Ultrasound Technician Certification

One of the most trusted diagnostic imaging techniques in the health care field is ultrasound. It is safe and effective when compared with x-rays or nuclear medicine. It is famous for its use in capturing the first images that pregnant mothers see of their unborn children. It has many uses beyond obstetrics and gynecology, however. It is used to diagnose disorders of the gastrointestinal system, the respiratory system, and any other internal system that might be suffering from illness or injury. Ultrasound involves emitting high frequency sound waves that create an image of a bodyís internal system when they bounce off different densities of matter. It is a growing field that should have robust employment growth. Ultrasound technician certification is one way that qualified professionals can stand out from others in their field.

No state requires that ultrasound technicians be licensed or certified in order to work in the field. Certification offers distinct advantages to the holder, however. Certification is a symbol of perseverance in learning all of the necessary skills of the ultrasound profession. Employers are familiar with the reputation of the certifying agency even if they are not familiar with the ultrasound school from which an applicant has graduated. Certification is a way for ultrasound technicians to prove their competency.

The main certification agency in the United States is the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). This organization is run by professional sonographers, physicians, and research scientists who have conducted extensive research into industry best practices. They have interviewed professionals, studied the curriculum standards of ultrasound schools, and gathered information from hospitals and other health care institutions. They have created an exam that test the knowledge of sonographers across many competencies. They offer several different credentials to ultrasound technicians and specialists in sonography.

The main exam is called the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) exam. To achieve ARDMS certification, passing this test is the first hurdle. There are four main competencies tested, along with some minor ones. Physics is one of the four major competencies. Question test a candidateís knowledge of sound waves, how to measure them, and their effects. The next three major competencies deal with instrumentation, the machines and equipment that ultrasound technicians, including ultrasound transducers, pulse-echo instrumentation, and Doppler instrumentation. The minor competencies have questions about patient care and communication. After all, part of an ultrasound technicianís responsibilities is helping patients prepare for ultrasound tests and explaining results to them. There are also safety questions about the machines and ultrasound in general.

There are other exams that can be taken to receive specialty certification. There are exams for ultrasound techniques imaging the abdomen and the breasts. There is a fetal echocardiology exam. There is a special obstetrics and gynecology exam. There is an exam for neurosonology. There are also exams for specialists who want more specific credentials. There is a certification for diagnostic cardiac sonographers and for ultrasound technicians who work primarily with the musculoskeletal system.

Before taking a certification exam, candidates must provide proof of educational attainment. There are also work experience requirements for many of the exams offered by the ARDMS. All education and experience must be properly documented. Certification only lasts for a few years. There are continuing education requirements for recertification to ensure that ultrasound technicians stay abreast of changes in the field, new government regulations, and advances in ultrasound technology. Recertification is also a time to take a different exam proving expertise in new skills. Adding certifications can help ultrasound technicians advance in their field, seek new job opportunities, and get promotions.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014