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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.

Virginia Ultrasound Technician Schools

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:

  • Northern Virginia Community College: Located in Springfield, this school offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Students take a variety of general education courses in addition to their core classes, and graduates leave prepared to take the ARDMS certification exams.

  • Piedmont Virginia Community College: The class of 2016 at PVCC earned a 100 percent pass rate on its ARDMS exams, with 91 percent finding employment within six months of graduation.

  • Southside Regional Medical Center: This school, located in Petersburg, offers an Associate of Applied Science program which lasts approximately 57 weeks. Graduates leave prepared to take the abdomen and OB/GYN ARDMS exams.

  • Tidewater Community College: TCC in Norfolk also offers students an Associate degree in Sonography. Over the past three years, 100 percent of graduates passed ARDMS certification exams on their first attempt.

Associate degree programs typically include a general education requirement and prerequisites, including Math, English, and Psychology.

What to Expect from Virginia Sonography Programs

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:

  • Human anatomy
  • Pathology
  • Physics
  • Physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Patient care skills
  • Communication skills

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:

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • How to provide quality patient care
  • Proficiency in using ultrasound equipment

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.

Virginia Ultrasound Technician Licensing and Certification

The state of Virginia strongly encourages students to pursue certification credentials through ARDMS to improve employability and earning potential. There are four certification options:

  • Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
  • Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer
  • Registered Vascular Technologist
  • Registered Musculoskeletal Sonographer

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.

Resources for Virginia Ultrasound Technicians

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Job Popularity in Metro Areas for Sonographers

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.

Metro Areas Rated for Popularity for:
Sonographers

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

Metro Area
Jobs
Annual Median Salary
Charlottesville70 $74,420
Blacksburg-Christiansburg-RadfordN/A N/A
Lynchburg40 $68,110
Richmond320 $69,270
Roanoke70 $71,360

Sources:

  1. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/diagnostic-medical-sonographers.htm, accessed October 18, 2016
  2. CAAHEP Accredited Programs, CAAHEP, http://www.caahep.org/Find-An-Accredited-Program/, accessed October 18, 2016
  3. Get Certified, ARDMS, http://www.ardms.org/get-certified/Pages/default.aspx, accessed October 18, 2016
  4. Ultrasound Jobs in Virginia, Indeed, http://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=Ultrasound&l=virginia, accessed October 18, 2016

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