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Ultrasound Technician Job Description, Duties and Responsibilities

Ultrasound technicians require some formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification options to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Ultrasound technicians, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, operate machines called sonographic scanners that create images of patients' internal organs. Sonographers can work in physicians' offices, clinics or hospitals and night and weekend shifts may be required. They may specialize in certain areas, such as breast, obstetric or vascular sonography. An associate's or bachelor's degree is usually required, and individuals who already hold a degree in another area of healthcare often can complete sonography training through a one-year certificate program.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree in sonography; some healthcare workers can earn certificates.*
Other Requirements Professional certification not mandatory, but preferred by most employers.*
Projected Job Growth46% from 2012-22*
Median Salary $66,410 (2013)*

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Duties

At the beginning of a session, ultrasound technicians usually explain the procedure to the patient as well as program and adjust the scanner for the specific procedure. Unless the sonographer is making a video recording of the ultrasound images, he or she decides which still images, called sonograms, to capture and show to the physician for diagnostic purposes. Although the obstetric and gynecologic ultrasound associated with developing fetuses is the most commonly known procedure in the field, the ultrasound technician may also work as a specialist in neurological (brain), breast, heart or abdominal sonography.

Education and Certification

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), diagnostic medical sonographers need formal training, typically an associate's or bachelor's degree in sonography though some certificate programs are also available (www.bls.gov). These programs cover anatomy, physics, physiology, patient care, ethics and instrumentation.

The BLS also reports that employers prefer ultrasound technicians who have earned industry certification from an organization such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). ARDMS offers registration based on passing exams on physical principles and instrumentation. Ultrasound technicians who pass the ARDMS exam receive the title of Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS).

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Popular Schools

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at George Washington University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Communication Disorders Sciences
      • Dental
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
        • Athletic Trainer
        • EMT and Paramedic
        • Physician Assistant
        • Ultrasound and Sonography Technologies
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
  • School locations:
    • Michigan (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Grand Valley State University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
        • Athletic Trainer
        • Physician Assistant
        • Ultrasound and Sonography Technologies
      • Nursing Professions
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
  • School locations:
    • Michigan (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Ferris State University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Dental
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
        • Medical Radiologic Therapist
        • Nuclear Medical Technologist
        • Respiratory Care Therapy
        • Ultrasound and Sonography Technologies
      • Nursing Professions
      • Optometric and Ophthalmic Services
      • Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
  • School locations:
    • New York (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Rochester Institute of Technology include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Clinical Laboratory Science Professions
      • Health and Fitness
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
        • Athletic Trainer
        • Nuclear Medical Technologist
        • Physician Assistant
        • Ultrasound and Sonography Technologies
      • Medical Informatics and Illustration
      • Nutrition Services
      • Optometric and Ophthalmic Services
      • Public Health and Safety

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics