Associate of Ultrasound Technology: Degree Overview

Explore associate degree programs in ultrasound technology. Learn about admissions requirements and potential coursework. Get info about employment outlook and salary projections, and review continuing education options.

Essential Information

Associate degree programs in ultrasound technology can give students the practical training needed to work as ultrasound technologists, also known as sonographers, who use sound waves to obtain images of organs and soft tissue inside the body. Often found at community colleges, these 2-year programs typically include classroom, laboratory and clinical experiences and result in an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science. Students might learn about the technology of sonography, scanning procedures and interpretation of ultrasound images. Some schools offer generalized programs, while others ask students to choose a specialty, such as cardiac or vascular ultrasound.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants to an ultrasound technology program must have a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Some schools prefer applicants with previous health care experience. Most programs require that students have completed courses in biology, anatomy, medical terminology and English composition.

Course Topics

Ultrasound technology associate degree programs teach specific methods of scanning for different purposes. Possible required courses include:

  • Physics
  • Anatomy
  • Abdominal sonography
  • Vascular sonography
  • Obstetric sonography
  • Ultrasound equipment
  • Medical ethics

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

An associate degree program for ultrasound technology is designed to prepare aspiring diagnostic medical sonographers to assist physicians in a variety of medical fields. Obstetrics is the most commonly-known area in which ultrasound technology is used, but ultrasound also helps physicians diagnose heart, abdominal and vascular problems.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment for diagnostic medical sonographers to grow by approximately 46% between 2012-2022, largely due to the health care demands of an aging population (www.bls.gov). The BLS also predicts that the biggest job growth will be in physicians' offices and at outpatient clinics. In May 2013, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for a sonographer was $66,410.

Continuing Education Information

Many employers require job candidates to have professional certification. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) offers exams in nine specialty areas. After passing the 3-hour, 170-question test in any specialty, the individual is certified as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS), a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) or a Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT). ARDMS also offers credentials in musculoskeletal sonography and in sonographic principles.

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