Ultrasound technicians, sometimes referred to as diagnostic medical sonographers, use sophisticated medical equipment to generate ultra high frequency sound waves in order to produce images of internal body parts. Ultrasound technicians may specialize in specific body parts such as the brain and nervous system, the cardiovascular system, the breast, or the female reproductive system. Some ultrasound techs pursue training in additional imaging technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging or computer tomography. Most formal training programs for ultrasound technicians require candidates to hold a high school diploma or educational equivalent.
There are no set requirements for specific high school courses that must be taken by candidates for ultrasound technician training. Some formal training programs prefer applicants who completed high school level coursework in mathematics, science and health, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Formal training in ultrasound technology may be offered by vocational schools, technical institutions, community colleges, the military and some teaching hospitals. Most training programs require applicants to hold at least a high school diploma or educational equivalent such as a General Educational Development certificate.
High school college preparatory courses may be required for admission into a formal two-year associate degree program or four-year bachelor's degree program in ultrasound technology. The ACT recommends high school students who intend to pursue college-level studies take four years of English, three years of rigorous mathematics courses including algebra and geometry, biology, chemistry, physics, three years of social studies, two years of foreign language and optional studies in the arts and humanities.
Individual who wish to obtain ultrasound technician training through the military must meet the educational requirements for enlistment. Each branch of the U.S. armed forces has its own enlistment requirements, but all require candidates to hold a high school diploma. Few candidates who held only an educational equivalent such as a GED were accepted into the military service as of April 2011.
Sonography does not involve the application of radiation such as those produced by X-ray machines, so it is deemed much safer, particularly for pregnant women. Ultrasound technicians are not required to be licensed by any state, but many employers prefer to hire candidates who have formal training and are certified by an independent, non-governmental credentialing organization such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography or Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Ultrasound technicians who have credentials in multiple imaging disciplines should have better opportunities for employment and advancement, according to the BLS.