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A Career as a Sonogram Technician

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An Ultrasound Technician or sonographer is a healthcare professional who conducts ultrasound examinations to help physicians diagnose and screen medical conditions. A sonogram technician employs medical equipment using sound waves to capture images of internal tissues within the human body. These images are then used to diagnose such conditions such as cancer or heart disease, or to monitor fetal development in pregnancies.

Once an image suitable for diagnostic purposes has been captured correctly, the sonographer analyzes the ultrasound data. A sonographer's duties often include the gathering and record keeping of patient histories, including computerized image archiving. Sonographers may also assist with electronic clerical scheduling, and as they advance in their careers they may also have managerial and supervisorial duties.

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Education & Certification Requirements

The most common way to launch a career in sonography is to complete an associate degree program. These degrees are offered by community colleges, technical schools, and allied health organizations. They include course work in medical science, anatomy, physiology, and physics, as well as clinical techniques for selecting beam strength and direction and properly situating patients. Bachelor's programs in sonography and medical technology are also solid preparation for this career. These longer degrees commonly train students in other diagnostic tools as well, such as radiography and mammography. Students in these longer programs also have the opportunity to take a greater variety of general liberal arts courses. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs is the most important accrediting body for these two and four year programs in sonography.

A few schools also offer one year certificate programs in sonography. These are most useful for current professionals in the healthcare world, who would like to increase their diagnostic skill set by learning proper sonographic techniques.

There are no mandatory certification exams or licenses that sonographers are legally required to complete in order to be hired. However, ultrasound technicians with one of the recognized voluntary credentials will certainly have better job opportunities. These certifications are offered by professional organizations, after applicants have completed the requisite academic preparation and passed the organization's exam. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography offers the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer credential in several specialized areas; the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists also offers a credential, as does Cardiovascular Credentialing International. (BLS)

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