The ever-expanding health care field is always in need of a good technician. A career in ultrasound or sonography technology can be rewarding, challenging and lucrative. The role of an ultrasound or X-ray technician is vital to the medical team as well as the patient. They produce and interpret diagnostic images to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions and diseases.

The sonography courses in Ontario medical technical academies and colleges can prepare a student to begin work in as little as 20 months.

Difference Between Sonogram and Ultrasound

An ultrasound is an exam that uses high-frequency sound waves to scan a patient’s body, from a woman’s uterus to a thyroid or kidney. The high-frequency sound waves produce a picture, which is also called a sonogram.

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The two terms "ultrasound" and "sonogram" are often used interchangeably to refer to the exam. Technically, however, the two words refer to different parts of the same process. An ultrasound technician may also be called a sonographer.

Education Requirements for Ultrasound Technicians

A student can take a few educational routes to become a certified and licensed ultrasound technician in Ontario, Canada. The tech school or university that you attend should be sanctioned by the Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs, or CAAHEP. The organization accredits more than 2,200 programs in more than 30 health science careers. Requirements include:

  • Complete a three-year to four-year program in diagnostic medical sonography.

  • Graduate from a two-year to three-year program at an accredited institution in a related allied health field with a one-year, post-diploma program that is in diagnostic medical sonography.

  • Have a two-year associate degree in sonography or a one-year certificate.

Sonography classes include cardiovascular and breast and abdominal tech training along with hands-on clinical experience to enhance proficiency for the student upon graduation.

Employment Potential for Medical Technicians

Diagnostic medical technicians can expect a job growth of nearly 20 percent through the next five years. This is mainly due to the continually changing technology and the expansion of available diagnostic equipment.

An ultrasound technologist can expect to make a little more than $32 an hour as a freshly minted graduate or around $70,000 a year in Canadian dollars.

Expected Workload for Sonographers

Ultrasound technicians need to be understanding and compassionate and able to work long hours. Most of the positions available for graduates require them to work evenings, holidays and weekends. They more than likely will be required to have on-call days as well.

The work and life balance for ultrasound technicians tends to change frequently along with unsteady work schedules. Techs are on their feet most of the day. Once an ultrasound tech has a few years of experience under his belt, he can receive a lighter workload and gain more favorable schedules.

Medical Sonography Programs in Ontario, Canada

There is an abundance of good ultrasound technician programs offered in Canada. Here are a few that have a highly regarded program and a high graduation rate.

  • Algonquin College Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program

    Located in Ottawa, this is one of the top-rated medical sonography programs in Ontario, Canada. The two-year program offers simulation, theoretical courses, extensive laboratory practice and clinical experiences.

    St. Clair College Centre for Applied Health Sciences – This is a 2.5-year course for an advanced diploma in diagnostic medical sonography. The coursework includes sonographic identification of normal and abnormal anatomy, pathology, physiology and patho-physiology sonographic physics, clinical application classes and comprehensive exam reviews.

    Canadian National Institute of Health – Located in Ottawa, this innovative health care program provides clinical and theoretical study for a comprehensive and career-focused educational experience. The diagnostic medical sonographer diploma takes a total of 20 months to complete.

About the Author

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.