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Ultrasound Technician - Training & Careers

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Ultrasound TechnicianIt's no secret: the largest growing employment sector in America today is specialized health care. With advancements in medical diagnostics and a fast-aging national population, hospitals and clinics are searching high and wide for qualified medical technologists. Among these, there is a huge demand today for trained sonographers, better known as ultrasound technicians.

Ultrasonography employs sound waves to create an image that physicians use to diagnosis of various medical conditions. An ultrasound technician uses sophisticated medical hardware (called a transducer) to bounce sound waves safely into a patient's body to capture the diagnostic image on videotape.

The technician must know how to evaluate the quality of the image to best assist the physician in making a correct diagnosis. In addition, the ultrasound technician needs a thorough understanding of the internal structure of the body, the function of the organs, and medical ethics in patient care.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for ultrasound technicians are predicted to grow rapidly through 2012. Average earnings in 2001 for ultrasound technicians were between $41,420 and $66,020 a year.

Training and Certification for Ultrasound Technicians

While states do not specifically require licensing for ultrasound technicians, hospitals and clinics do require new hires to have certificates or diplomas from a recognized training program. Typically, sonography training is offered at medical vocational-technical institutes, colleges, and universities. Although two-year associate or certificate programs are more prevalent, there are four-year programs leading to a bachelor’s degree.

Many working ultrasound technicians chose to attain certification through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. The BLS predicts that most new openings will occur at hospitals, but opportunities will also abound in private physician offices, in medical laboratories, and at specialized diagnostic imaging centers.

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