How to Become a Sonographer | Ultrasound Tech Schools Birmingham AL

Selecting an Ultrasound Technician Degree Program Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham AL ultrasound tech with female patientNow that you have decided to obtain an ultrasound technician degree near Birmingham AL, it’s time to begin the procedure of selecting a college. To begin with, you must find the right program that will provide the proper instruction to become a skilled professional. And because a number of states do require that sonographers be either certified or licensed, depending on where you will practice you may also need preparation to pass a licensing or certification examination. So it’s extremely important that you investigate each college in order to assess and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? A number of individuals will start by searching for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Certainly location and cost need to be considered when making a decision, but there are other important factors as well. Such as, if the ultrasound technician schools have earned accreditation or if they sponsor internships. These and additional qualifications will be covered more in depth later in this article. But to start with, let’s discuss what an ultrasound tech does and the degrees and online education programs that are offered.

Sonographer Job Description

ultrasound equipment in Birmingham ALThere are various acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same basic job description, which is to implement diagnostic ultrasound testing on patients. Although a number of techs work as generalists there are specializations within the profession, for instance in pediatrics and cardiology. Most practice in Birmingham AL hospitals, clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging centers and even private practices. Typical daily job tasks of a sonogram technician can involve:

  • Keeping records of patient case histories and details of each procedure
  • Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
  • Prepping the ultrasound machines for testing and then sterilizing and recalibrating them
  • Transferring patients to treatment rooms and making them comfortable
  • Operating equipment while limiting patient exposure to sound waves
  • Assessing results and determining need for additional testing

Sonographers must regularly evaluate the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. So as to sustain that level of professionalism and stay current with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education courses on an ongoing basis.

Sonogram Tech Degree Programs Available

Ultrasound technician enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree. An Associate Degree will normally take about 18 months to 2 years to complete based upon the program and class load. A Bachelor’s Degree will take longer at as long as 4 years to finish. Another alternative for individuals who have previously received a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received a Bachelor’s Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related health sector, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require only 12 to 18 months to finish. One thing to keep in mind is that most ultrasound technician schools do have a clinical training component as part of their curriculum. It can often be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many schools organize through Birmingham AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from one of the degree or certificate programs, you will then have to fulfill the certification or licensing requirements in Alabama or whichever state you decide to work in.

What to Ask Ultrasound Technician Schools

Birmingham AL sonographer with pregnant womanAfter you have determined which certificate or degree that you would like to obtain, you can start the process of reviewing and comparing ultrasound tech colleges. You will first probably want to choose whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Birmingham AL area. Clearly location will be important if you select the latter, and the price of tuition no doubt will be an important qualification also. But there are additional things that you must also take into account, for instance if the colleges are accredited and if they provide internship programs. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are some questions that you need ask each ultrasound tech college prior to making a decision.

Are the Ultrasound Tech Colleges Accredited? A large number of sonogram tech schools have obtained some type of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it’s still crucial to verify that the school and program are accredited. Among the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Schools obtaining accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through a detailed assessment of their instructors and educational materials. If the program is online it may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which targets distance or online learning. All accrediting organizations should be acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to guaranteeing a premium education, accreditation will also help in getting financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not offered for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And a number of Birmingham AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited program for entry level positions.

Are Internships Sponsored? Find out if the ultrasound tech colleges you are evaluating have associations with Birmingham AL clinics or hospitals for internship programs. Not only are internships a terrific way to obtain practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a way to fulfill the clinical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a secondary benefit, they can help students and graduates establish professional relationships in the Birmingham health care community and help with obtaining employment.

Is Job Placement Help provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduating, but finding that first job in a new field can be challenging without assistance. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are assessing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. High and rapid placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also confirms that their graduates are highly regarded and sought after.

Where is the Program Located? For a lot of students, the school they select will have to be within driving distance of their Birmingham AL residence. Individuals who have decided to attend online classes obviously will not have to concern themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to keep in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or perhaps out of your local area, you may have to pay a higher tuition. State colleges typically charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges often charge a higher tuition to those students that don’t reside within their districts.

What are the Class Sizes ? Unless you are the sort of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of class or get lost in the crowd, you will probably want a small class size. Small classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are reviewing what the typical student to teacher ratio is for their classes. If practical you may want to monitor one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to speak with a few of the instructors and students to get their opinions regarding the ultrasound technician program also.

Does the School Accommodate your Schedule? And last you need to verify that the sonographer  college you ultimately pick can offer the class schedule you need. This is particularly crucial if you choose to continue working while attending classes. If you need to schedule evening or weekend classes in the Birmingham AL area, verify that they are available. If you can only attend part-time, verify if that is an alternative and how many courses or credit hours you would need to enroll in. Also, learn what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss because of illness, work or family emergencies.

Ultrasound Tech Online Degrees

woman attending ultrasound technician school online in Birmingham ALAs aforementioned, almost all sonogram technician schools have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can earn a degree or certificate online, a substantial portion of the training will be either carried out in an on-campus lab or at an authorized off-campus medical care provider. Clinical training can usually be satisfied through an internship at a local Birmingham AL hospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. But the balance of the classes and training may be accessed online in your Birmingham home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that continue working while getting their degrees. In addition online colleges are often less costly than on campus alternatives. Expenses for commuting and study materials may be reduced as well. But just as with every sonographer program you are looking at, make sure that the online school you select is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is especially important for licensing, certification and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are motivated enough to learn away from the classroom in the convenience of your own home, then an online degree could be the right option for you.

Considering Enrolling in an Ultrasound Tech School near Birmingham AL?

If you are considering a Sonography Tech School in the Birmingham Alabama area, following is some interesting history and background information about the location of your new school campus.

Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is a city in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2018 population of 209,880, it is the most populous city in Alabama.[4] Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2018, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 1,151,801, making it the most populous in Alabama and 49th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham serves as an important regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions of the nation.

Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, through the merger of three farm towns, most notably Elyton. The new city was named for Birmingham, England, the UK's second largest city and, at the time, a major industrial city. The Alabama city annexed smaller neighbors and developed as an industrial center, based on mining, the new iron and steel industry, and rail transport. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry.[5] The city was developed as a place where cheap, non-unionized immigrant labor (primarily Irish and Italian), along with African-American labor from rural Alabama, could work in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.[6]:14

From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was a primary industrial center of the southern United States. Its growth from 1881 through 1920 earned it nicknames such as "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Its major industries were iron and steel production. Major components of the railroad industry, rails and railroad cars, were manufactured in Birmingham. Since the 1860s, the two primary hubs of railroading in the "Deep South" have been Birmingham and Atlanta. The economy diversified in the latter half of the 20th century. Banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have become major economic activities. Birmingham ranks as one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. Also, it is among the most important business centers in the Southeast.

Find the Right Ultrasound Tech College Birmingham AL

Choosing the ideal sonographer certificate or degree program is an important first step to starting a rewarding new career delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech colleges require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to satisfying academic standards, you should be in at least reasonably good physical health, able to stand for lengthy time frames with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it often necessary to adjust patients and move heavy machines. Other helpful skills include technical proficiency, the ability to keep calm when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have discussed in this article, there are multiple questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This is the case whether you choose an online program or commute to the school campus to attend classes. And by asking the proper questions so that you can compare each school, you will be able to narrow down your choices until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the right training, discipline and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to work as an ultrasound technologist in Birmingham AL.

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