Ultrasound technicians are part of a specialized sector in the medical field that uses specific equipment to view internal images of the body's soft tissues, including abdominal organs and reproductive systems. The images created by this technology are called ultrasounds or sonograms, because they use the echoes of sound waves bouncing off soft tissue to create a computer image. Ultrasounds can be used on the stomach, heart, muscles, nervous system, and almost any other soft tissue.
With more than 140 acute care hospitals, Illinois has numerous opportunities for health care workers and technicians. Many schools and health care facilities are based in Chicago, the nation's third biggest city, but other large metro areas include Springfield, Peoria, and East St. Louis.
Illinois Ultrasound Technician Schools
Illinois sonography students have a number of options for training programs across the state. Though there are many programs in Chicago, down-state Illinois also boasts several accredited schools. Here are six institutions that offer formal education in the field:
- College of DuPage: This two-year college in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). DuPage offers associate degrees in sonography, as well as certificate programs in general diagnostic medical imaging and vascular sonography. The college has several campuses in other Chicago suburbs.
- Southern Illinois University Carbondale: This School of Allied Health at this university offers a CAAHEP-accredited four-year diagnostic medical sonography program. Graduating students have the opportunity to sit for national certification exams for abdominal and pregnancy-related credentials. SIU's program structure includes basic sciences, health-related courses, sonography courses, and clinical experience.
- Harper College: Located in Palatine, a northern Chicago suburb, this school's diagnostic medical sonography degree is a 71 hour-credit program focused on abdomen and pregnancy-related ultrasound work that also prepares students to pursue credentials from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Some work in vascular sonography is also part of the curriculum.
- Triton College: This two-year, public community college is located in River Grove, northwest of downtown Chicago. Their CAAHEP-accredited program helps prepare students for the fast-growing industry through sonography theory as well as lab and clinical instruction. Classes include anatomy, ultrasound physics, and patient relations.
- John A. Logan College: This community college located in Carterville in southern Illinois is part of the Illinois Community College System. It's CAAHEP-accredited diagnostic cardiac sonography program is a full-time, 18-month program with the goal of producing technicians specializing in cardiac sonography.
- Rush University: Associated with the Rush University Medical Center, this school offers a two-year bachelor's degree in vascular ultrasound that consists of traditional classes, lab work, and clinical work at the medical center.
What to Expect from Illinois Sonography Programs
Because the ultrasound field requires both technical skill and caregiving practice, formal education is a necessary part of becoming an ultrasound technician. Students wanting to start their career in Illinois have several options for training including two- and four-year programs.
Depending on your interests, many schools allow you to focus your education on a certain area of the body by taking the corresponding classes. Most programs also have a clinical component where students learn from a professional ultrasound technician.
Students can expect to develop skills in operating ultrasound equipment, interpreting and summarizing ultrasound images, and working with patients. Courses may include:
- Ultrasound physics
- Medical terminology
- Health ethics
- Sonographic specialties
Illinois Ultrasound Technician Licensing and Certification
Employers often prefer graduates of programs accredited by the CAAHEP. While Illinois does not require sonographers to be licensed, most professionals obtain certification via the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) or Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). These certifications are awarded after passing the related exams administered by either organization. Certain areas of sonography have optional associated certifications as well. Most sonography technicians obtain at least one such credential.
Resources for Illinois Ultrasound Technicians