Ultrasound Radiologist Education and Training Program Information

Oct 14, 2019

Individuals interested in diagnostic sonography can pursue certificates, associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees in diagnostic sonography. These programs tend to be of different lengths according to program level.

Essential Information

Many certificate programs, which call for 1-2 years of study, require that students have an associate's degree in a health care field, although some will admit students who have completed prerequisite courses. Applicants to 2-year associate's and 4-year bachelor's degree programs need only a high school diploma. A background in human anatomy and physiology, physics and medical terminology, CPR certification and current immunizations are also commonly required.

All of these programs include lecture-based classes along with clinical components that give students supervised experience. Bachelor's degree programs, which allow students to choose a specialty area, require two full years of clinical work. Graduates from accredited programs are eligible to take the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) certification exam. Certification is not required by law, but it's preferred by most employers.

Diagnostic Medical Sonography Certificate

A certificate program in diagnostic medical sonography usually takes 1-2 years to complete and has numerous prerequisites. Programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and graduates are prepared to take the certifying exam administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).

While enrolled in the diagnostic medical sonography curriculum, students receive classroom and laboratory training. Courses cover the following topics:

  • Sectional anatomy
  • Introductory physics
  • Abdominal sonography
  • Gynecologic sonography
  • Vascular ultrasound
  • Anatomy & pathology

Associate of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography

An associate's degree program in diagnostic medical sonography prepares students for general sonography practice and provides the option to train in abdominal, vascular and obstetric sonography. Some programs only offer select specializations, and most programs take 21-24 months to complete.

The associate's degree curriculum combines core courses in the humanities with professional coursework. A combination of laboratory training and classroom work is included in the program. Core requirements include:

  • Cross-sectional anatomy
  • Physics
  • Abdominal sonography
  • Obstetrical sonography
  • Vascular ultrasound

Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography

A bachelor's degree program in diagnostic medical sonography is comprised of at least two years of basic science training and two years of clinical training. Students generally choose to specialize in general, vascular or cardiac sonography. Other areas of specialization include obstetrics and gynecology, breast, abdomen and neurosonology.

Ultrasound radiologist students complete a combination of basic science and clinical training coursework. Topics of study include:

  • Abdominal sonography and cardiac sonography
  • Abdominal pathology
  • Sectional imaging and vascular imaging
  • Gynecologic sonography
  • Hemodynamics
  • Cellular pathophysiology

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Diagnostic medical sonographers were expected to experience strong employment and salary prospects during the 2018-2028 decade. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), employment was expected to increase 19% between the years 2018 and 2028. The estimated median annual wage, as of May 2018, was $72,510.

Continuing Education

Licensure is not required to practice diagnostic sonography, but certification is generally expected by employers. Those who complete the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography certification process are designated Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS).

Certificates, associate's degrees and bachelor's degree programs in diagnostic sonography all provide individuals with a solid foundation in coursework and clinical training. Many students choose an areas of specialization, and certification is often required by employers.

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