Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ultrasound Technician Education Requirements

Ultrasound medical imaging is a field for which there are several academic options. There may be no licensure requirements for medical sonographers. In the not-too-distant past, radiologic technicians simply learned how to use the equipment and did the exams themselves.

All of that is rapidly changing, with the possible exception of licensure although it is probably inevitable. Today you may train in medical sonography at a vocational school, a community college or a university.

Certificate Programs

There are certificate programs for ultrasound technicians that may be completed in two years or less, depending on the school. Some of these programs require applicants to have completed courses in biology, medical terminology and in some cases physics. In community colleges that offer ultrasound degrees, their certificate program often includes the same medical classes as the degree program.

Associate’s Degree

You may attain an Associate’s Degree in Medical Sonography after two years of study; this is the level of education that most ultrasound students may prefer to pursue. There may be accelerated associate’s programs that include summer programs, but it may takes two full years of study to really prepare for a medical sonography career, especially when you are completing the core courses for an associate’s program as well.

Bachelor’s Degree

More and more schools may also offer a Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Sonography. When considering this option, you might want to take a look at what is happening in the nursing industry right now.

Tens of thousands of nurses who pursue RNs with an associate’s degree may go back to school to get a bachelor’s: RN to BSN is the degree description. 

A Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Sonography may give you a head start on specialization in the field should you choose to pursue it. There is also the option of pursuing an associate’s degree and completing the bachelor’s after you’re working.


There may be no requirement for certification in medical ultrasound, but it is becoming more and more important to employers. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) has a certification examination program which, when successfully completed, may provide you with status as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.

The examination may consist of two parts. The first part, which every applicant must take, is the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) exam. This test is mostly physics.

The second part of the exam is one of the following specialty options:

  • Abdomen
  • Breast
  • Fetal Echocardiography
  • Neurosonology
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology

Certification remains an option today, but it may become increasingly important as continuing status an RDMS, which may require renewal and continuing education.

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