The most prevalent ultrasound programs are associate's and bachelor's degree programs. Master's degree programs are not common.
The only prerequisite is a high school diploma or GED. Credit from a bachelor's degree can be transferred to a master's degree. Online programs and courses are available.
Master's degree programs allow ultrasound technologists to pursue an area of specialization such as abdominal or obstetric imaging.
Associate's Degree in Ultrasound
An ultrasound associate's degree program prepares students to provide patient care while performing ultrasound procedures and capturing the best possible images. Students then present the ultrasound data to the treating physician. Upon successfully completing this ultrasound program, students can take the American Registry in Diagnostic Medical Sonography certification examination.
Associate's degree ultrasound programs typically contain the following courses:
- Diagnostic medical ultrasound
- Ethics, legal issues and patient care in ultrasound professions
- Cross-sectional anatomy in sonography
- Abdominal, obstetric and gynecological ultrasound
- Ultrasound instruments
- Cardiac and vascular sonography
Bachelor's Degree in Ultrasound Technology
A bachelor's degree in ultrasound technology program prepares students for a more advanced position in hospital, clinic or private practice ultrasound laboratories. Students enrolled in a bachelor's degree in ultrasound program take more advanced classes and learn additional ultrasound techniques. Students in this type of program are also prepared to take on managerial roles in ultrasound technology.
Bachelor's degrees in ultrasound curricula typically contain the following courses:
- Anatomy and physiology for the ultrasound professional
- Pathophysiology for ultrasound technology
- Cross-sectional anatomy for ultrasound
- Abdominal, vascular, obstetric and gynecological ultrasound
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Master's Degree in Ultrasound
Currently, the University of Missouri Health Systems' School of Health Professions has the only master's degree in diagnostic medical ultrasound technology in the United States. Students may choose to specialize in abdomen, obstetric and gynecological, echocardiography or vascular technology ultrasound. In addition to advanced courses, the master's degree in ultrasound technology program includes research courses.
Students beginning a master's degree program in diagnostic medical ultrasound program can expect to take classes such as:
- Diagnostic medical ultrasound principles
- Sectional anatomy in ultrasound
- Cardiac principles in ultrasound
- Diagnostic medical ultrasound research procedures
- Pathological imaging
- Vascular, adult and pediatric cardiac, superficial organ and gynecological and obstetric ultrasound
Popular Career Options
Upon completing a degree program in ultrasound, students are qualified for the following positions:
- Ultrasound technology professor
- Ultrasound instrumentation research and development professional
- Echocardiography professor
- Ultrasound technician
- Ultrasound equipment sales
- Urgent care sonography technician
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Diagnostic medical sonographers earn a median annual salary of $68,970, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS, www.bls.gov) report in May 2015. This source also indicates graduates are most likely to find employment in hospitals, doctors' offices, medical labs, outpatient care centers and colleges. Job growth is believed to be favorable but will vary according to the sonographers' specializations and locations. According to the BLS, jobs for diagnostic medical sonographers will grow by 26% between 2014-2024.
In summary, with a job growth far exceeding the national average for other careers, interested individuals can complete an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree program in order to enter this field.