Ultrasound Technician Schools

As one of the fastest-growing professions in the nation, ultrasound technicians, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, are likely to see great job prospects once they have that license in hand. This guide can offer a great starting point for those who are exploring the possibility of a career in ultrasound.

Which related careers are projected to grow at the fastest rate?

Those who choose to work as an ultrasound technician might see excellent job prospects, compared with other occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of diagnostic medical sonographers to grow by a whopping nationally 46 percent from 2012 to 2022. Cardiovascular technologists can also expect to see growth of 39 percent during that same period. In related fields, good job growth is projected through 2022 for health technologists and technicians at 24 percent nationally, magnetic resonance imaging technicians at 21 percent and nuclear medicine technologists at 20 percent, according to the BLS.

Why are ultrasound technicians in such high demand?

There are several factors that will drive employment growth for sonographers. As the baby boom generation ages, the demand for medical services will increase. Ultrasound technology is a noninvasive procedure that can often be done at hospitals on an outpatient basis, or even in the office of a physician; this will be used more often in the future as the need for outpatient care rises, and as insurance companies might also push medical facilities to rely on less-expensive, noninvasive diagnostic procedures. Finally, changes in federal health legislation will give better access to insurance, and thus more patients will be coming to doctors for testing.

Where are sonographers expected to see the best job growth?

According to state data aggregated by Projections Central, diagnostic medical sonographers are predicted to see particularly excellent job growth in the Western U.S., though other areas have strong projections as well. The 10 states with the best expected job growth through 2020 are:

  • Montana: 57.6%
  • Idaho: 56.6%
  • Arizona: 55.5%
  • Texas: 51.9%
  • Maine: 49.6%
  • Georgia: 48.5%
  • Alabama: 47.8%
  • Oklahoma: 46%
  • Utah: 44.3%
  • Kansas: 43.2%

Why are ultrasound technician programs well-suited for working professionals?

Colleges and universities offer associate's and bachelor's degrees in sonography, but those who are already working in the health field may opt for simply a certificate, which is typically completed in less time than a degree. All of these degree options are available in traditional classroom settings, online programs or a hybrid of the two. Online and hybrid options are tailored so working professionals can continue in their current position while earning their degree at their own pace -- an important point for those who not only have work concerns, but also need to juggle family obligations and other commitments as well.

How can students ensure that they get the best ultrasound technician experience possible?

One of the most important factors in choosing the right school is accreditation. Look for a school or program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Accreditation means a school or program has met the educational standards necessary to be considered a good-quality program. Some colleges and universities will only accept transfer credits if they come from an accredited school, and many financial aid programs will only give awards to those who attend accredited programs, so it is a very important part of getting the best education possible and beginning this career path on the right foot.

Who offers financial resources for ultrasound technician students?

In many cases, those in ultrasound technician programs might be eligible for some financial aid. The money for education comes from the federal, state and local level, and it can include grants, scholarships, loans, work-study opportunities and even veterans benefits. But there are also other avenues of financial aid that students who enter sonography programs specifically can consider applying for. Two examples include the Jerman-Cahoon Student Scholarship, a $2,500 award for entry-level students given by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, and the Anne Jones Scholarship, offered by the Society for Vascular Ultrasound. In addition to checking with top organizations, look for scholarships offered on the local and state level.

What transfer options are available to students who enroll in ultrasound technician programs?

Many students might opt for community college when pursuing their ultrasound technician degree. Community college programs can offer credits that transfer to a four-year university, and often cost much less. To ensure that credits will transfer, make sure the college is accredited, and check into any transfer agreements between the two schools. To get started, contact the admissions office of the schools you're interested in.

How can you receive additional information about ultrasound technician schools or programs?

To learn more about ultrasound technician programs, start by browsing through accredited schools that offer the associate's degree, bachelor's degree or certificate for sonography. Further information on graduation rates, financial aid, schedules and more can be obtained by getting in touch with the admissions office.

Sources:

Allied Health Education Programs, Commission on Accreditation,
http://www.caahep.org/Find-An-Accredited-Program/

Current Entry-Level Scholarships, American Society of Radiologic Technologists,
http://www.asrtfoundation.org/Content/Scholarships_and_Awards/Entry_Level_Scholarships/CurrentEntryLevelScholarships.aspx

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, "Occupational Outlook Handbook: 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014,
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/diagnostic-medical-sonographers.htm#tab-1

Long-Term Projections for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Projections Central,
http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm

Anne Jones Scholarship, Society for Vascular Ultrasound,
http://www.svunet.org/students/annejonesscholarship