Students enrolled in a 2-year associate's degree program in diagnostic medical sonography learn to operate sonographic equipment through classes, labs, and clinical experience. They also learn about the various medical conditions that can be diagnosed through sonography tests and procedures. Courses--some online--cover topics such as anatomy, medical terminology, the physics of ultrasound, and pathophysiology. Through practica in a healthcare facility, students get real-world experience working with patients and medical staff.
Some associate's degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography allow aspiring sonogram technicians to select a particular specialty of study, such as cardiac ultrasound technology, general ultrasound technology, vascular ultrasound technology or obstetric ultrasound technology. Graduates are eligible to sit for the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography exam. Certification is not required by law, but it is desired by many employers.
Before beginning a sonography program, students must have a high school diploma or GED and a placement test may also be required.
Associate Degree in Sonogram Technology
A typical associate's degree program in diagnostic medical sonography contains classroom lectures, laboratory experiences, and a clinical practicum, all of which have the primary objective of training students to use ultrasound equipment in health care settings. Some specific courses include:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical terminology
- Foundations of the ultrasound
- Ultrasound physics
- Abdominal, cardiac, and vascular sonography
- Diagnostic procedures
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Hospitals, physicians' offices and diagnostic laboratories employed roughly 15,420 diagnostic medical sonographers and sonogram technicians in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). In May 2018, diagnostic medical sonographers made a median annual salary of about $72,510.
While sonographers are not technically required to gain licensure or certification to practice in most health care facilities, it is common for them to do so. Individuals can gain certification from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), which grants the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer credential. Sonographers can also gain certification in a particular branch of the field, such as cardiac or vascular sonography, through ARDMS.
An associate's degree in sonogram technology gives students the clinical and classroom requirements needed to work in the field. Sonographers can specialize and work in a niche, if desired or study as a generalist.