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Ultrasound Tech Degree and Training Programs

Ultrasound technicians use sound waves to produce images of internal organs. Find out about the degree and certificate programs that can prepare you for work as an ultrasound tech what job options you'll have in this field and the job outlook and salary prospects.

What Ultrasound Tech Degree and Training Programs Are Available?

There are two levels of education for this field, resulting in a certificate of completion or an associate degree. Certificate programs usually last less than a year, and associate's degree programs can take up to two years to complete. These programs are mostly offered through community colleges.

You might be able to find distance education programs in a hybrid format for this area of study. These programs may require you to complete hands-on practice through practicum and clinical work. Your hands-on training can train you how to properly operate, maintain and position ultrasound equipment. You might also learn how to work with patients and follow physician directions.

Program Levels Certificate, associate's degree
Common Courses Sonographic scanning, cross-sectional anatomy, scanning protocols, bioethics
Career Options Ultrasound technician, diagnostic medical technician, ultrasonographer, echocardiograph technician
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 23% growth (for all diagnostic medical sonographers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Courses Can I Expect?

Associate's degree programs often contain the courses found in certificate programs. Your program can teach you how to interpret physician findings, prepare patients for procedures, print results, adjust machine settings and provide patient care.

Your program may provide courses in echocardiography, sonographic scanning, physical concepts, cross-sectional anatomy, scanning protocols, medical terminology, bioethics, Doppler physics, small parts sonography and patient care for all ages. An associate's degree program may require additional general education courses in general psychology, physics, humanities, English composition and mathematics.

What Can I Do With My Education?

Jobs available for this field include echocardiograph technician, ultrasonographer, ultrasound technician and diagnostic medical technician.

Although it is not required, you are more likely to be hired if you earn certification. The main certification for this field is the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) designation offered through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). You need to complete at least an associate's degree program to qualify for the certification exam. If you are interested in advancing your career, ARDMS also offers specialty certifications in obstetrics, gynecology, abdomen scanning, neurosonology and breast scanning.

If you have experience in cardiovascular sonography, you can also earn certification from the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). The Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) designation can also be earned from ARDMS.

What Is My Job Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a 23% increase in medical diagnostic sonographer positions between 2016 and 2026 (www.bls.gov). New procedures, safer technology and an aging population may be the reason for growth. As of May 2018, the BLS estimated that the median salary for this field was $72,510.