Ultrasound Technician Training

How to Become an Ultrasound Technologist

Ultrasound technician training programs are varied in several ways, depending on the degree being pursued, the specialty, if there is one, and the technological capabilities of the school.

Though there is no level of education that is more universally accepted than another, most ultrasound students finish 24- to 48-month training programs to gain an associate's or bachelor's degree in diagnostic medical sonography. Special one-year certificate programs also exist for students who are already trained in a field of health care, making it easier for other medical professionals to pursue ultrasound as a second occupation.

Ultrasound programs can be offered by the sonography or radiology departments of medical colleges and universities, or through the generally more affordable programs at junior colleges and career institutes. Here you can find a list of recommended ultrasound schools.

Ultrasound Curriculum

Programs are usually broken up into three sections: the classroom portion, the lab portion, and the final externship. Each course may have a classroom section consisting of a lecture, and a lab portion consisting of clinical instruction.

Some common course subjects include:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Ultrasound Principles
  • Radiology
  • Instrumentation
  • Basic Physics
  • Patient Care
  • Medical Ethics

The specific course content of an ultrasound program may vary depending on the student's specialty, and some schools' courses vary arbitrarily.

The clinical externship usually follows the completion of the curriculum, and may span a few months or the entire final semester of the program.

Ultrasound Technician Certification

After graduation, ultrasound technicians may choose to enhance their employability by becoming nationally registered by an organization such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).

Students are usually prepared to take the necessary certification exam upon graduating, though continuing education is a requirement to maintain certification. Organizations such as the ARDMS and the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) can provide students and professionals with a wealth of useful information regarding training, registration and new developments in the field.

Click to see an ultrasound technician job description, and salary figures.