How to Become an Ultrasound Technician: The Ultimate Guide

Are you floored by the cost of higher education, especially if you want to become an ultrasound technician or a medical sonographer? You can be proactive in lowering the total cost of your education by seeking schools that cut costs by providing online courses and home study programs and searching for grants and scholarships. If you don’t go after them, someone else will get the money you deserve.

Scholarships: Why You Need Them and How to Get Them

Since students need an undergraduate health care degree before they enter a clinical sonography program, the cost of an education for this profession adds up. But, remember that the higher degree and special training also may lead to higher-paying jobs within a specialty such as ultrasound and sonography. If you choose a good school and maintain a high grade point average, you may realize a better salary in the long run.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, faster-than-average employment growth is expected for diagnostic medical sonographers. Job opportunities should be favorable through 2016, which provides plenty of time to research scholarships and grants and to finalize your degree. Your search for scholarships and grants can be productive and fun; the fun part is realizing that none of this money needs to be repaid.

You might be surprised at the opportunities available to students who seek health care degrees such as allied health and medical assisting, as this field is growing in demand to an aging population that needs health care services. You may find grants and scholarships designed specifically for health care students based upon merit (good grades) or upon need (poor financial status). You can apply for money through government-based financial aid resources such as FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or through state-based programs. Various colleges also offer scholarships to attend their schools, and if your high grades are any indication of your future as a college student, those colleges may help you find a way to finance your studies.

Financial Aid for Students in Any Discipline

You also could find money through other sources that aren’t designed specifically for health care studies. If you are the daughter or son of a U.S. military veteran, or if you are a veteran or current military servicemember, resources may be available to you. If you or your parents belong to a fraternal organization or to a specific religion, you may find college money there as well. Other resources include incentives for disabled individuals, ethnic groups and for people who are descendants of soldiers who fought in the American Revolution. The resources seem endless, and it takes time to discover them all – but it can be worth the effort, even if you receive enough to pay for your books for one year.

There are a few web sites that all prospective students should visit to get an idea of the publicly funded financial aid that may be available to them. Governmental scholarships can take a huge chunk out of your overall school bills, and that’s something anyone can be grateful for. Sites that every forward looking college student should explore include:

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): This is the portal to all government financial aid except GI benefits. Stafford loans, Perkins loans, and Pell Grants are all awarded based on your FAFSA application.
  • This is the hub for all the info you need about what kind of financial aid the government will give you. Thorough explanations of governmental loans, grants, and eligibility requirements are all available at this site.
  • The GI Bill: The Veterans Affairs website offers details about exact benefits and eligibility for the Post 9/11 GI Bill for veterans and current servicemembers in the U.S. armed forces.
  • The Internal Revenue Service Website: The IRS offers a few tax credits to take the edge off of your educational expenses. This link will take you to an FAQ about how much money you can save on taxes while you’re getting an education.

The graph below illustrates the maximum dollar amount available to one student anually through various governmental education financial aid programs.

Of course, the government and outside private sources aren’t your only options for scoring educational financial aid. The support of friends and family is important at every juncture, throughout your education and into your career, and sometimes that support can take financial form. Asking for money can be hard, but there are services and software that can help you manage loans from friends and family fairly. Getting a low interest loan from someone who wants to see you succeed can be the tipping point for helping you afford college. Don’t ignore this possible resource.

Encouraging Job Growth and Earnings for Ultrasound Techs

If the cost, both in time and money, of getting a degree seems like more than it is worth, consider the stunning job and salary growth in the field of diagnostic medical sonography in the past years, and the projected growth over the next six years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects over 9,000 new jobs to be created by 2018, an 18% increase in total jobs. Salaries are on the rise as well, with an increase of over $4,000 in median annual wages for diagnostic medical sonographers between 2006 and 2008, when it was $62,340 (in the offices of physicians) and slightly less in general hospitals.

Although you may need to take on debt to complete your education, the salary that will be available to you will let you easily pay off your loans while having plenty of money to pay living expenses and even save for the future.

Leveraging Your Scholarships: How to Get the Most Bank for Your Buck

Loans are complicated, and even when it seems like you understand what you’re getting into, there are probably financial equations under the surface that aren’t completely obvious. Here’s one crucial way to minimize the overall amount that you pay for educational loans:

  • Know Your Interest Rates: Government education loans (to students) have a maximum interest rate of 6.8%. Parent PLUS loans, which your parents can take out for you to help pay for education, can go up to 8.5%. Use a financial planner or just a good old spreadsheet to calculate how much interest you’ll end up paying, based on the total amount of your loans. You can use this information to lower your costs if you…
  • Understand Interest Capitalization: Interest capitalization is what happens when the interest that has accrued on your loans is added to the initial amount, also called the principle. If you let interest capitalize, you end up paying interest on interest, which can compound over the years to make your total bill thousands of dollars more than you thought it would be, but you can avoid this by…
  • Paying Off Interest When it Accrues: If you figure out how much interest will accrue on your loans each semester, by multiplying the total amount of your loans by the interest rate for that time period, and pay that amount each semester, you’ll stop the interest from capitalizing, and save yourself money over time. These amounts will be smaller than an actual loan payment, but will have ripple effects on your total costs over the loan repayment period.
  • Make Payments on Time: OK, OK, that one is obvious. But it really makes a difference. Making monthly payments on time will save you big bucks on late fees, increased interest, and accumulating bills. One good way to make sure you’re always timely is to set up an automatic payment plan, so the money just gets sucked out of your bank account each month without you having to do anything.

Now that you know how to go about applying for scholarships, where to find good ones, and how to manage your money once you’ve got them, it is time to get into a school that has what you need, and start taking classes. Use the widget embedded in this article to find a degree program in medical assisting or imaging, or an allied health program that feels right, and send in your application!

Top Online Health Services Programs

Adventist University of Health Sciences
BS in Radiologic Sciences
Adventist University of Health Sciences — Founded in 1992, the Adventist University of Health Sciences is formerly the Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences, a school focused on privding higher education in the several fields of healthcare. The BS in Health Information Technology program prepares students to become radiologic technicians. Adventist University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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