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4 Ultrasound Tech Trends to Know

By Aimee Hosler,

Like most other health care professionals, ultrasound technicians must constantly adjust and adapt to changes in their field - whether it be improved technology to shifting requirements. Here are 4 major trends ultrasound technicians should keep on their radars.

1. Experts Say State Mandated Ultrasound Technician Licensure is on the Way

Until just last year, ultrasound technicians were not required to be licensed. According to the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS), that may be changing. In 2009, New Mexico and Oregon both passed laws requiring ultrasound technicians to be licensed, and other states are expected to follow suit.

Groups such as the SDMS are working with governments to ensure licensure changes impose minimum burden on working ultrasound technicians, but new requirements undoubtedly mean more work. Some important notes:

  • States are generally required to recognize existing national ultrasound technician certifications and credentials, though professional certifications do not replace licenses.
  • Ultrasound technicians will likely be required to pay a modest licensing fee. In New Mexico, for instance, techs must pay $100 every 2 years.
  • It is unclear whether ultrasound technicians will need to be licensed in their specific specialties or if a general license will do.

2. Ultrasound Technicians Are Moving Away from Hospitals

There was a time when the cost and applications of ultrasound technology limited its use to hospitals, which, of course, meant the bulk of ultrasound technicians worked in hospitals, too. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), cheaper technology and expanded use of sonography is opening new doors to ultrasound techs, primarily in physicians' offices, medical laboratories, and outpatient care centers.

3. Demand for Ultrasound Technicians Continues to Rise

It seems ultrasound technicians are always in demand, and the latest report from the BLS confirms that isn't going to change anytime soon. In fact, ultrasound technician careers are expected to grow by 18 percent between 2008 and 2018 -- that's faster than the national average for all occupations.

This growth is due in part to improved ultrasound technology that allows sonography to be used in areas that were once dominated by other, more expensive radiologic procedures. This, combined with an aging population requiring sonographic care leads to ultrasound careers being on the rise. Perhaps one of the biggest drivers, however, is the need to replace ultrasound technicians who are retiring or leaving the field. According to an August 2010 poll conducted by the American Registry for Medical Diagnostic Sonography, a staggering 82 percent of respondents expected to find new jobs within the next year.

4. New Restrictions on Ultrasound Technology Impact Private Techs

While demand for ultrasound technicians is on the rise overall, their employment in certain areas is less certain, namely in private business settings that conduct ultrasounds for non-medical purposes. Connecticut, for instance, recently passed legislation banning the use of fetal ultrasounds in private settings for personal keepsakes, including 2D and 3D fetal imaging and sex determination. Legislators were concerned that women obtaining excessive and unnecessary ultrasounds during their pregnancies could be endangering the fetus and themselves. While other states have yet to follow suit, other bans or restrictions are expected.

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