Become an Ultrasound Technician

Learn how to become an ultrasound technician, including the skills needed, top programs, program lengths and costs, starting salaries, and steps to certification and licensing. Click the link below to learn more.

Ultrasound technicians, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, play a crucial role in healthcare by using ultrasound equipment to create images of the inside of the body. These images help doctors diagnose and monitor medical conditions.

This guide will provide an overview of the steps to becoming an ultrasound technician, the skills and knowledge needed, top programs, program lengths and costs, average starting salaries, and steps to certification and licensing.

How to Become an Ultrasound Technician

  1. Complete High School Education: A high school diploma or equivalent is the first step. Courses in science, math, and health are particularly beneficial.
  2. Pursue Postsecondary Education: Enroll in an accredited ultrasound technician program, which can be at the certificate, associate, or bachelor's degree level.
  3. Gain Clinical Experience: Most programs include clinical rotations to provide hands-on experience.
  4. Obtain Certification: Certification is often required by employers and can be obtained through organizations such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).
  5. Seek State Licensing: Some states require licensing for ultrasound technicians. Check specific state requirements.
  6. Continue Education: Stay updated with continuing education to maintain certification and stay current with technological advancements.

Skills & Knowledge Needed to Succeed

  1. Technical Skills: Proficiency in operating ultrasound equipment and understanding imaging techniques.
  2. Anatomical Knowledge: In-depth knowledge of human anatomy and physiology to accurately capture images.
  3. Attention to Detail: Ability to focus on intricate details to ensure accurate imaging and diagnosis.
  4. Communication Skills: Clear communication with patients and healthcare professionals.
  5. Problem-Solving Skills: Ability to analyze images and identify abnormalities.
  6. Empathy and Patience: Compassionate interaction with patients, many of whom may be anxious or in discomfort.

Top Ultrasound Tech Programs

Several institutions are renowned for their ultrasound technician programs:

  1. Johns Hopkins University: Offers a comprehensive diagnostic medical sonography program.
  2. Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science: Known for its rigorous and hands-on sonography program.
  3. University of California, San Diego (UCSD): Offers a well-regarded program with extensive clinical training.
  4. Seattle University: Provides a strong curriculum and clinical experience in diagnostic ultrasound.
  5. New York University (NYU): Offers an accredited program with a focus on both theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

Average Length & Cost of Programs

The length and cost of ultrasound technician programs vary:

  • Certificate Programs: Typically take 1 year to complete and cost between $5,000 and $25,000.
  • Associate Degree Programs: Generally 2 years long, with costs ranging from $10,000 to $40,000.
  • Bachelor’s Degree Programs: Usually take 4 years, with tuition costs between $30,000 and $80,000.

Average Starting Salary After Graduating

The starting salary for ultrasound technicians varies by location and experience but generally ranges from:

  • Entry-Level: Approximately $50,000 to $65,000 per year.
  • Experienced Technicians: Can earn between $70,000 and $90,000 annually.
  • Top Earners: In specialized fields or high-demand areas, salaries can exceed $90,000.

Steps to Certification & Licensing After Graduation

  1. Graduate from an Accredited Program: Ensure your program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
  2. Pass Certification Exams: Obtain certification from the ARDMS, Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI), or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
  3. Apply for State Licensing: If required by your state, submit your certification and any additional requirements to obtain a license.
  4. Maintain Certification: Engage in continuing education and renew your certification as required by the certifying body.

Top Players in Ultrasound Technician Education

Several institutions and organizations lead in ultrasound technician education:

  1. Johns Hopkins University: Offers high-quality education and extensive clinical training.
  2. Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science: Known for its comprehensive curriculum and hands-on experience.
  3. UCSD: Provides a robust program with a focus on practical skills.
  4. Seattle University: Offers a balanced program with theoretical and clinical components.
  5. NYU: Renowned for its strong emphasis on both education and practical training.

Current Promotions and Offers

Some ultrasound technician schools offer promotions and financial aid options:

  • Johns Hopkins University: Occasionally offers scholarships for high-achieving students.
  • Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science: Provides various financial aid options, including grants and scholarships.
  • UCSD: Frequently has financial aid packages and merit-based scholarships.
  • Seattle University: Offers financial assistance and work-study programs.
  • NYU: Provides need-based financial aid and scholarships for eligible students.