Associate's 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. These 2-year programs are often found at community colleges. Some schools offer generalized programs, while others ask students to choose a specialty, such as cardiac sonography, vascular sonography, or obstetric sonography.
Associate's Degree in Ultrasound Technology
Applicants to an ultrasound technology program must have a high school diploma or a GED. 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. Ultrasound technology associate's degree programs teach specific methods of scanning for different purposes. Possible required courses include:
- Abdominal sonography
- Vascular and obstetric sonography
- Ultrasound equipment
- Medical ethics
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
An associate's degree program in 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 26% between 2014-2024, largely due to the healthcare 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 2015, the BLS reported that the mean annual salary for a diagnostic medical sonographer was $70,880.
Continuing Education Information
Many employers require job candidates to obtain 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.
An associate's degree in ultrasound technology will prepare students for a successful career as a diagnostic medical sonographer. Upon graduation, students may want to look into obtaining their professional certification; while not required, most employers do prefer certification.