Gynecological Technician Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Get the truth about salaries in the gynecological technician field. Read the job descriptions and learn about education and licensure requirements and career prospects to decide if a gynecological technician career is right for you.
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Gynecological Technician Careers

Focused on helping women, gynecological care covers adolescent and adult women, including such concerns as puberty, pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. These jobs include gynecological ultrasound technician, gynecological nurse, OB/GYN physician assistant and nurse-midwife. Read on for a comparison of these positions:

Gynecological Ultrasound Technician Gynecological Nurse OB/GYN Physician Assistant Nurse-Midwife
Career Overview Ultrasound technicians use special equipment to obtain images of the female reproductive system. Gynecological nurses help female patients with common health concerns, such as pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. OB/GYN physician's assistants work under direct doctor supervision, helping women with female reproductive concerns. Nurse-midwives provide primary care to female patients in hospitals, clinics or private homes.
Education Requirements Associate's or bachelor's degree Diploma, associate's or bachelor's in nursing Master's degree Master's degree
Program Length 2-4 years 2-4 years 2 years 2 years
Certification and Licensing American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography certification is preferred; some states require a license Must pass the NCLEX-RN exam; voluntary certification is available Must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination Licensure may be required; American College of Nurse-Midwives certification is available
Experience Requirement 1 year of experience required for certification At least 1 year Prior experience in healthcare is common 2-5 years
Job Outlook for 2012-2022 46%, much-faster-than-average growth, for all diagnostic medical sonographers* Faster-than-average growth (19%) for all RNs* 38% growth expected for all PAs (much faster than average)* Faster-than-average growth of 29%*
Mean Salary 2014 $68,390 for all diagnostic medical sonographers* $69,790 for all RNs* $97,280 for all PAs* $97,700*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Gynecologic Ultrasound Technician

Ultrasound technicians are also known as diagnostic medical sonographers or sonographers. These technicians work in women's clinics, hospitals or doctor's offices, performing ultrasound procedures focused on female reproductive systems. They perform fetal ultrasounds, 3-D ultrasounds and gynecological ultrasounds. Their tasks include preparing the patient for the ultrasound, operating sonography equipment and analyzing images for quality. They look for abnormalities and report their findings to physicians.

Requirements

To enter this field, you'll need to complete an associate's or bachelor's degree program in sonography. The BLS reported that certificate programs are also available, but these are designed for professionals already working in the healthcare field. Sonography programs include clinical experiences or internships, in addition to classroom study. Courses in obstetrical and gynecological (OB/GYN) sonography provide training on performing imaging at various stages of fetal development, understanding organ systems and detecting fetal abnormalities. You'll also learn about other types of sonography, instrumentation and patient care.

In addition, employers often look for certified technicians, the BLS reported. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography offers the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer certification in several specialties, including OB/GYN. You can earn this credential by taking an exam covering sonography principles and an exam in obstetrics and gynecology after completing a degree program. In some states, you may also need to obtain a license, which generally requires showing proof of certification and education and completing an application. In October 2012, some employers of OB/GYN ultrasound technicians were looking for the following:

  • A Charlotte, NC, healthcare system was looking for a certified technician to perform gynecological and obstetrical ultrasounds. The position required two years of OB/GYN experience.
  • A New Jersey healthcare system was seeking a sonographer to perform and analyze ultrasounds. The potential employee needed to be able to be discrete when working with patients. The employer wanted a sonographer who was certified or eligible for certification.
  • An Arizona women's clinic was hiring a certified OB/GYN sonographer with experience. In this position, the sonographer would perform fetal, gynecological and obstetrical ultrasounds. The job required strong communication and teamwork skills.

Standing Out

Diagnostic medical sonography degree programs typically cover all types of sonography. Since many employers of OB/GYN ultrasound technicians look for applicants with experience in this specialty, you might want to consider seeking out additional training in gynecological care. You can look for programs that allow you to perform your internship or clinical experience at a facility focused on OB/GYN patient care. Technology in this field may advance rapidly, and you'll want to stay on top of technological developments to stand out among other applicants. Consider looking for internships or clinical experiences at hospitals that use the latest equipment, such as 4-D sonography.

Gynecological Nurse

Gynecological nurses work in medical clinics, doctor's offices or hospitals, specifically helping women with their medical needs. They attend to patients who are in labor, help doctors with annual check-ups and educate women about mammograms or other health screenings. With additional training, these professionals can become nurse practitioners, specializing in healthcare for women.

Requirements

To work as a gynecological nurse, you'll need to become a registered nurse (RN). According to the BLS, you'll first need to earn a diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in nursing. While you can take the licensure exam for RNs after completing any of these programs, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing noted that the bachelor's degree is becoming the primary degree for registered nurses seeking employment. After completing education requirements, you can then take the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) for RNs. There may be other requirements that vary by state. Many employers of gynecological nurses also require at least one year of experience in the field. Employers looking for gynecological nurses in October 2012 requested the following qualifications:

  • A women's clinic in Austin, TX, wanted an RN with at least one year of experience, preferably in OB/GYN. Applicants needed a degree and a Texas RN license.
  • A Minneapolis, MN, medical center was seeking an OB/GYN RN staff nurse for a part-time position. Clinical OB/GYN experience was required for this position, and the employer preferred an applicant with a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing.
  • A medical network in Pennsylvania wanted an experienced OB/GYN or labor and delivery nurse. The applicant needed at least one year of recent experience, CPR certification and a state RN license.

Standing Out

You can stand out among your competitors by becoming certified in the OB/GYN field. According to the BLS, voluntary certification proves your ability to meet higher standards in a specific area of nursing, such as gynecology. The National Certification Corporation offers several certification exams in this field, including inpatient obstetric, maternal newborn and neonatal intensive care nursing. To be eligible for these exams, you'll need to have a current RN license and at least two years of work experience in your specialty.

OB/GYN Physician's Assistant

An OB/GYN physician's assistant (PA) treats female patients under physician supervision. They can work with adolescent females to mature adult women. Some of their duties include performing annual exams, biopsies, colposcopies, birth control insertion and vaginal delivery. OB/GYN PAs help patients with prenatal care, menopause or illness. They are able to prescribe medicine and may supervise medical technicians. These PAs can also pursue careers in non-OB/GYN fields with appropriate certification.

Requirements

OB/GYN PAs won't be able to find educational programs focused specifically on gynecological or obstetrical assistant training. Rather, aspiring PAs will need to participate in an general physician assistant program (typically at the master's level) and then acquire a license. These programs provide classroom and clinical training in such general areas as physiology, diagnosis, imaging, surgical skills and physical exams. After completing an accredited training program, PAs will need to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam, which is offered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). You can then apply for a license from your state. Some employers seeking OB/GYN physician assistants in October 2012 asked for the following qualifications:

  • A healthcare clinic in Seattle, WA, wanted an OB/GYN PA with state prescriptive authority. The PA would be expected to perform circumcisions and offer lactation consultations.
  • A hospital in New York City wanted a PA to work in the labor and delivery unit. Ideal applicants would have at least a bachelor's degree, NCCPA certification and two years of experience in OB/GYN, especially in labor and delivery. The employer preferred bilingual candidates.
  • A private practice in Georgia wanted a licensed PA to work daytime hours. Both new graduates and experienced professionals were encouraged to apply.

Standing Out

Experience in OB/GYN may be required by some employers. While pursuing your education, you can look for opportunities to get this experience through mentoring opportunities, workshops or conferences. The Association of Physician Assistants in Obstetrics and Gynecology also suggests seeking out potential clinical rotations in OB/GYN units.

Nurse-Midwife

According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), nurse-midwives can practice as part of a healthcare team in all 50 states and as licensed independent practitioners, without direct physician supervision, in 42 states. Nurse-midwives can prescribe medications, perform physical exams, help patients with family planning and provide patient care to pregnant women. These professionals perform biopsies and ultrasounds, participate in surgery and perform contraceptive insertions. In addition to performing their services at hospitals, private offices and community medical centers, nurse-midwives can provide home care.

Requirements

To legally practice in any state in the U.S., you'll need to be a Certified Nurse-Midwife, according to the ACNM. Nurse-midwife education programs are graduate-level programs, generally leading to a master's degree. To enroll in one of these programs, you'll need a bachelor's degree and an RN license. Upon graduation, you'll need to pass the National Certifying Exam offered by the American Midwifery Certification Board to become a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) and submit an application for licensure to your state. Employers seeking certified nurse-midwives in October 2012 wanted the following requirements:

  • An outpatient center in Milwaukee, WI, wanted a bilingual CNM with three years of experience. The position responsibilities included mentoring students, providing primary care and participating in deliveries. An RN license and state license were required for this position.
  • A health education center in North Carolina needed a CNM to perform clinical activities, teach students and perform deliveries. The CNM needed an RN and state license, along with 2-4 years of experience.
  • A Maine hospital wanted a CNM to oversee staff and manage their women's health care center. They required a CNM who could speak and write in Spanish. The position required at least five years of midwifery experience and two years of management experience.

Standing Out

Many employers want CNMs with leadership or management skills. To stand out among other applicants, you can take courses in management theory, nurse leadership and decision-making. While some schools offer certificate programs in nurse management, you can also take individual courses. In addition, employers often prefer proficiency in another language, mostly Spanish. You can find standard foreign language courses at colleges or universities. Some schools also offer Spanish for nurses' courses that can help you to get ahead in this field.

Popular Schools

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    1. The George Washington University

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The George Washington University

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Brightwood College

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Colorado State University Global

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