Sonography technology undergraduate programs are available at the associate's degree level and divide the study of sonography into three specialties. These programs are two years in length and require students to select a concentration, either general, cardiac or vascular. The sonography component of these programs includes theories and principles behind ultrasound scanning, as well as lab work and a supervised, hands-on clinical internship.
Applicants need a high school diploma or GED and high school transcript with 4 years of English, 3 years of math and science and various social sciences. They also need proof of immunizations and current CPR for Health Professionals certification.
Associate's Degree Programs in Sonography Technology
The liberal arts component usually consists of around 24 credit hours in subjects including natural science, social science, psychology, English, mathematics and other electives. Some colleges also offer career development courses to help graduates take good advantage of professional opportunities. The sonography and internship components take up the bulk of coursework; subjects studied might include:
- Obstetric and gynecological sonography
- Ultrasound of the abdomen
- Fetal pathology
- Data interpretation
- Sonogram instrumentation and technology
- Medical terminology
An associate's degree is not necessary for employment as a sonogram technician. In fact, most states allow individuals with a sonography certificate or diploma to work immediately in the field. However, voluntary credentials, such as the exam-based Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS), are recommended for career advancement. Ongoing education is required to maintain registration or certification. Oregon and New Mexico recently began requiring a state-approved license in order to practice.
Salary Information and Employment Outlook
Sonogram technicians typically work in hospitals, clinics, OB/GYN offices, cardiac specialty practices or internal medicine practices. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures, the diagnostic medical sonography career field is expected to grow by 26% between 2014 and 2024. As of 2015, the mean hourly wage for diagnostic medical sonographers was $34.08 per hour, or $70,880 a year. Most diagnostic medical sonographers made between $48,720 and $97,390, as of 2015, depending on the worker's geographic location and employment history.
Associate degree programs in sonography technology use classwork, lab work, and internships to teach students the necessary skillset to become sonographers. Graduates can pursue voluntary credentials and expect positive job growth.