Associate programs in diagnostic medical sonography prepare students to perform tests using high frequency sound wave equipment to scan a patient's internal organs, tissues and blood flow. Students also learn about proper patient care and communication skills. Graduates should be prepared for certification, which is voluntary but might be preferred by some employers.
The prerequisites to earn an associate's degree include a high school diploma; prior coursework in basic biology, physics and math and a student's GPA is also considered.
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Associate Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Individuals enrolled in this degree program can can expect foundational coursework in anatomy, physiology, and biology, granting them the knowledge required to communicate effectively with physicians and patients. Additionally, programs emphasize hands-on training in the use of sonographic equipment, providing students with the technical skills needed to accurately diagnose patients. Specific coursework depends on the type of program and may include:
- Ultrasound techniques
- Medical terminology
- Patient care
- Medical ethics
Popular Career Options
Those who earn an associate degree in diagnostic medical sonography or diagnostic cardiovascular sonography have the knowledge to work in hospitals or clinics, although their specialization depends on their program of study. Some popular careers may include:
- General diagnostic medical sonographer
- Vascular technologist
- Cardiovascular technologist
- OB/GYN sonographer
Employment Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 26% increase in employment of diagnostic medical sonographers during the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). Cardiovascular technicians and vascular technologists could experience 22% growth in the same period. According to BLS reports from May of 2015, diagnostic sonographers received an annual median salary of $68,970; cardiovascular technologists earned $54,880.
Professional Certification and Continuing Education Information
Diagnostic medical sonographers who have earned an associate degree may want to become certified, although it is not required. However, it does demonstrate the qualifications of sonographers to future employers.
The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) and other organizations may provide certification for general or specialized sonographers. Usually, applicants must have completed some continuing education courses and work experience to qualify for the certification exam.
An associate's degree in sonographical technologies equips students with the knowledge and hands-on training required to work in the field. The associate's degree provides a great foundation for entry-level positions and can help students in their preparation for certification.