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Diagnostic Medical Sonography Associate Degree Programs

Diagnostic medical sonographers use special equipment to help identify medical conditions in soft tissues within the body that aren't easily seen. Read on for more information about the educational programs, professional credentials and related career options.

What Are the Prerequisites for a Diagnostic Medical Sonography Associate Degree?

At minimum, a high school diploma or an equivalent achievement is mandatory for admission. If you're still in high school, you might choose to focus on biology and other sciences to give you a competitive edge when applying to the degree program. Most diagnostic medical sonography associate's degree programs also require you to complete college-level prerequisite courses, like algebra, composition, psychology, sociology and medical terminology, before you can enroll in the professional sonography classes.

PrerequisitesHigh school diploma, previous courses in sciences and biology
Common CoursesSonographic physics, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, echocardiography
Certification TitlesRegistered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer, Registered Vascular Technologist
Median Salary (2018)$72,510* (for diagnostic medical sonographers)
Job Outlook (2016-26)23%* (for all diagnostic medical sonographers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Classes Could I Take?

As a diagnostic medical sonographer, you'll be responsible for operating various equipment and working with different physicians. Because of this, you might be required to become proficient in various areas, such as general, vascular or cardiac sonography. Some of the classes include anatomy and physiology, sonographic physics, echocardiography, sonography of superficial structures, pharmacology and obstetrical/gynecological sonography.

Online programs are rare for sonography due to the need for extensive hands-on training. You may be able to find degree completion bachelor's programs that allow you to complete some of the general education classes from home and then work at an approved clinic for the practical experience requirements.

What Can I Do After Graduation?

The Sonography Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) Examination, which is administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), is open to those holding an associate's degree in sonography. Areas of the SPI exam include doppler instrumentation and hemodynamics, pulse-echo instrumentation, ultrasound transducers and physics principles. You'll be tested on your knowledge of patient safety and care, documentation, interactions of sound with tissue, transducer construction and post processing of ultrasound signals.

You can earn one or more specialized credentials in a number of distinctive practices, including fetal echocardiography, neurosonology or obstetrics. Passing the SPI and a specialized exam along with some practical experience is also required for professionals wishing to earn one of the three following credentials:

  • Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS)
  • Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS)
  • Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT)