The length of your education depends on your career goals. To get started in a career as an ultrasound tech, you need a minimum of two years at an accredited allied health educational institution. There are schools available both online and offline that are able to provide you with this associate’s degree in sonography. Afterward, you’ll need to complete at least one year of full-time clinical experience, which means that you’ll be working, but under closer supervision of your superiors to ensure that you’re getting all the hands-on training you need for the job. You can then register with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
The job market, however, is getting more and more competitive. Therefore, many students are opting for a longer four-year program in sonography to get their bachelor’s degree in a field such as medical technology or medical imaging. In either case, there are no state or national licensing requirements for ultrasound techs, but many employers prefer to see registration, which requires you to take an exam after completing your training.
As you’re working in your field as an ultrasound tech, you can decide to advance even beyond a four-year bachelor’s degree education. There are currently no master’s degrees in sonography, but you may want to go on to get your Master of Health Administration, which will qualify you for more advanced management positions. In addition, there are a number of certificate programs available for ultrasound techs who want to specialize. For example, you could get advanced training to become a registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer, or cardiovascular technician, which would increase your marketability when job-hunting. Specializing means that you’re qualified for positions that pay higher salaries and are more prestigious, so this is a good route after you’ve worked in the field for a few years.
Although most ultrasound techs choose an educational route that lasts two years or four years, the great thing about online education is that you can work at your own pace. So, if you already have a two-year associate’s degree in sonography, for example, you can work on your bachelor’s degree in medical technology or health informatics over the course of three or four additional years as a part-time student, rather than trying to cram your education into two more years. This makes it possible for you to continue to work and even raise a family while going to school.
In general, the education is worth the payoff. When your education is complete, you’ll most likely have student loans, but with a $50,000+ paycheck, it is easy to repay those loans on time or even ahead of schedule. Of course, even if your first job doesn’t come attached to such a high paycheck, this is a great career path simply because there are many jobs available across the country, and the medical field is continually expanding. Some employers will even pay for your schooling if you commit to working there for a certain number of time, so that they benefit from the new knowledge you gain.
Getting the credentials to be an ultrasound tech doesn’t have to take long, but different educational paths yield different results, and there are ways to plan your program that will yield the best results at the lowest cost and time usage. A few ways you can diminish the financial burden and time cost of school, while still getting a great education are:
Anyone looking into higher education, for sonography or any other field, should explore the financial aid options available to them. The U.S. government offers numerous scholarships, grants, and tax credits, as well as benefits for members of the armed forces, to help people get a degree and enter the skilled workforce. Some options you can look into include:
It helps to have a light at the end of your tunnel when you’re in school and it feels like it will be forever before you can get a job and start paying off those student loans. Here are some encouraging facts about the employment and salary scene for well-trained ultrasound technicians.
If you’re looking at how long it takes to become a working, professional ultrasound technician, you have to include job search time in the equation.The graph below indicates how long most people search for a job before either finding one or dropping out of the workforce entirely. The trend depicted is general, and not specific to the relatively high growth field of sonography.
In the end, the benefits of getting a few years of education in sonography far outweigh the losses, and anyone who is serious about advancing in the career should not shortchange themselves by taking too little schooling or avoiding somewhat costly certification or registration fees. If you are ready to get started on your diagnostic medical sonography education now, use the widget below to find a school that can meet your needs.