Aspiring sonogram technicians can gain skills by completing diploma or certificate programs in sonography or diagnostic medical sonography, where they will learn about sonogram instrumentation and ultrasound physics. Since these programs are offered to current medical professionals, they have more prerequisites than most short-term programs.
Diploma curriculum is a 3-semester blend of classroom studies and clinical rotations. An applicant must be a graduate of a 2-year health sciences program or hold a bachelor's degree, and they're expected to be knowledgeable in biology and algebra. In addition to showing proof of physical examinations, individuals must submit to criminal background checks. They may also be required to have finished a designated number of hours observing in a medical sonography setting.
For a year-long certificate program, prospective enrollees must be licensed radiographers or graduates of 2-year health programs. They must also have clinical experience in patient care or in medical diagnostic imaging. Additional eligibility requirements include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification, a drug screening and criminal background check.
Diploma for Sonogram Technicians
Diploma students complete courses, lab studies and supervised clinical education to obtain hands-on experience working with patients in a medical setting. They may also have internship or cooperative education opportunities. Upon completion, students will know how to image, process and evaluate sonography examinations. The courses help students to pass the certification examination. Examples of courses are:
- Sonography physics
- Obstetrical sonography
- Anatomy and physiology
- Cardiovascular topics
- Doppler sonography
Certificate for Sonogram Technicians
Certificate program curriculum includes didactic studies with clinical education at various medical sites. Coursework focuses on theory and practical skills, and can be completed in one year of full-time study. Graduates are prepared to take certification exams. Course topics may include:
- Small parts ultrasound
- Obstetrical ultrasound
- Hands-on scanning
- Diagnostic medical imaging practices
- Legal aspects of healthcare in sonography
- Breast sonography
Popular Career Options
Sonography graduates may find employment with hospitals, doctor's offices and diagnostic imaging firms. One may find a general sonographer position or one that is specialized. Some common career titles include:
- Gynecologic sonographer
- Abdominal sonographer
- Vascular sonographer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), diagnostic medical sonography employment was expected to grow by 26% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The bureau also stated that although the highest employment growth will be in physician offices and medical laboratories, hospitals continue to be the major employer for this profession. According to the BLS, diagnostic medical sonographers earned a median salary of $68,970 as of May 2015.
Diploma or certificate sonogram programs are typically for individuals who are already working in the medical field, often as radiographers. Individuals who don't have medical training but wish to become sonogram technicians may enroll in associate's degree programs in diagnostic medical imaging, sonography or related fields.
Although certification or licensure isn't required, sonographers may choose voluntary certification through professional organizations, such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) (www.ardms.org). Graduates who pass the ARDMS examination earn the credential of Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS).
Applicants who focus in a specialty area of sonography may obtain certification in that concentration as well. For instance, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists offers certification for breast and vascular sonographers (www.arrt.org). Additionally, the Cardiovascular Credentialing International offers certification for cardiac sonographers. Continuing education is usually required to maintain certification.
Medical professionals interested in transitioning to a sonogram technician position can gain training through a diploma or certificate program. Either educational path can lead to employment opportunities at a hospital or doctor's office in a field that is slated for much faster than average growth.