Sonogram Tech Education Requirements and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a sonogram technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Sonogram technicians, also known as ultrasound technicians, use high-frequency sound waves to image patients' internal organs and help in the diagnosis of illnesses and disease. Most sonogram technicians are employed in hospitals, although some work in doctors' offices and other healthcare facilities. The majority of sonographers hold a 2-year degree in sonography, and many choose to earn voluntary certification to better compete for jobs.

Required Education Associate's degree in sonogram technology or a similar field; certificate programs are also available for those with professional experience in healthcare
Other Requirements Voluntary certifications are available
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 46% for diagnostic medical sonographers*
Mean Annual Salary (2013) $67,170 for diagnostic medical sonographers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

Although aspiring sonogram techs might receive on-the-job training, they typically complete a 2-year program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Students learn to use sonography equipment and interpret the output. Some of the course topics include instrumentation, anatomy and physiology, basic echocardiography, medical terminology and ultrasound equipment.

In addition to coursework, students participate in clinicals under the supervision of sonographers. Some schools also offer 1-year programs, although these programs are geared toward professionals already working in the healthcare industry who want to change careers.

Certification

Although certification is not a state requirement for employment, many sonogram techs choose certification to improve their employment opportunities. Certification is available through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Sonogram techs can choose to be certified in a sonography specialty.

To obtain certification, they must complete training and pass an examination in physics and instrumentation. Sonogram technicians must complete continuing education to maintain certification.

Career Information

Sonogram techs can choose from several specialties. Obstetric and gynecologic sonographers specialize in imaging and diagnosing the female reproductive system, both during and after pregnancy. Sonographers also might focus on imaging patients' abdominal cavity to help diagnose ailments associated with such organs as the pancreas, kidneys, liver and spleen.

Neurosonographers are skilled in the examination of the brain and nervous system. Other sonographers specialize in the study of breast tissue to monitor blood supply, tumor growth and biopsy accuracy.

Career and Salary Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), diagnostic medical sonographers earned a mean annual wage of $67,170 as of 2013 (www.bls.gov). Job opportunities were predicted to grow by 46% from 2012-2022, which was much greater than average. Aging patients in need of diagnostic imaging and healthcare providers choosing ultrasound imaging rather than radiologic procedures were two factors contributing to the employment growth, reported the BLS.

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  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at George Washington University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
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      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
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    Areas of study you may find at Grand Valley State University include:
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    • Michigan (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Ferris State University include:
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    • New York (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Rochester Institute of Technology include:
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      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
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    • Oklahoma (1 campus)
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    • Florida (1 campus)
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    • Michigan (3 campuses)
    Areas of study you may find at Baker College include:
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      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics