Just about everyone has either had an ultrasound to determine the sex of an unborn child or known someone who underwent the procedure. For many couples, it’s a huge milestone and joyous occasion where weeks of waiting and anticipating finally come to an end.
But that’s just one aspect of the ultrasound technician’s job. The use of ultrasound technology in prenatal care has become so widespread that it is now a household word and the specialty most people associate with the field. While many ultrasound technicians do work in obstetrician and gynecologist’s offices, there is also ample work in other doctor’s practices as well as hospitals, clinics medical and diagnostic laboratories, outpatient care centers and even some nursing homes.
Ultrasound technicians use radiology equipment to perform non-evasive tests where high-frequency sound waves are used to penetrate the body and compose moving imagery of a range of organs and other internal workings of the body. In practice, a wand is used to emit the sound waves that enter the body and bounce back after hitting solid objects. A computer reads the pulses and develops imagery that shows a detailed functional analysis.
For those aspiring to join the ranks as a healthcare professional, a career in ultrasound can be lucrative and in demand with significant opportunities for advancement. But it is important to have a thorough understanding of exactly what the profession has to offer and relative details of its practice.
To help inform readers, here are 5 useful facts about being an ultrasound technician:
- Producing pregnancy-related imagery is only one aspect of ultrasound radiology. Ultrasounds are also used to detect the source of pain, swelling, infection and bleeding involving a slew of internal organs including the liver, heart, bladder, thyroid gland, brain, spine and spleen among others.
- Ultrasound is a specialized field. While you may work to provide moving images of a fetus in the womb or the function of ovaries, technicians are not involved with general medical activities such as treatment of a run-of-the-mill yeast infection.
- The average annual salary of an ultrasound technician is over $30,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- The labor bureau has projected that the job growth potential over the next decade for ultrasound technicians is going to be significantly more than the average of other professions with similar educational requirements due in large part to the rapid influx of medical needs involving aging Baby Boomers.
- Ultrasound technicians typically attend accredited academic programs that last either two or four years for Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees, respectively. There are also educational opportunities in hospitals and vocational schools that may be pursued in lieu of a college program or to supplement such work.