Prenatal Sonography Technician: Programs & Colleges

A prenatal sonography technician uses sound-frequency technology to produce visual images of a pregnant woman's uterus. Read on to find out where you can get a sonography degree and what you'll learn in the process. Schools offering Diagnostic Medical Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Kind of Degree Do I Need to Become a Prenatal Sonography Technician?

The most common education level for aspiring prenatal sonography technicians is an associate's degree. Many accredited colleges and universities offer Associate in Applied Science degrees in diagnostic medical sonography. Within those programs, a few schools offer concentrations in obstetrics and gynecology. Most schools offer general diagnostic medical sonography programs, which teach students the ultrasound skills necessary to administer sonograms to pregnant women. Graduation from an associate's degree program at an accredited institution is sufficient to sit for the professional sonographer's certification exam offered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). The ARDMS, a nonprofit industry professional association, offers a specific credential for sonographers specializing in obstetrics and gynecology upon passage of an examination that tests both academic and hands-on knowledge in prenatal sonograms.

While most diagnostic medical sonography associate's degree program take place on campus, a few schools do offer distance learning programs. Online programs still have the same clinical laboratory requirements as their on-campus counterparts. Some schools also offer certificates in diagnostic medical sonography, but associate's degrees are the most common educational path, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Prenatal Sonography Degree OptionsAssociate's degree required for professional certification and entry-level employment
Relevant Associate's Degree Course ContentAbdominal and pelvic scanning techniques, sonogram reading, patient care
School OptionsAccredited associate's degree programs at community colleges in every state

What Will I Learn in a Diagnostic Sonography Associate's Degree Program?

As a student in a sonography associate's degree program, you'll acquire all the anatomical knowledge you need to safely administer sonograms of pregnant women's abdominal and pelvic areas, including in-depth studies of the reproductive organs. In addition to anatomy and physiology courses, programs typically teach basics in physics, biology and medical terminology. Several required lab courses will give you practice in administering sonograms in the first, second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Some programs require completion of clinical lab courses under the supervision of experienced sonographers, while others require an internship or field study, but some form of hands-on experience is always a part of associate's degree curricula. In required courses, you'll learn different techniques for taking pelvic and abdominal sonograms and for reading the results. Associate's degree programs will also teach you everything you need to know about patient relations, including how to take health history information, specific scanning techniques for potential health or pregnancy-related complications and how to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and other germs. Common course topics relevant to prenatal sonography may include:

  • Physics and electromagnetics in sonographic imaging
  • Ultrasound Doppler functions and readings
  • Fetal and uterine abnormalities
  • Embryo and fetal structures
  • Transabdominal and transvaginal scanning modalities
  • Acoustic instrumentation
  • Transducer maintenance
  • Patient body mechanics
  • Doppler resolutions and display modes

Which Schools Offer Diagnostic Sonography Degrees?

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) grants accreditation status to 223 diagnostic medical sonography associate's degree programs in the U.S., with several such schools in most states. The majority of these schools are two-year community colleges or four-year schools that grant mostly associate's degrees, but degrees are also available through career training colleges focusing on allied health or technology. Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio, is one example of a two-year school with a comprehensive diagnostic medical sonography program. In addition to teaching the standard sonography skills detailed above, its Associate of Applied Science degree program offers students specialized training in gynecology-focused sonography. It also has affiliate health centers where students complete their clinical hours. A few schools, such as Jackson College in Jackson, Michigan, have online associate's degree programs in sonography. Jackson College's program also allows students to declare abdominal/obstetric sonography as an area of concentration and requires completion of 1,350 clinical hours at an off-campus site approved by the school. Non-clinical coursework is completed online.

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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