Ultrasound technology is one of the highest paid jobs around one can have with only an associate’s degree. Anyone can become part of this field by going to an ultrasound technician school. Medical imaging is expected to have above average job growth.
Ultrasound technicians are trained to operate equipment and to look for problem areas in an image. They must ensure that the image is clear enough for the doctor to make an accurate diagnosis. The ultrasound technician may also be required to do measurements, perform calculations and evaluate results.
Certificate programs typically take one year of study, while associate degree programs take two. Applicants must a high school diploma, or be a high school senior. They should take courses in biology and human anatomy and physiology.
An associate degree program requires 60 or more credit hours. The hours include coursework in areas like sectional anatomy, ultrasound physics and instrumentation, and OB/GYN and abdominal ultrasounds. An associate degree also requires a student take several courses in English, psychology, speech and communication and the humanities. These programs also require clinical rotations to get practical experience.
Prerequisite courses include anatomy and physiology, college algebra, physics and medical terminology courses are prerequisites for most programs.
Ultrasound technician programs begin with a course on patient care. Students study the legal, ethical and psychological concerns of professional ultrasound. This course includes a study of basic medical terminology used in ultrasound and an overview of diagnostic imaging procedures.
Technician classes in anatomy include descriptions of bodily systems and how they work together for efficient bodily functions. Students examine ultrasound images to learn to identify parts of the body like the developing brain, liver, and kidneys when they appear on screen or during x-rays.
Special topics in the ultrasound physics course include sound transmission, three-dimensional applications, diagnostic images and the workings of ultrasound technology. Students operate and maintain ultrasound machines and practice using them on classmates.
Clinical rotation is done near the end of a program. They take place in a hospital or doctor’s office, where students interact with patients, doctors and nurses. The rotation provides students a chance to work in cardiac, vascular and general fields to understand how each uses diagnostic imaging. Clinical work also includes monitoring infant growth, which helps identify potential problems.
After completing a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree program on ultrasound, an individual will need to take the ultrasound technician certification exam. While no state currently requires an ultrasound technician to be certified or licensed, most employers prefer individuals who are. Certification shows that an individual is competent and is able to meet the professional standards the industry requires.
To receive certification, a student must first complete a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor degree program at a school that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. After completion, the technician can then register with the American Registry of Diagnostic Sonographers.
After registering, the technician will need to pass the certification exam. The exam will test the technician’s knowledge of ultrasound equipment and physical principles of ultrasound technology. The technician must also take an exam in a specialty of his or her choosing, such as obstetrics or abdominal ultrasound.
The certification exam will have about 150 multiple choice questions. Some specialty exams have video cases as well. Each test will take around three hours to finish. Recertification is required every 60 months.
Ultrasound technicians must maintain their professional certification with continuing education. ARDMS requires 30 continuing medical education credits in each three-year period to maintain certification. Technicians can earn CMEs by obtaining additional certifications or taking classes.
Salary in Mississippi
In Mississippi, ultrasound technicians work in a variety of healthcare facilities, including doctors’ offices, specialty clinics, hospitals, acute care centers, urgent care clinics, and cancer clinics. Although the average diagnostic ultrasound salary in Mississippi is around $51,630, the type of facility can make a difference. The majority of ultrasound technicians in Mississippi work in hospitals.