Ultrasonography Degree and Certification Programs

Ultrasonography involves using sound waves to create an image of the body's internal structures. Find out about associate degrees, which are the most common way to prepare for this career, although bachelor's degrees are offered as well. You can also earn professional certification in various specialty areas. Schools offering Diagnostic Medical Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Can I Begin a Career in Ultrasonography?

In order to work in ultrasonography, you must obtain a minimum of a 2-year degree from an accredited program, and 4-year degree programs are available. Focusing on cardiac sonography prepares you for a career as an echocardiographer or vascular sonographer. Other specialization pathways allow you to work with expectant mothers, breast cancer patients or those needing diagnostic imaging of the eye, brain or abdominal organs. Each specialization has its own experiential requirements and certification exams. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you are not required to be state or board certified; however, the BLS suggests that employers prefer sonographers who have registered with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography .

Degree LevelsAssociate and bachelor's
Course TopicsBiology, anatomy, physics, medical terminology
Certification TitlesExams given by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography or Cardiovascular Credentialing International
Median Salary (2018)$72,510 (for diagnostic medical sonographers)*
Job Outlook (2016-26)23% growth (for all diagnostic medical sonographers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Ultrasonography Degree Program Consist Of?

Training is most widely available at the 2-year associate degree level, though bachelor's degree programs allow you to pursue certification before graduation. In both associate and bachelor's degree programs, you would take general science courses such as biology, physics and anatomy in addition to core classes covering medical terminology, patient care and sonography. Experiential elements are often included within an ultrasonography curriculum; you may need to visit off-site medical facilities to work with physicians and sonographers while learning to use ultrasound equipment.

Do I Need Additional Certification?

Degree-holders can seek Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) certification through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Credentials in obstetric and gynecological, fetal, abdomenal, neurosonology and breast imaging signal to prospective employers that you have completed educational and professional training in one or more focused areas of diagnostic medical ultrasound. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) also offers a sonography certification.

Echocardiographers can pursue the ARDMS' Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) certification specializing in pediatric, adult or fetal echocardiography. If you work in vascular or cardiac ultrasound, you might also attain certification as a Registered Vascular Specialist (RVS), Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS) or Registered Congenital Cardiac Sonographer (RCCS) through Cardiovascular Credentialing International.

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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