Online Sonography Degree Programs
Students with previous academic or work experience in the field may qualify for admission to an online sonography degree program. Online learning could prepare you for professional certification testing, enhance your sonography skills or refresh your command of the specialty. Learn about degree options and career prospects below.
What Types of Sonography Degrees Are Available Online?
You can find online sonography programs at the certificate, bachelor's, and bachelor's completion degree levels. Most online sonography programs are available only if you have previously graduated from an allied health program approved by the American Medical Association (AMA). Since sonography procedures require hands-on practice, you usually need to be familiar with the equipment used in the profession before enrolling in an online class. Programs often require a minimum of prerequisite coursework in anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, physics and general education.
Some online programs, especially the certificate programs, are specifically designed for registered nurses or professionally certified individuals already working in the sonography field. These programs are usually offered as degree-completion programs that apply previous academic coursework and experience toward bachelor's degree requirements.
|Program Overview||Certificate, bachelor's and bachelor's completion programs may require prerequisite coursework or previous graduation from an allied health program or an associate's degree program|
|Common Courses||Diagnostic medical sonography principles, cross-sectional anatomy, ultrasound physics, medical ethics and law, clinical rotations|
|Licensing and Certification||Certification is based on a combination of education, training and exams, but is not required|
|Mean Salary (2018)||$72,510 (for all diagnostic medical sonographers)|
|Career Outlook (2016-26)||23% increase between 2014 and 2024 (for all diagnostic medical sonographers)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Would I Learn?
Online bachelor's degree and degree completion programs in sonography are usually completion programs that require four years or two additional years of education past an associate's degree. These programs often offer training in specialty areas, such as cardiovascular, neurological, obstetric or abdominal sonography. Clinical rotations at a local health care facility are required, and you might need to participate in a one-time, on-campus meeting with a clinical coordinator. You could take some basic, refresher courses, but most of your online learning will be related to your chosen specialty. Some common courses include:
- Diagnostic medical sonography principles
- Medical ethics and law
- Cross-sectional anatomy
- Pathological imaging
- Doppler sonography
- Ultrasound physics
- Clinical pathophysiology
- Comparative diagnostic imaging
Certificate programs are designed for those already in the medical field who are interested in being certified as general or specialized sonographers. These programs are designed to prepare you for the certification exams, and they cover much of the same material found in bachelor's programs.
Will I Need Licensure or Certification?
You won't need to obtain state licensure to work in the field of sonography. However, professional credentialing organizations, such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS), offer certification options in sonography specializations, such as neurological or vascular imaging. To become certified, you'll need to complete the proper education, training or work experience. The certification exam typically includes physics and instrumentation topics in your sonography specialty. The ARDMS also requires you to complete a certain number of continuing-education hours to maintain registration (www.ardms.org).
What Is the Career Outlook?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 23% increase in demand for diagnostic medical sonographers between 2016 and 2026 (www.bls.gov). If you develop expertise in multiple sonography specialties, you could have improved job prospects and advancement opportunities. The BLS reported the average annual wage for diagnostic medical sonographers was $72,510 as of May 2018.