After searching for your perfect career choice, you may have decided you want to become an ultrasound technician, which is also known as a diagnostic medical sonographer. Knowing how to operate ultrasound technology can open the door to a rewarding and exciting career. All that’s left for you to do is find ultrasound tech classes. Below are some tips on what to look for in an ultrasound tech school.
What Type of Program Should I Pursue?
When choosing an ultrasound school, it’s important to find one that meets your current level of education and training. Ultrasound technology programs are generally offered as certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree programs.
- Certificate programs are generally aimed at people who are already working in a health care position, such as a radiation therapist or radiology technician. If you already have a degree in one of these fields, an ultrasound technician certificate program might be an ideal choice.
- Associate degree programs, which generally take two years to complete, are the most popular if you’re interested in working as an ultrasound technician. Associate degree programs offer a lot of educational courses, as well as clinical education. The associate degree is the program chosen by most individuals just starting out in their ultrasound technician careers.
- Bachelor’s degree programs offer the highest level of education but take four years to complete. These are ideal if you wish to work in specialized areas of sonography. Completing a bachelor’s degree program in sonography also offers more opportunities for job advancement and leadership positions.
What Features are Important?
Regardless of what type of ultrasound technician degree level you choose, it’s important to find one that offers both didactic studies, or courses and lab studies, and clinical education. There are some schools that offer many of the courses in a distance-learning setting. As appealing as these may seem, it’s important that you also find one that’s affiliated with a school or medical facility that satisfies the clinical portion of the program.
The clinical portion of an ultrasound technician education is important because you’ll receive hands-on training performing the actual procedures. The clinical training will also be beneficial when you try to become certified. Another feature to look for in an ultrasound technician program is if the school or program is accredited. Completing an accredited program can generate more opportunities than unaccredited programs.
What Kinds of Accreditations are Important?
As stated above, certification plays an important role in your career as an ultrasound technician. It’s important to find a program that’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Canadian Medical Association. Currently, these are the only two organizations that are recognized by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).
What About Licensure and Certification?
Although certification may not be required for employment, most employers prefer that their ultrasound technicians are certified. Some insurance companies will only pay for claims if the procedures were performed by certified technicians. Some states require that their ultrasound technicians be licensed, with certification a requirement for licensure. The ARDMS is the most common accrediting agency for this career, offering various levels of certification.