Ultrasound technicians, also called sonographers, are in demand throughout the world. In the United States, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that ultrasound jobs will grow 18 percent through 2018. International job growth is on par with the United States. There is a particular demand in the Middle East where cultural sensitivities involving men and women working in the same environment create a tremendous shortage of medical technicians in hospitals and clinics.
Like most European countries, medical technician jobs are available to foreigners only if the positions are impossible to fill by the local labor pool. However, there is a continuing demand for ultrasound technicians. Average annual salaries as of 2010 were £30,000 to £45,000 ($47,600 to $71,400), according to the British recruiter GreatHealthCare.co.uk. These salaries are consistent with the U.S. median annual salary of $61,980 as of 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In England, ultrasound technicians perform aortic, osteoporosis and carotic screenings for patients. They often travel to screening venues throughout the region associated with the medical facility. Technicians must have ultrasound imaging experience and be a member of Britain’s Society of Vascular Technologists. Additional certification may apply depending on the hiring organization.
Canadian health care facilities with regional programs in vascular, orthopedic, stroke, cardiac and domestic and sexual violence issues recruit full- and part-time ultrasound technicians. According to typical ultrasound tech job descriptions for Canada, the job requires certification in vascular, obstetrics and abdomen imaging. Exceptional written and verbal skills are essential, along with the ability to work independently and as a team member when necessary. Strong organizational skills are an asset. Technicians must be proficient in operating all sonographs and ultrasound equipment.
Despite the downturn in the global economy and Dubai’s workforce reduction in the development, architectural and construction industries, the demands for medical technicians remain strong as of 2010. Dubai and Saudi Arabia, for example, suffer from acute medical staffing shortages primarily because United Arab Emirates and Saudi nationals resist taking jobs in patient care due to cultural sensitivities. Therefore, Western medical technicians, including sonographers and ultrasound technicians, are highly prized. They are given comparable salaries with additional housing and transportation benefits.
In Dubai, ultrasound technicians must be proficient in operating all medical equipment and must have extensive knowledge in obstetrics/gynecology, vascular, musculoskeletal and neonatal care and imaging. Certification or licensing in the United States is sufficient for a job in Dubai. Three years of work experience is usually necessary for such work.
Job opportunities in Saudi Arabia are similar to Dubai. In Saudi Arabia, however, housing and transportation allowances and annual airfare for vacation typically are part of the benefits packages. Some employers, though, may require that female ultrasound technicians be accompanied by their husbands or a designated male guardian. Technicians must have up to five years' work experience and collaborate with the medical facilities radiologist. Some employers may require the ability to speak Arabic, but usually it’s not essential.