With the current economic recession, more and more people are finding themselves out of work and seeking new careers. While a layoff can be devastating, it can also be an opportunity to go back to school and gain retraining for a new, more secure career. One field that is expanding in job growth is the medical field. The position of ultrasound technician does not require a long education, but offers a high rate of job satisfaction. Ultrasound techs can attend school at a traditional college or an online university, with ultrasound technician training available in the U.S. and in Canada.
If you are considering going back to school, here are some tips on how to choose the right school for your ultrasound training.
The following are the things to consider when deciding on a career as an ultrasound technician:
The duties of an ultrasound technician. Ultrasound technicians utilize tools that employ sound waves to generate a picture of internal organs. The tech then views these images to diagnose a host of medical conditions. Some people choose to specialize in a certain area within this career. For example, an obstetric and gynecological sonographer tracks the progress of a growing fetus in the uterus. Other specializations include vascular sonographers that monitor and diagnose circulatory issues as well as abdominal sonographers who deal with the internal organs that rest in the abdominal cavity.
Salary. The average salary for an ultrasound technician is $50,000 per year. The specialty chosen as well as the work environment will have an impact on how much you can earn within the profession. The lowest paying jobs within this field are normally with a publicly funded hospital where a technician makes approximately $40,000 annually. Conversely, private hospitals have been known to pay $70,000 per year.
Ultrasound Tech Training
Public or Private? When you are looking for an ultrasound technician school, the first consideration is what kind of school you will attend. There are two basic routes for ultrasound technician training, public community college programs and private technical training schools. Each type of ultrasound school has its advantages and disadvantages, and only you can choose the ultrasound tech program that works for you.
What will this cost? The price difference between public and private ultrasound technician schools can be considerable. Generally, public college programs give you the most affordable education for the money. Daytime classes are typical, but ultrasound schools frequently will offer classes for working adults at times after work and on weekends. Any ultrasound courses that you take will give you credit towards a degree. On the other hand, private ultrasound schools will normally be more expensive because they do not receive any support from state or federal government education funding.
Is the school F.A.F.S.A. eligible? Most people require some form of financial aid in order to complete their ultrasound technician training program. To apply for most financial aid programs, every student aspiring to become an ultrasound technologist needs to fill out a free application for federal student aid, or F.A.F.S.A. If you choose to go to a community college, you can rest assured that your school has been accredited and the federal government has deemed it eligible for federal financial aid. Many private and technical schools also qualify for federal aid dollars. Before you enroll, always ask whether a school is accredited. If a school you are reviewing does not have a federal aid code, that is a big warning sign that it is not a quality program and perhaps you should seek out a more reputable school.
How long will this take? The downside to a traditional community college is the amount of time it takes to complete the required course load. Private, for-profit colleges and technical schools can offer programs that take as little as a few months. A public, community college will likely take closer to two years. You will pay a premium for this speed, however, when you choose to attend private and for-profit ultrasound tech schools. They often charge an additional 50-70% in tuition over community colleges. Online colleges are also an option; their certification courses can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years to complete.
Identify yourself as a professional in the trade. After completing courses to become an ultrasound technician you will need to register with the American Registry For Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).
What do I do next? The final step in the process is to get a job! To gain employment as an ultrasound technician you will need to inquire at local hospitals and doctor's offices for vacancies. You may even need to gain experience through an unpaid internship in order to get work.