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How do I Become an Ultrasound Technologist?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 27 May 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Ultrasound technologists operate diagnostic imaging equipment in health-care settings. Technologists set up machines, administer tests, record results, and pass on findings to physicians. A person who wants to become an ultrasound technologist can obtain an associate's degree or vocational school certificate, take a voluntary certification exam, and apply for entry-level technician jobs. With on-the-job training and experience in the field, a professional can become an ultrasound technologist at a general hospital, a specialty clinic, or a private doctor's office.

The educational requirements to become an ultrasound technologist vary between regions and employers. Most hospitals and private doctors, however, prefer to hire workers who have completed medical technology programs. An individual can choose to pursue a two-year associate's degree at a university or community college or participate in a six-month to two-year technical school training program. While in school, a student is introduced to the fundamentals of diagnostic imaging from knowledgeable instructors. Students often take additional courses in human anatomy and physiology, computer science, and communications.

After completing an educational program, a person may improve his or her chances of finding work by taking a certification exam administered by a respected national agency. In the United States, for example, the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) offers a multiple-choice certification exam that tests an individual's understanding of common procedures, patients' rights, and ethical practice. Many other countries feature organizations similar to the ARDMS to provide credentials for new technologists.

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An individual who holds the proper credentials can browse newspaper advertisements and online job search sites to look for local opportunities to become an ultrasound technologist. Most jobs, especially those open to inexperienced workers, are found at large hospitals and public clinics. After finding an entry-level position, an individual can expect to spend several weeks in formal training under the guidance of an experienced technologist. With time and proven skills, a new technologist is given additional responsibilities and allowed to work unsupervised with patients and doctors.

Many technologists decide to enter specialties after gaining skills in general hospital settings. An experienced, skilled professional can become an ultrasound technologist at a cardiovascular, women's health, or neurological practice, among many others. Many ultrasound technologists who gain several years of experience are awarded opportunities to advance to supervisory roles, where they make administrative decisions and oversee operations within diagnostic imaging departments. In addition, many technologists decide to pursue continuing education at nursing or medical schools to advance further in their health-care careers.

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