Why should you pursue the path of becoming a Sonographer? Well, it pays over thirty dollars an hour. It’s in the medical field so it’s always in demand.
It provides mental stimulation and you’ll get to help a lot of people. All you’ll need is an associate’s degree to get started. Once you have your degree in hand, you can go get your certification.
As you can see, it doesn’t take long to get going in this exciting career field. Check out this guide to learn more about how to become a sonographer so you can choose your program and get started.
What Is a Medical Sonographer?
When you think of an ultrasound, your mind most likely goes right to pregnant women but it has more uses than that. An experienced sonographer can use ultrasound equipment to diagnose all sorts of different conditions.
Once they collect the visualizations using their equipment, they analyze them and work with doctors to come up with treatment methods.
Like with any career, there are some educational requirements involved. You’ll need to at least obtain a two-year degree and undergo testing to get a certification in a specialization of your choice.
We’ll get into specializations in a bit. First, let’s go over what you should be looking for when hunting around for critical care ultrasound courses.
One way to know if the program you’re looking at is legit is to search for it on the Commission of Accreditation of Allied Health/Education Programs site. The CAAEP has over 150 accredited programs listed.
This includes programs that are offered by colleges and some that you can attend through hospital training.
Before you commit to a program, look at the admission requirements. Some bachelor programs require you to have certain credits in science and math before you attend, for example.
As we said above, ultrasounds aren’t only used in cases of pregnancy. They can be used to determine a wide array of medical conditions. So, it comes to reason that there are a lot of different branches within the sonography field.
Make sure that the school or program you’re looking at has the branch you want to go for.
Sonography is a technical job that requires you to be pretty hands-on. This means you need to choose the program that’s going to allow you to get as much hands-on experience as possible.
Choosing Your Specialty
So, you’ve narrowed down your program search to a few different schools. The deciding factor is going to be your specialty. Here are a few that you can pick from.
Abdominal sonographers use soundwaves to diagnose common conditions that occur in the kidneys, gall bladder, liver, spleen, pancreas, and abdominal aorta.
In order to become an abdominal sonographer, you’ll need to go through a two-year program, have on the job experience, and earn a certification.
A breast sonographer will use ultrasound technology to analyze the inner workings of the breast. This is commonly used to look for breast cancer and other abnormalities that were found during a physical breast exam or monogram.
To start down the path of becoming a breast sonographer, you’ll need to take a BR examination that will test your knowledge in the different areas of the breast. You’ll also be tested on how well you know the different abnormalities that can occur.
Neurosonography is a bit different than regular sonography. Instead of using traditional machines, it uses special frequency and beams to detect abnormalities in the brain and nervous system.
Once you finish your schooling, you’ll need to get a little bit of hands-on practice before you take the certification exam. When you think you’re ready, you can sign up for it by going through the ARDMS website.
Gynecological sonographers are probably the ones that you’re the most familiar with. These are the specialists who use an ultrasound to determine the condition of a pregnant mother and her unborn child.
You can sign up to take the OB/GYN examination through the ARDMS website. You’ll need to score at least a 555 out of 700 in order to pass and obtain your certification.
Echocardiographers use an ultrasound to look at a person’s heart. Using this ultrasound, they can determine the size and shape of someone’s heart as well as find out how well blood runs through it.
If you’re interested in echocardiography, you can take your exam either by going through ARDMS or Cardiovascular Credentialing International. In some states, you’ll need to receive your license before you can go through with the exam.
Vascular sonographers use high-frequency sound waves to evaluate blood vessels. For example, it can be used on the legs to determine if a vein is clogged.
To become a vascular sonographer, you must take and pass the general sonography principles exam and the vascular technology exam.
Musculoskeletal sonographers use ultrasounds to look for soft tissue issues such as tears and sprains. They do this by creating pictures of one’s muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments.
You can sign up to take the musculoskeletal sonographer examination through the ARDMS website. Before you can take it, you’ll need to meet the prerequisites by being licensed or by at least having some clinical experience.
How to Become a Sonographer and Start Your Career Today
That’s all there is to becoming a sonographer. It’s a lot of fast-paced work but if you can handle it, you’ll be well on your way to a rewarding career that you’ll love. We hope you’re able to use this guide on how to become a sonographer to get started.
To be successful in any medical career, you’ll need to stay up to date on the latest medical news. Check out our blog daily for more articles like this one.