How Can I Get an Associate Degree in Sonography?
Sonography involves using non-invasive imaging equipment to help detect illnesses or cancer in patients. If you'd like to learn more about gaining an associate's degree in sonography, you can find the information you're looking for here.
Find Your School
To begin, you'll need to locate a school that offers accredited sonography programs. A great place to start is the College Navigator (nces.ed.gov/CollegeNavigator) offered by the National Center for Education Statistics. Here, you can narrow down your school choices by the program's subject matter and the state, enabling you to discover schools near you that offer sonography associate degree programs.
Important Facts About These Programs
|Programs||Clinical internships available through some schools|
|Degree Levels||Bachelors and masters programs also offered|
|Possible Careers||Radiation therapist, cardiovascular technologist, radiologist|
|Prerequisites||Submission of application and transcripts, minimum GPA, and requisite coursework in physics, math, medical terminology, and anatomy and physiology|
|Median Salary (2019)||$74,320 (for all diagnostic medical sonographers)|
|Job Outlook (2019-2029)||17% growth (for all diagnostic medical sonographers)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Choose Your Sonography Program & Courses
Sonographers are technicians trained to operate equipment and machines that use high frequency sound waves to create an image or video of a patient's internal organs for a physician to diagnose. According to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), there are over 100 programs in the U.S. that offer accredited Associate of Science (A.S.) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) programs in diagnostic medical sonography (www.caahep.org).
Three common fields of sonography are abdominal sonography, obstetric and gynecological sonography, and breast sonography. Abdominal sonographers focus on internal organs within the abdomen, such as the liver and kidneys. Obstetric and gynecological sonographers use prenatal screening and ultrasound imaging techniques to determine the condition of an unborn child.
Breast sonographers focus on diagnosing patients for breast cancer. Once you've selected which path you'd like to pursue, you can seek accredited associate's degree programs offered by universities, community colleges, hospitals or even the military.
During an associate's degree program in sonography, you'll take courses in biology, medical terminology, physics, anatomy, medical ethics and patient safety. You might enroll in a general diagnostic medical sonography program or specialize your studies in an area like abdominal, vascular or cardiac sonography. Many of the classes consist of both lecture and laboratory components. Clinical sets can allow you to work in a health care facility assisting sonographers and doctors. Potential courses include:
- Sonography patient care
- Fundamentals of sonographic imaging
- Sonography instrumentation
- General ultrasound practicum
Further Training and Education
An associate's degree program will give you the skills needed for an entry-level sonography position. Upon graduation, you'll be eligible to become a registered sonographer through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography's (ARDMS) credentialing process (www.ardms.org). While there is no standard state licensure required for sonographers, many employers prefer to hire candidates with ARDMS credentials. To become a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS), you'll have to pass an examination and complete a required number of continuing education courses or credited hours.