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An ultrasound technician, sometimes referred to as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, is someone who has been trained to use special imaging equipment that directs sound waves into a patients body. This process is often called an ultrasound, sonogram, or echocardiogram and it is used to diagnose and assess a variety of medical conditions. In order to become an ultrasound technician, you must first attend an ultrasound technician training program.
What is Ultrasound?
Ultrasound is a pressure sound wave that operates at frequencies above human hearing. Ultrasonic devices are used to detect objects and measure distances. When an ultrasonic wave is transmitted into the human body, the ultrasound equipment picks up an image of the objects with which the sound collides. Ultrasound equipment is used to view tendons, muscles, and internal organs and can capture their size and help identify any possible lesions. Ultrasound technology is relatively inexpensive and recent breakthroughs allow the technology to be very portable, in some cases fitting in a backpack or small carrying case.
Many colleges and universities offer both associate’s and bachelor’s programs in sonography. There are also one-year certificate programs for individuals that have already received formal medical training, such as nurses and medical assistants. Once you have completed the ultrasound technician training program from an accredited educational institution, you will be required to pass an exam. Most exams are focused on a specific type of sonography (abdominal, breast, etc.). After successfully passing the exam, you will receive your certification or license and are able to join the workforce as a professional ultrasound technician.
Ultrasound Technician Salary
The United State Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) identified the average annual salary to be $64,380 or about $30/hour. Indeed.com gives a lower average of the ultrasound technician pay. Regardless, with the state of the economy, both salaries are quite enticing and the job outlook for ultrasound technicians is good. The BLS has indicated that between 2010 and 2020 the United States will see a 44% growth in ultrasound technicians, a rate much higher than many other occupations! This is good news for students who are just starting their education and are worried about finding a job when they graduate. For more detailed information about wages in specific areas, please see our ultrasound technician salary by state table.
Ultrasound Technician Jobs
So the salary is decent, the job sounds interesting, and the education is accessible. But what about ultrasound technician jobs? Well, according to Indeed.com, one of the largest online job sites, there are a good number of ultrasound technician jobs available, which pay an average salary of $54,000 annually.
Ultrasound Technician Job Description
An ultrasound technician is mostly responsible for maintaining and operating ultrasound equipment. However, there are some other responsibilities required by an ultrasound tech on a regular basis. Before equipment can be used, an ultrasound tech may need to prepare the patient for the exam. In some cases this can be very intimate, depending on what part of the body is being examined. Normally ultrasound images are used to make an immediate discovery or observation, which is usually communicated to the patient at the time of the observation. Having good communication skills and a keen ability to “translate” the ultrasound images is very important.