Ultrasound technician or Radiologist – Which is More Difficult?
What is a radiologist?
A radiologist diagnoses and treats conditions using imaging techniques like x-rays, CT and MRI. As an ultrasound technician, they use specialist equipment to take images of the inside of the human body. Because some techniques a radiologist uses involves radiation, additional training is required.
X-ray waves are sent into the body, and they can pass through soft tissues like the organs of a human body. X-ray waves are absorbed by the more dense materials like bone.
Passing these waves through the body creates an image. Dark areas are the soft tissues, and light areas are the more dense materials. So, you can see the skeleton on an x-ray whereas you can’t as easily see muscles.
How to become a radiologist
To start on the journey down this career path, there is certain radiologist education requirements that need to be fulfilled. First, you must attain a bachelor’s degree before you can attend medical school.
Make sure you are attending an accredited program. You also need to ensure that the college you are attending will be accepted by medical schools.
To enable you to get into medical school and be accepted by your preferred school you will need to take the MCAT. This stands for Medical Colleges Admission Test. The MCAT tests your ability to problem solve, your ability to think critically and scientific and medical knowledge.
Before you can become a radiologist, you need to have qualified as a doctor. Then you can become a radiologist.
There are different degree options you can select, each option having its benefits. After that, you will then have to complete a 4-year radiology residency. So, how long does it take to become a radiologist? All in all, it’s going to take you about 12 years to become fully qualified.
So, how much do radiologist’s make? Once you are fully qualified, the average salary is $250,000 a year. The starting salary is in the region of $130,000 a year, stretching to nearly $400,000 when you have some experience under your belt.
Yes, it takes a long time to train for it, but once you are qualified, you will be rewarded.
What is an ultrasound technician?
An ultrasound technician (also known as a sonographer) is a medical professional who takes images if the internal human body.
They use specialized equipment to send sound waves into a patient’s body. When these sound waves reach something, say a bone or an organ, they bounce back or echo. These echoes are what create the image of the inside of the human body.
An ultrasound technician doesn’t just scan mums-to-be to create an image of their unborn baby. There are lots of different specializations within sonography. Obstetric sonography is the most well-known as it is the one we come across most often.
Most people will have seen it portrayed on TV, seen pictures or have seen it first-hand. But ultrasound technicians also take images of the heart, the stomach, the skeleton and much more. These images are then used to assist with diagnoses and treatment of conditions.
How to become an ultrasound technician
To become an ultrasound technician you will need to study for an associate’s degree in the field. This level will usually take around two years to complete. During these two years, you will undergo classroom and practical training.
You will need to spend around 1000 hours in a clinical setting before you can complete your degree. You will spend this time with a qualified ultrasound technician.
When looking at your degree, make sure it is an accredited program. As ultrasound/sonography is not considered a dangerous practice, it is not as heavily regulated as other medical degrees are. This means there could be some programs out there that are not accredited.
If you gain a degree from a course which is not accredited, it will be hard for you to find a job. Understandably, employers much prefer employing those who have attended an accredited course.
Getting a job as an ultrasound technician
The salary for ultrasound technicians varies. Ranging from $47,000 to $93,000 a year, depending on where you work and who you work for. The median salary last year was around $69,500. So you get a good return, considering the amount of time spent in training.
Ultrasound technician job outlook is good. There is expecting to be a significant increase in the number of sonographers required in the next few years. Job prospects are good, and there has never been a better time to start training.