Sonogram Tech Schools and Degree Programs
Sonography uses ultrasound imaging to help doctors understand internal health issues afflicting a patient. Continue reading for more information about training and certification options.
What You Need to Know
Sonograms are used to understand the internal health issues possibly affecting a patient's well-being. Many schools and programs are available for individuals interested in sonography.
|Schools||Programs are available in academic buildings and hospitals; professional medical programs at community colleges; hospital training program (diagnostic imaging program).|
|Degrees||Associate's or bachelor's degree in sonography; shorter training programs for some sonography specializations|
|Certification||American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) certification needed for some jobs|
What Is a Sonogram?
A sonogram is an imaging device that uses sound waves to view body tissue. The sound waves are able to penetrate tissue and reflect an image on a computer screen. Each sonographic frequency setting allows the sonographer to see deep into the body. Most people associate sonograms with ultrasound imaging during a pregnancy. However, sonograms have more functions than just viewing a female patient's uterus; sonograms are used to help doctors see if a patient has any tissue damage to their organs, body tissue, glands or blood vessels.
What Education Will I Need?
Education is important for all sonographers. The equipment used for sonography is delicate, and expertise is required to handle the device and properly assess the patient's body for accurate imaging. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that various education programs are available at academic settings or directly within hospitals (www.bls.gov). However, as a general rule, holding a higher-level degree, such as an associate's degree, is an efficient route to becoming a sonographer.
Most states do not require a level of education higher than an associate's degree. Licensing and certification are also not required for sonographers in most states. Industry trends do show how potential hires should have a strong background in mathematics, science or health. Most community colleges or baccalaureate universities with sonography include the general education requirements needed to be a highly trained professional with advanced critical thinking skills. Although a general degree in sonography is available, there are some training programs that are focused on specific regions of the body, such as reproduction or the breast region.
Where Can I Train Outside of Higher Education Institutions?
Associate degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography offer an excellent opportunity to jump into hospital training programs after you complete your degree. For example, many hospital training programs require you to hold an associate's or bachelor's degree in a medical or radiological science first.
If you graduate from an associate's or bachelor's degree program in an unrelated field, you may want to consider hospital training programs in sonography. Many hospital programs call their training programs 'diagnostic imaging programs' or refer to the programs simply as ultrasound programs. The training is most likely an 18-month program that meets 40 hours a week and includes clinical as well as classroom studies.
What Schools Offer This Program?
Sonography programs are part of many professional medical programs at community colleges. You are typically awarded an Associate of Applied Science after completing a 2-year degree program. Some schools offer certificates for areas of specialization, such as cardiac sonography or vascular sonography. A few specific schools that offer 2-year degree programs in sonography include:
- Lone Star College
- Red Rocks Community College
- Montgomery College
- Weatherford College
- Tarrant County College
- Maricopa Community Colleges
- Oregon Institute of Technology
What Courses Will I Take?
Most associate degree programs require completion of general education courses such as algebra, anatomy and physiology, physics, biology and psychology. You will likely be required to complete clinical experiences in addition to classroom learning. Specific courses might include:
- Ultrasound physics
- Medical terminology
- Sectional anatomy
- Sonographic instrumentation
- Vascular technology
Do I Need to Be Certified?
Some jobs at hospitals or health centers require their sonographers to be certified. To become certified, you need to work through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). The ARDMS offers many certification requirements and exams, including that you complete an associate's or bachelor's program that meets credit requirements in general medicine, radiological physics or sonography. Certification is also given if you focus your sonography education on a specific region of the body, such as the abdomen.