Guide to Sonography Technician Programs and Degrees

Sonography uses ultrasound waves for diagnosing various ailments and even offering therapy in some cases. While there are few schools that offer online degrees in sonography exclusively, health science and IT programs can help you start your career as a sonographer. Below are several schools with online programs related to sonography.

Kaplan University – Kaplan University offers two health AS degrees in Health IT and in Medical Assisting. This program allows students to earn valuable health care credentials online. Students will acquire real-world knowledge and practical skills to help them prepare for a career in the health care industry.
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Rasmussen College – Rasmussen College offers an AAS in Health IT degree that can be completed online. This program teaches students what they need to know in order to successfully work alongside nurses and doctors caring for patients. It will also prepare students for national certification exam.
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Click here to see more Sonography Technician Programs is a site that provides potential students with the information needed to match them to an online program in order to obtain a degree or certificate in sonography. Although professionals in this field are more commonly referred to as sonographers or technologists, sonography technician is a term often used colloquially in reference to jobs in this field as well. Below you will find a list of various programs and degrees offered as well as helpful information regarding your education and potential careers.

1) Types of Sonography Degrees Offered:

Listed below are the many degrees and certificates available in the area of diagnostic medical sonography.

  1. Associate of Applied Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (AAS in DMS) This two year degree is often chosen by many aspiring sonographers and focuses on the use of high frequency waves to show images of the patients’ organs and internal body structures.
  2. Associate of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (AS in DMS) Similar to the above, this degree concentrates on the use of imaging equipment, along with medical terminology, anatomy, biology and other related coursework.
  3. Associate of Applied Science in Cardiovascular Sonography (AAS in CS) This degree focuses on the use of high frequency waves to observe the functions of the heart and blood vessels.
  4. Associate of Applied Science in Radiologic Technology The skills you will learn with this degree with will be applied to a career where you use imaging to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries.
  5. Associate of Science in Allied Health (AS in AH) Clinical healthcare providers holding a degree in allied health are generally medical assistants, technicians and therapists. They work on medical teams to help provide a variety of technical support.
  6. Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging Science (BS in MIS) This four-year degree prepares students for a career in sonography technology, where they will apply the use of x-rays, ultrasounds and MRIs to diagnose illnesses and injuries.
  7. Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology (BS in RT) This is another four-year degree offered, and it prepares students to perform procedures to show images of the body in order to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries.
  8. Certificate in Diagnostic Medical Sonography There are many agencies and even schools that offer certificates in diagnostic medical sonography, often to those currently in nursing or other related fields, to prepare them to work with ultrasound equipment in order to broaden their careers and specializations.
  9. Certificate in Cardiovascular Sonography Like the above, this certificate is awarded to those who have met similar requirements in the field of cardiovascular sonography.
  10. Certificate in Magnetic Resonance Imaging If you are looking to become an MRI technologist, this certificate will provide the understanding and critical thinking skills necessary to advance your career in radiology.

Listed above are just some of the degrees and certificates available in the field of diagnostic medical sonography. The sonography field is broken down into areas of specialty based on which body system is being studied and treated, and these degrees offer coursework, proper training and critical thinking skills to obtain careers in this field.

2) Where Can I Find Sonography Technician Degree Rankings?

If looking for sonography school rankings, there are not many places to turn to. Although U.S. News & World Report is known to put out a list of top colleges in many different areas, diagnostic medical imaging is not often one of them.

However, before taking any sort of sonography school rankings too seriously, the main thing to look for in a college, school, institution, or university is accreditation. One of the most nationally renowned agencies for accrediting schools for sonography technicians is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. They feature an easy to search database. There are nearly 2,000 CAAHEP accredited programs that prepare entry-level practitioners in 22 health sciences professions. Simply click on “Diagnostic Medical Sonographer” under Profession Name to begin searching for accredited programs. There are also options for cardiovascular technologists, electroneurodiagnostic technician, and many others.

When choosing between sonography technician schools, it is important to consider what matters to the student. U.S. New & World Report uses items such as faculty to student ratio, tuition costs, freshmen GPA, and others to rank their schools. However, items such as out of pocket costs, flexibility of classes offered, transfer credit policy, and more can all mean different things to different students. Applying to several different schools cannot only let students know which they are accepted to, but can also tell them what out of pocket costs will be before enrollment and can be very useful when choosing a school.

3) Can I Transfer Sonography Technician Degree Credits?

Students who already have some college courses or even degrees completed can and should ask their future or prospective school as soon as possible about their transfer credit policy. Having transfer credits accepted cannot only significantly cut down on time spent studying by giving credits for classes already taken, but tuition costs are also reduced. Getting transfer credits for core classes such as math, English, history, and more can all mean entering a degree program in sonography technology at a more advanced level.

However, there are obstacles to obtaining transfer credits. Although there are schools that can be regionally accredited and offer sonography technician degrees, if they are not approved by a nationally accredited agency, such as the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, transfer credits might be denied. If both the past and future schools are accredited by the same agency, transfer credits are more likely to happen.

Another obstacle to obtaining sonography technician transfer credits is the issue of collegiate level classes versus continuing education. While college level classes do transfer in the basics, and in some cases even specially classes, continuing education classes are meant for adults who already have some form of education who want to learn more and are far less likely to transfer. If classes are eligible for transfer, the new school will only allow so many and they generally have to be passed with a minimum GPA of the new school’s choosing.

4) What Sort of Careers are Common With a Sonography Degree?

Just as there are many areas of sonography technology, there are many careers, a few of which are listed below.

  1. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Also called an ultrasound tech, they are charged with administering imaging tests to patients.
  2. Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer Similar to the above, this career specifically asks that candidates be certified and usually by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers.
  3. Medical Instrument Technician Sonography can be just one of the areas this technician is trained in and they are often tasked with maintenance of equipment.
  4. Medical Ultrasound Technologist More medical and ultrasound knowledge in the form of education and/or experience are required in this sonography career.
  5. Ultrasound Sonographer Also like the above, an extensive knowledge of ultrasound sonography is part of this job.
  6. Cardiovascular TechnologistImaging tests for the heart and related systems are what this technologist is trained in.
  7. Vascular Technologist Also trained in imaging tests for the heart, this tech can have knowledge of both invasive and non-invasive diagnostic tests.
  8. Radiologic Technician Similar to ultrasound technicians, these techs specialize in x-rays and other forms of related imaging.
  9. Diagnostic Ultrasound Technologist These technologists actually assist or lead in making diagnosis from imaging tests. An advanced degree and experience is usually required.

And the above are just some of the careers available with a sonography degree. Specialties within the area can include ultrasound, echocardiogram, x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear medicine, and many others.

5) How do I Become a Sonography Technician?

There are actual several paths one can take in order to become a sonography technician. One of the quickest and easiest ways to do so is through specialty high schools. Often available as an alternate in many school districts, these specialty schools teach all sorts of trades, including those for healthcare and sonography. By simply graduating from this type of program instead of a traditional high school, students can be ready to become sonography technicians.

The more traditional way to become a sonographer is by obtaining a college degree in the area. Although there are increasingly many bachelor’s, or four-year programs, the associate’s degree in sonography technology or related is usually the degree of choice and takes two years to complete when students have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Along with a college education, certification is often chosen or required of sonographers. Although no state requires a certification, license, or government registration, there are employers who will not hire a sonography technician without a certification. One of the most popular certifications is from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. They have fourteen certifications to choose from in areas like sonography principles, vascular, cardiac, and the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, which is one of the more popular certifications offered.

6) What is the Average Annual Salary of Someone With a Sonography Degree?

One of the most commonly used means to determine average annual salaries is to consult the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They currently list diagnostic medical sonographers with $61,980 per year in earnings as of May of 2008.

7) Where Can I Find Sonography Technician Scholarships and Grants?

Because paying for a sonography technician education can be expensive, we have listed a few funding opportunities below.

  1. FAFSA A first stop for anyone looking for a scholarship or grant is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. In addition to many scholarships asking for it, the form is needed to be filled out and turned in order to receive any kind of federal grants.
  2. Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography Foundation The SDMS offers several grant and scholarship programs to its members each year.
  3. ARRS The American Roentgen Ray Society Scholarship is intended to support study in a field selected by the student and helps to prepare them for positions of leadership in academic radiology.
  4. SVU The Society for Vascular Ultrasound provides scholarships to students who wish to pursue an education in vascular technology.
  5. AIUM Grants The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine offers up to $10,000 in grant money for clinical and basic science ultrasound research projects.
  6. Pearson This scholarship is intended for all allied health students, including sonography technicians, who can cleverly answer one question.
  7. AMVETS If you are a veteran, the child of a veteran, or even the grandchild of a veteran, you can qualify for these scholarships.
  8. Tylenol Scholarship Program The makers of the popular drug offer $5,000 and $10,000 scholarships to students who are pursuing careers in the medical field.

And the above are just some of the ways to pay for a sonography technician education. The best way to reduce the cost of an education is to contact the financial aid office of the school you are currently attending or possibly plan to attend in the future. After applying for and being accepted to, fill out all relevant forms before deadline to see how much scholarship and grant money you qualify for. With different schools returning different totals, choosing between them can become far easier.