Programs for aspiring sonogram technicians include a combination of lecture courses, hands-on lab sessions and clinical practica. Certificate programs are usually designed for current health care professionals in related fields; diploma and undergraduate degree programs are generally open to students who hold a high school diploma or its GED equivalent. Additional admission requirements often include prerequisite coursework in healthcare, math and science-related subjects.
Certificate and diploma programs typically include fewer general education courses than associate's and bachelor's programs. Students pursuing a bachelor's degree can often choose program specializations, like obstetric or abdominal sonography. All of these programs can lead to diagnostic medical sonography certification.
Sonogram Technician Certificate
Certificate programs in sonogram technology are geared toward health care professionals and are often available in hospitals, technical institutes and community colleges. Programs generally require 35 credits for completion. Individuals interested in enrolling in a sonogram technology certificate program must apply to both the school and the sonography program. Schools typically prefer applicants with related healthcare degrees. Common course topics for a sonogram technician certificate program include:
- Introduction to diagnostic imaging
- Sonogram physics
- Interpreting sonograms
- Performing sonograms on pregnant women
- Performing sonograms on patients with abdominal issues
Sonogram Technician Diploma
Individuals interested in sonogram technician training without a general education component generally gravitate toward diploma programs. Diploma programs typically take between one and two years to complete. Students enrolled in a sonogram technician diploma program learn to work independently and as a member of a team. Before being considered for admittance, interested individuals may have to take a class in clinical vocabulary as well as lectures and labs in biology, physiology and anatomy. Students enrolled in a sonogram technician diploma program take part in clinical lab training. Topics of study include:
- Doppler ultrasound technology
- Techniques for taking accurate images
- Abdominal sonograms
- Cardiac sonograms
- Vascular sonograms
Sonogram Technician Associate Degree
One of the most common training programs for sonogram technicians is an associate degree program, which generally culminates in an Associate of Applied Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Many 2-year degree programs are full-time and have stringent admission guidelines, which include having a high school diploma, submitting standardized test scores and completing prerequisite courses like anatomy and algebra. Applicants may also have to attend a program orientation before being considered for admission. Sonogram technician programs require students to take general education classes. Students also take field-specific coursework in:
- Medical ethics
- Health care legalities
- Patient record keeping
Sonogram Technician Bachelor's Degree
Sonogram technician 4-year degree programs often lead to a Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Most sonogram technician schools allow students to complete their degree program in general sonography or specialize in a specific area, such as obstetrics, breast sonography, abdominal sonography or cardiovascular sonography. Students receive theoretical and practical training in the use of sonogram equipment. Classes consist of:
- Health care management
- Radiographic sciences
- Specialty examination practices
- Cardiac sonograms of children
- Cardiac sonograms of fetuses
Popular Career Options
Sonogram technicians are often employed in hospitals, physicians' offices or medical imaging centers. With adequate experience, graduates of a sonogram technician program can work in roles, such as:
- Nuclear medical technologists
- Respiratory therapists
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
From 2018-2029, employment of sonogram technicians was predicted to increase 19%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The BLS also noted that in 2019, sonogram technicians earned an annual mean wage of $75,780. With sufficient experience in the field, graduates of a 4-year sonogram technician degree program may be able work in management. The BLS predicted the employment of health care managers to rise 18% from 2018-2028. Medical and health services managers made an annual mean salary of $115,160 as of May 2019, according to the BLS.
Professional Certification and Continuing Education Information
Graduates of sonogram technician certificate programs are typically eligible to sit for the national registry exam offered by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS). Those who pass the exam earn the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer designation. Continuing education is required to maintain certification.
Common program levels available to students looking to study sonogram technology include certificate, diploma, associate's and bachelor's. Practical skills learned include interpreting sonograms, patient record keeping and specialty examination practices.