A two-year associate's degree program in diagnostic medical sonography prepares students to use ultrasound equipment in hospitals, doctors' offices and other healthcare centers. In addition to classroom lectures on medical terminology and anatomy, students gain clinical experience. For roughly six months, students actively apply their knowledge of sonography and ultrasound technology to patients under the supervision of licensed medical professionals. Specialization areas of medical diagnostics include general sonography, vascular technology and echocardiography. Prior to enrollment, incoming students need to have a high school diploma.
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Associate's Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography
While clinical experiences are a large portion of the diagnostic medical sonography degree program, courses are part of the curriculum. Students learn fundamental concepts about the human body, how to use the equipment properly and how to take images of different parts of the body. Some common classes include:
- Human anatomy
- Ultrasound concepts
- General physics
- Abdominal sonography
- Cardiovascular sonography
- Medical law and ethics
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, diagnostic medical sonographers held about 61,250 jobs across the United States in May 2015 (BLS, www.bls.gov). The BLS predicts 26% growth in the employment rate for diagnostic medical sonographers between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than the overall anticipated average job growth of 7% for all occupations. The demand for diagnostic imaging professionals is expected grow as the baby boomer generation continues to age and needs more medical care. The median annual salary for medical diagnostic sonographers as of May 2015 was $68,970.
While certification is not required for diagnostic medical sonographers, many choose to become certified in a competitive job search environment. Organizations such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) give exams that qualify individuals as Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. Medical professionals interested in vascular and breast diagnostic sonography can gain certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
Many individuals with an interest in medical diagnostics get their start in an associate's degree program in diagnostic medical sonography. After graduating from such a program, many go on to earn certification and seek jobs as diagnostic medical sonographers.