If you are in the midst of completing or have just graduated from an ultrasound, radiologic tech or another medical imaging program, chances are you want a job! Luckily the healthcare industry is booming and the demand for medical imagers is very promising. Between 2014 and 2024, the job growth outlook for sonographers is 26%, for cardiovascular techs it’s 24%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Even though the outlook for these professions is “faster” or “much faster than average,” knowing where to start to find a job can be a tad overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you start your fulfilling medical imaging career, whether you are still in school or have just graduated.
Real World Experience
Many ultrasound and other medical imaging educational programs include a clinical or practicum component so that you can gain some real world experience in your field.
• Don’t look at this as just a credit that you need to fulfill to graduate. Work hard and learn as much as you can. It is an opportunity to form a strong rapport with an employer that may wish to hire you after you graduate.
• Take this opportunity to find out what aspect of medical imaging is your niche or specialty. For example, you may realize that you are most passionate about obstetric ultrasound or MRIs, rather than another form of medical imaging technology.
There’s more to gain during this part of your educational program.
• During your studies or immediately after graduating, talk to hospitals and other healthcare settings to see if you can shadow an ultrasound, radiologic or nuclear medicine tech. If you are studying sonography, you may want to shadow techs in vascular, echo and general ultrasound labs to figure out what your own specialty is.
• You also get involved in the community in other ways to build bonds with future employers, such as volunteering as a patient companion or at the information desk of your local hospital or interviewing private practice owners to find out about their day-to-day operations.
Although not everybody is an extrovert, networking through meeting and communicating with new people (or sharing your goals and skills with people you already know) is extremely helpful in finding a job. “Robert Wegmann, in his book titled Work in the New Economy, concludes that as many as 70 to 75 percent of all job openings are not advertised,” states Mitchell Technical Institute’s Career Services. “…The most important job search rule is: Don’t wait until the job is open! Most jobs are filled by someone the employer meets before a job is formally ‘open’. So the trick is to meet people who can hire you before a job is available.”
You do not have to wait until you graduate to start networking. It can begin while you are in the midst of completing your degree, or even before you begin attending an ultrasound or medical imaging program.
• Mitchell Technical Institute’s Career Services recommends telling potential employers, “I realize you may not have any openings now, but I would still like to talk to you about the possibility of future openings,” rather than simply asking for a job.
• Every new person you meet, act as if they could be your future boss and try to share some of your career goals. You never know, they may know someone that is hiring in your field.
• When potential employers come to your school, such as for a job fair or a presentation, try to talk to them one-on-one with any questions you may have.
• Ask professionals in the field if they know anybody that may be looking for an ultrasound tech, radiologic tech, or whatever position you are pursuing. Follow up on these referrals.
• Attend career-related events in the community, such as a lecture on ultrasound, a medical imaging conference or a hospital fundraiser and mingle.
• When you meet someone new, make sure to listen to them as well—do not only talk about yourself. Asking questions is a good trick.
While attending your educational program, or even after you graduate, take advantage of the wealth of resources on campus.
• Talk to your instructors and ask them if they have any job search advice or if they know anyone that might be hiring.
• If your school has a career center, go visit it. They normally help students and alumni with finding job openings, preparing resumes and more.
During your studies and after you graduate from your medical imaging program, it is a good idea to find out about certifications and memberships that can help you secure employment, provide you with valuable resources, provide networking opportunities and avenues for continued learning. Although certification is not always mandatory, it can help you stand out from other applicants.
Some examples of relevant certifying bodies/associations include:
• The ARDMS (American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography), which administers the RDMS (Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer), RDCS (Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer) and RVT (Registered Vascular Technologist) credentials.
• The ARRT (The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists), which offers various certifications in areas related to radiography, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear medicine, ultrasound and radiation therapy.
• The SDMS (Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography) offers memberships to professionals as well as students. The student fee is very reasonable.
Other Job Search Tools
• Relevant websites, such as healthjobsusa.com, asrt.org/main/careers or ultrasoundjobs.com
• Revisiting the places you did previous clinical, internships or volunteer work.
• Attending job fairs. They may come to your school, but employers may also host them. Search online for local job fairs at hospitals and other healthcare settings.
• Talk to the HR department at hospitals, clinics and other healthcare settings to find out about job prospects. At smaller medical offices, you might talk to a physician or the office manager.
Other pages you might like:
- 5 Points of Consideration When Building Your Resume – Tips for preparing the perfect resume
- How to Ace the Interview – You landed the interview, here’s how to land the job
- Job Search Tips A nursing school graduate shares her secrets to success
Article by Wendy Fanello
- Data Sources & Additional Information