Associate of Ultrasound Technology: Degree Overview
An associate degree for ultrasound technology qualifies graduates to assist physicians in a variety of medical fields. Obstetrics is the most commonly known area in which ultrasound technology is used, but ultrasound also helps physicians diagnose heart, abdominal and vascular problems.
Ultrasound Technology Associate Degree
A 2-year associate degree in ultrasound technology program gives students the practical training needed to work in the medical field as ultrasound technologists, also known as sonographers, who use sound waves to obtain images of organs and soft tissue inside the body. It typically includes classroom, laboratory and clinical experience and results in an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science. It covers the technology of sonography, scanning procedures and the interpretation of ultrasound images. Some schools offer generalized programs, while other schools ask the student to choose a major, such as cardiac or vascular ultrasound.
Applicants to an ultrasound technology program must have a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Some schools prefer applicants with previous health care experience. Most programs require that students have completed courses in biology, anatomy, medical terminology and English composition.
Ultrasound technology associate degree programs teach specific methods of scanning for different purposes. Possible required courses include:
- Abdominal sonography
- Vascular sonography
- Obstetric sonography
- Ultrasound equipment
- Medical ethics
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment for diagnostic medical sonographers to grow by approximately 44% between 2010-2020, largely due to the health care demands of an aging population (www.bls.gov). The BLS also predicts that the biggest job growth will be in physicians' offices and at outpatient clinics. In May 2012, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for a sonographer was $65,860.
Continuing Education Information
Many employers require job candidates to have professional certification. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) offers exams in nine specialty areas. After passing the 3-hour, 170-question test in any specialty, the individual is certified as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS), a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) or a Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT). ARDMS also offers credentials in musculoskeletal sonography and in sonographic principles.
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