What Can An Ultrasound Technician Expect To Earn?
An Ultrasound Technician performs a vital, varied and interesting role in the modern day medical diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of conditions. An ultrasound scan can provide life-saving information in the diagnosis of a variety of conditions including liver, heart, reproductive and kidney problems, it can even be used to break down kidney stones in the body and determine potential stroke victims by accurately measuring the flow of blood to the brain.
Although most well known as the means by which an unborn baby is viewed on a monitor, the scope and significance of Ultrasound in medical practice provides an opportunity for a lucrative and rewarding career. Typically the salary range for a qualified Ultrasound Technician is between $56,470 and $80,292. The expected salary for a practicing technician is $65,000 to $67,500 on average.
In order to qualify for a post in the medical field, a health related degree supplemented by registration with ARDMS, the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, is essential. Completion of a specialist Ultrasound Technology program is also helpful as is a Radiologic Technologist license.
Scans are performed with a highly sensitive probe. After the skin is cleansed and lubricating jelly is applied, a hand-held device is placed on the skin which emits sound waves above 20,000Hz, these bounce back in specific time frames known as echoes. These time frames can be used to calculate the depth to which the sound has traveled and can be processed by a computer to supply an image on screen providing shape and density.
Although the sound cannot be heard or felt by humans, dogs and cats can hear ultrasound, bats use it for navigation and also hunting. It is as efficient in science as it is in nature, to the extent where three dimensional images can be produced by powerful software programs. This allows for the swift and efficient diagnosis of any abnormalities in organs or a bonding and informative color picture of an unborn baby in the womb. Assessment of tumors in breasts and testes is another crucial use of this technology which can also be used internally in the vagina or rectum for clearer images to aid diagnoses. In the case of moving objects such as blood vessels, the signals, or echoes have a variation known as the Doppler Effect which is a very useful tool for checking the speed of the flow for abnormalities.
As a mostly external procedure, assessments and diagnoses can be made from scans without causing any damage to cells as in the case of X-rays. Additionally, the person performing the scan can be present throughout and also a family member or friend.
Although the scan is the at the core of the role, training in a variety of subjects is often mandatory in order to keep skills up to date and ensure that the equipment is safely operated at maximum efficiency. The computer linked to the probe does most of the work but calculations and analyses still need to be derived from the information and any suspicious masses must be specifically measured and subsequently added to carefully selected visuals which must be assessed for suitability before being sent up for viewing by a Consultant. The ability to spot the difference needs to be reinforced by physiology and anatomy knowledge and a grounding in medical physics plays an important part in understanding the instrumentation aspect of the role.
For a person who considers themselves patient and friendly as well as intelligent, confident and curious this is a lucrative, respectable and rewarding career option.