooperative services to physicians and other medical professionals. Common classes include:

  • Medical terminology
  • Patient care practices
  • Anatomy and biology
  • Physiology
  • Abdominal sonography
  • Gynecological sonography
  • Sonographic instrumentation
  • Sonography physics

Job Experience

Prospects are best for ultrasound technicians with at least two years of experience, though entry-level opportunities are available for technicians with less than one year of experience. Ultrasound technicians may have experience in other areas of health care or patient care that can be useful in sonography.

Licenses and Certifications

Ultrasound technicians are not required to be licensed. Voluntary certification is available from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Although certification is not required, many employers prefer to hire certified ultrasound technicians or those who can be certified within their first year of employment.

To become a registered diagnostic medical sonographer (RDMS), an ultrasound technician must pass an exam administered by the ARDMS. Specialized certification is available for sonography technicians who perform imaging on the abdomen, breasts or nervous system. Certification demonstrates competency in medical imaging, patient care and basic medical terminology.

Workshops and Seminars

Sonography workshops and training seminars are typically offered by colleges that offer diagnostic medical sonography programs. These workshops may supplement the traditional curriculum and provide advanced medical imaging labs and simulations that are not available in the degree program.

Workshops may also be held by employers for newly hired ultrasound technicians with limited professional experience. Hospitals, medical clinics, physician offices and similar workplaces employ ultrasound technicians and may all have different policies and procedures, so workshops may be part of a larger orientation program.

Additional Professional Development

Ultrasound technicians can benefit from the professional development resources offered by the ARDMS. The association provides continuing education opportunities, career information, safety and ethical practices and information on related fields of medical imaging, including vascular and cardiac sonography.

The ARDMS provides industry resources for students, sonography professionals and medical imaging educators. Multiple publications, including ARDMS NewsWire, allow ultrasound technicians to learn more about the field with articles, news stories, research findings and more.

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