Some schools offer general sonography programs, while others require students to choose a major such as obstetrics or vascular technology. Prerequisite courses are almost always required and some programs are only open to students with a two- or four-year degree in a health-related field. Clinical training is part of diagnostic medical sonography programs.
Certificate programs may be open only to students with an associate's or bachelor's degree in a science or health discipline or those who have graduated from a health care training program. Before beginning sonography courses, students need to have completed college science courses, such as biology, anatomy, and physics, as well as English. Students may also need to complete a course in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Students in a sonography certificate program learn about the various types of sonography through classroom lectures and clinical training. Courses may cover the following areas:
- Anatomy for sonographers
- Obstetric ultrasound
- Principles of sonography
- Abdominal ultrasound
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for diagnostic medical sonographers would grow by 24% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). This growth, higher than most occupations, can be attributed to an aging population in need of more medical procedures, as well as to the increased use of imaging procedures in general, the BLS stated. The median salary for diagnostic medical sonographers was $63,630 in 2015, according to the BLS.
Professional Certification and Continuing Education
Graduates may continue their education by earning an advanced certificate or bachelor's degree in the field. These programs delve further into specialty areas and field experience. Obtaining proficiency and professional credentials in more than one speciality can help sonographers advance their careers. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Inc. (ARDMS) offers credentialing examinations in nine specialty areas, plus a general credential in sonographic principles and instrumentation (www.ardms.org). The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) also certifies sonographers who pass a credentialing test (www.arrt.org).
With a significantly higher growth rate than the national average for other careers, prospective sonographers can enter the field by taking a diagnostic medical sonography certificate program.