An ultrasound technician operates equipment which uses high frequency sound waves to produce images of bones, tissue and organs. Bachelor's programs may offer additional specializations, like cardiac, vascular, gynecology, or obstetrics ultrasound technology. Graduates of these programs are qualified to take certification exams through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography and other organizations.
Associate of Science in Ultrasound Technology
This 2-year degree program teaches students how to work as ultrasound techs, also called sonographers, under the supervision of a physician. Students learn the basics of many types of ultrasound procedures and are prepared to enter the field in entry-level positions. Degree programs in ultrasound technology provide students with the technical knowledge to operate ultrasound equipment, gather diagnostic data for physicians and interact with patients.
The curriculum for an associate's degree program for ultrasound techs includes introductory and basic courses in using ultrasound equipment and technology, as well as medical and science courses. Specific courses include:
- Ultrasound principles, concepts and equipment
- Vascular sonography
- Abdominal sonography
- Gynecological sonography
- Sectional anatomy
Bachelor of Science in Ultrasound Technology
An ultrasound technology bachelor's degree program qualifies graduates for leadership and managerial roles within healthcare settings. Some 4-year degree programs provide more specialized areas of study within ultrasound technology, such as vascular ultrasound technology or cardiac ultrasound technology. Clinical experience is also included in many ultrasound tech degree programs.
While the program coursework in a bachelor's degree program in ultrasound technology will be similar to that of an associate's degree program, this program will provide more management and advanced courses, including:
- Ultrasound physics
- High resolution sonography
- Management of health science services
- Diagnostic imaging
- Advanced sonographic specialties
Popular Career Options
Those with an associate's degree in ultrasound technology might expect to pursue employment as an ultrasound tech in a variety of medical settings, including:
- Diagnostic imaging centers
- Private physician offices
- Group practices
- Public health facilities
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Due to the development of new ultrasound technology and an increase in the demand for ultrasound procedures, diagnostic medical sonographers (including ultrasound technicians) can expect positive job growth in the 2014-2024 decade. The growth rate is expected to be 24% during this time period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). In 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for a diagnostic medical sonographer and technicians was $63,630.
Ultrasound tech students can earn either an associate's degree or bachelor's degree depending on the amount of school they want to complete and the amount of money they want to earn. Upon completing these degrees, students will be eligible to take the certification exam and work in settings such as hospitals, clinics, private physician offices and group practices.