With Americans living longer than ever, the health care industry may be a good place to start a career. If you are interested in joining this field, and enjoy working with cutting-edge technology, you might want to consider becoming an ultrasound technician. Also called sonographers, ultrasound techs create diagnostic imagery of patients' internal organs and other tissues. Physicians then use these images to diagnose, treat, and monitor a variety of medical conditions.
To obtain certification from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), you must graduate from a sonography training program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). There are four such schools in Virginia:
Associate degree programs typically include a general education requirement and prerequisites, including Math, English, and Psychology.
Students who graduate from a CAAHEP-accredited sonography program can expect to leave school prepared for ARDMS certification. While curriculum will vary by program, most include courses in:
Prerequisite coursework is also required, as are general education courses. Students often take psychology courses that help them in their work with patients. Some skills that graduates typically acquire through their sonography program include:
Finally, students should expect to begin working in a clinical environment during their second year of training. This may take place on campus or at a local health care facility, giving students the chance to work in real world settings using real world equipment under the supervision of a professional sonographer.
The state of Virginia strongly encourages students to pursue certification credentials through ARDMS to improve employability and earning potential. There are four certification options:
To apply for one of these credentials, you must submit a completed application along with the required fee, a Clinical Verification Form, and your transcript. Then, you'll need to pass the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation exam, as well as your chosen specialty exam. If you submit an incomplete application, ARDMS will return it to you. However, they do not reimburse the application fee.
The map below shows job statistics for the career type by metro area, for Virginia. A table below the map shows job popularity and salaries across the state.
Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Sonographers relative to the population of the city. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 23.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org
Annual Median Salary