Most associate's degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography are offered through the health sciences or continuing education departments of community colleges and vocational schools. Programs in the field should be accredited by an organization such as the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Prerequisites include basic college-level courses in biology, anatomy and communications, a GED or high school diploma, and strong grades in biology, chemistry and mathematics.
Students must first learn the basic concepts of anatomy and physiology, sectional anatomy and medical terminology. They then learn how to operate sonography equipment in laboratory and clinical situations. Specialty areas are available. Students who complete a 2-year associate's degree program in sonography should have the training necessary to complete echocardiography, abdominal sonography, and obstetric sonography examinations and to eventually become certified professionals.
Associate Degree in Sonography
Both theoretical and clinical courses make up the majority of associate's degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography. Some examples of courses include:
- Introduction to health care
- Anatomy and physiology
- Abdominal, cardiovascular and obstetrical sonography
- Sonographic physics
- Clinical practicum
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
There are several types of diagnostic medical sonographers, including gynecologic sonographers, neurosonographers, and abdominal sonographers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that diagnostic sonographers held about 71,130 jobs in the United States in 2018 (www.bls.gov). The majority of sonographers in that year worked for surgical and general hospitals, physicians' offices and diagnostic laboratories. The median annual salary in 2018 for sonographers was $72,510.
Certification Options and Continuing Education
Sonographers can earn certification as a registered diagnostic medical sonographer (RDMS) through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). ARDMS also allows sonographers to gain certification in a particular specialty within the field. Sonographers can go on to complete bachelor's degree programs and advance into management positions.
An Associate's Degree in Sonography trains students in topics such as anatomy and physiology, sonographic physics, and echocardiography and prepares graduates to work as medical sonographers. Certification with the ARDMS can be beneficial for those looking to specialize in the field of sonographer.