Course Requirements for Ultrasound Technicians

Ultrasound technicians use sound waves to create images of the body's internal structures. Find out about prerequisites for enrolling in an ultrasound program, and learn about required courses. Get information on options to specialize and earn professional certification. Schools offering Diagnostic Medical Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Courses Are Involved?

Ultrasound technicians are responsible for capturing images of internal organs, blood vessels, reproductive systems and fetuses. Ultrasound courses will teach you the fundamentals of ultrasound technology and provide hands-on experience working with ultrasound equipment. You'll also learn to work with patients and perform ethically in a medical setting. Ultrasound courses require training in physical science, medical procedures and patient examination techniques. Courses common to these programs include:

Intro to Sonography

A course like this usually gives an overview of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, or DMS. Students may learn about the history and the general concepts and science behind the profession, such as pulse-echo imaging, vascular technology, and other specialties within the field. Also covered may be the role of DMS in patient care, a review of OSHA requirements for patient and practitioner safety, and ethical issues that might arise.

OB/GYN Sonography

Students in this course typically learn the role of DMS in gynecology. Topics covered may include pelvic anatomy and diseases and disorders of the reproductive system. Students may study images to learn such skills as fetal age and growth assessment, or obstetrical and gynecological pathologies, as well as the effects of exposure to Doppler. Also covered may be transvaginal and transabdominal scanning, sometimes observing or performing actual patient scans.

Vascular Sonography

The use of DMS to diagnose vascular health is the emphasis of this course. Students typically learn the vascular system and how Doppler Physics and color are used in the assessment of vascular disease. Also covered might be positioning of the patient, as well as when and how the different types of vascular scans, such as abdominal Doppler and carotid Doppler would be used. Students may expect to work with the equipment, and view images for assessment.

Ultrasound Physics

This course covers the physics behind DMS. Doppler physics and acoustic energy might be discussed, and how the science affects such issues as proper scanning techniques, body positioning and how to optimize an image. Other topics such as 3D Doppler imaging, techniques for operator control, and how to conduct oneself around patients in a professional, caring manner may also be covered.


Cardiac disease and the role of cardiac imaging are the focus of this course. Students usually learn the types of echocardiography, such as transesophageal and stress echocardiography. Cardiac diseases like valvular stenosis, pulmonary and hypertensive disease, and abnormal rhythms may be discussed. Also covered are the ASE guidelines and how they pertain to scanning techniques and imaging.

What Degrees and Certifications Can I Earn?

A background in basic science, general physics and algebra is desirable in this field. A high school education or its equivalent is required for admission to any program, and some programs may require experience in a clinical-health setting.

Ultrasound technician courses are most commonly offered at 2-year colleges in associate's degree and certificate programs in diagnostic medical sonography; however, some 4-year colleges offer this course of study in bachelor's degree programs. Hospitals, nursing schools and vocational schools may also offer similar programs. Some schools may also offer some of the courses through distance education, but the clinical phase of the program will have to be completed at campus facilities, and your clinical practicum will occur in a healthcare setting, such as a hospital or clinic. Certification through the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) is available with exams in various specialties, like obstetrics. As with most health science programs, you'll be required to submit proof of current immunizations and a recent physical.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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