Different Ultrasound Technician Certifications You Should Know About

One of the fastest growing fields in the medical industry is ultrasound technology. Every day there are hundreds of openings in this exciting field.  To get a job as an ultrasound technician, you will need one of the ultrasound technician certifications. This exciting field entails a variety of specialties. You can get one of the basic ultrasound technician certifications and then continue on to specialize in a specific type of ultrasound.

Since it is such a wide field, it is important for you to understand all of your choices as you continue your education. If you do not already know about ultrasound technician certifications and ultrasound technicians, you might have questions.

Ultrasound Technician


In order to understand what an ultrasound technician is and later what ultrasound technician certifications are, you first have to understand what an ultrasound is.

What Is An Ultrasound?


Ultrasound technician checking patient

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Ultrasounds are one of the most common imaging procedures. The ultrasound machine uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the body’s internal organs. These waves are like those used in sonar and other forms of external imaging. Decades ago, scientists found that they could view objects by bouncing sound waves off of them. The same concept is used when trying to view the internal structures of the body.


When these high-frequency sound waves are bounced off internal structures, it allows physicians to see abnormalities, normal function, and other medical issues. Like the x-rays used for bones, ultrasounds produce a clear image, but unlike x-rays, ultrasounds do not use harmful radiation. This is why it is useful in taking a good look at an unborn baby. There are no known side effects to an ultrasound.


The process of getting an ultrasound is very simple. The equipment ranges from simple to complex depending on the type of ultrasound and the organs. A technician spreads a sound conductive gel onto the area to be imaged. Then runs a sound producing wand over the area. The image is then projected on a screen, and a video or still pictures are saved.

What Is An Ultrasound Technician?


Medical ultrasound monitor

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An ultrasound technician is very simply a person who holds one of the ultrasound technician certifications. They are the people who do the procedure and then send the results back to the doctor. They are usually not responsible for reading the ultrasound images, although some types of ultrasound technician certifications allow them to do so. As with most medical personnel, ultrasound technicians require some education and certification regardless of their specialty.


These certifications also require a specific amount of continuing education so that the technicians can stay up-to-date on the latest technology and best practices available. The majority of ultrasound technician certifications do not require any degree other than the certification, but it is not unusual for them to be also nurses, x-ray technicians, and other healthcare practitioners. A sonographer and sonography are other terms for ultrasound technicians and ultrasounds, respectively.

Different Types Of Ultrasound Technician Certifications


As with any certification, ultrasound technician certifications have a variety of specialties within the field. These specialties vary greatly depending on the type of imaging, the type of work environment, and other factors.

1

Abdominal And Genitourinary Sonography

Abdominal and genitourinary sonography is imaging of the abdominal cavity, the urinary system including the kidneys, and genitals. This type of sonography assists doctors in determines abnormalities in organs like the liver, stomach, intestines, spleen, kidneys, and esophagus. In some cases, an abdominal ultrasound tech will help doctors during surgery by taking images of vital organs as the doctor operates. This is one of the more difficult types of ultrasound sonography.

2

Breast Sonography

Abdominal and genitourinary sonography is imaging of the abdominal cavity, the urinary system including the kidneys, and genitals. This type of sonography assists doctors in determines abnormalities in organs like the liver, stomach, intestines, spleen, kidneys, and esophagus. In some cases, an abdominal ultrasound tech will help doctors during surgery by taking images of vital organs as the doctor operates. This is one of the more difficult types of ultrasound sonography.


Breast sonography detects breast cancer in both men and women. Although most men do not think about it, it is entirely possible for them to have abnormal breast tissue. In women, breast sonography detects breast cancer more accurately and more reliably than traditional mammograms with none of the discomfort associated with the procedure. As a breast sonographer, you may be working in hospitals, clinics, and possibly a gynecologist’s office.

3

Cardiovascular And Vascular Sonography

Cardiovascular and vascular sonography is the practice of looking at the veins, arteries, and heart. As you age, plaque builds up around the heart and in the major veins and arteries in the body. This is a minimally invasive way to look at specific parts of the circulatory system. A cardiovascular and vascular sonographer uses an ultrasound machine to make sure that the circulatory system is functioning properly.


Sometimes when someone comes into the emergency room with chest pain, the doctor will order an ultrasound of the heart or other areas to determine whether or not a heart attack is imminent. As a cardiovascular sonographer, you might work in an emergency room, doctors, office, independent imaging center, or hospital.

4

Echocardiography And Pediatric Fetal Echocardiography

Echocardiography and pediatric fetal echocardiography is the ultrasound type that takes highly specific pictures and videos of the heart. The study of echocardiography often entails pediatric and fetal tests as well. This practice is vital in diagnosing abnormal conditions in the heart and can help to prevent heart attacks and heart disease in both adults and children.

5

Musculoskeletal Sonography

Musculoskeletal sonography is a form of sonography that involves muscles and how they interact with the skeleton. When you have a musculoskeletal ultrasound technician certification, you will usually be working with people who have soft tissue and muscle injuries that cannot be diagnosed with traditional x-rays. This form is practiced in clinics, emergency rooms, hospitals, and sports medicine facilities.

6

Neurosonography

Neurosonography is an ultrasound of the brain, spinal cord, or the nervous system. Neurosonographers play an important role in determining the severity of neurological damage and whether that damage can be repaired. This is a relatively new use of ultrasound technology. It helps to diagnose strokes as well as patients who are at risk for strokes before the event happens. A neurosonography saves lives on a daily basis by helping physicians prevent things like strokes and other cerebral events. It can also help physicians determine the extent of neurological damage after a traumatic accident or injury.

7

Obstetric And Gynecological Sonography

Ultrasound images

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This is one of the most common types of sonography and often one of the first things many people think of when they hear the word ultrasound. An obstetric and gynecological sonography or obstetric and gynecological ultrasound technician certifications allow you to take images to find out if a person is pregnant. It also allows you to help track fetal growth, progress, and the health of a newly created baby.


It takes a caring and compassionate individual to work as an obstetric and gynecological sonographer due to the heightened emotions that people often experience when they are expecting a child. In gynecological sonography, you would be required to perform ultrasounds end of the pelvic region to make sure that everything is functioning normally. It is sometimes necessary to get a better view of these regions to check to see if everything is functioning normally. Most of the time, gynecological sonographers are also obstetric sonographers.

8

Ophthalmologic Sonography

Ophthalmologic sonography is an ultrasound of the eye and ocular cavity. This type of sonographer provides valuable information to an ophthalmologist before, after, and sometimes during eye surgery. This can detect abnormalities, tumors, injury and other damage to the eye socket or the actual eye. In this case, you can practice ophthalmological sonography in hospitals, emergency rooms, physician’s offices, and clinics.

Requirements


Couple holding baby ultrasound

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For any of these ultrasound technician certifications, you will need at least a high school diploma and the certification from a reputable ultrasound or sonography school. Each certification usually requires between 12 and 18 months of education and then clinical experience. Some of the more advanced certifications require more school, more clinical time, and possibly a degree.


Some programs require at least an associates degree in a medical field before you can get the certification while others require a high school education and the certification training. There are specific associates degree and bachelor degree programs for sonography. Each career track has its own requirements, regulations, and certifications.


Many times it is best to get one of the standard ultrasound technician certifications, decide if you enjoy the work, hours, and locations, then look into either further certification or a degree program. In all forms of ultrasound technician certifications, you will need to take part in clinical education or work at a hospital or office during your training, and continuing education so you can stay up-to-date on the latest practices.

Conclusion


Woman holding ultrasound result

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The field of ultrasound technology is rapidly growing and evolving field. The job outlook for those with ultrasound technician certifications is a definitely a promising one. Ultrasound technicians are not as hands-on as nurses but still involved in almost every aspect of the human body. If you want to get into medicine or medical technology but do not want day-to-day patient care to consider this as an alternative to nursing. As a person with one of the ultrasound technician certifications, you could save lives, help new lives, and have a rewarding career.


The field of ultrasound technology is rapidly growing and evolving field. The job outlook for those with ultrasound technician certifications is a definitely a promising one. Ultrasound technicians are not as hands-on as nurses but still involved in almost every aspect of the human body. If you want to get into medicine or medical technology but do not want day-to-day patient care to consider this as an alternative to nursing. As a person with one of the ultrasound technician certifications, you could save lives, help new lives, and have a rewarding career.

Featured image by EVG photos via Pexels.

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