With an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree in ultrasound technology, graduates will be qualified to assist physicians in several medical fields. The most common area in which ultrasound technology is utilized is obstetrics, but ultrasound also helps physicians diagnose abdominal, vascular, and heart problems.
A.A. Programs in Ultrasound Technology
Students enrolled in a 2-year associate degree program in ultrasound technology are given the practical training necessary to working in the medical field as sonographers, as ultrasound technologists are also known, using sound waves aimed at obtaining images of soft tissue and inside the body. Coursework typically includes classroom lectures, laboratory experiences and clinical studies; graduates are awarded an Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Science. Coursework covers the interpretation of ultrasound images, scanning procedures and the technology of sonography. Generalized programs are offered by some schools, while students are asked to choose a major, such as vascular or cardiac ultrasound.
Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Incoming students are required by some schools to have previous health care experience. In many schools, students are required to complete courses in English composition, medical terminology, anatomy and biology before they are allowed to begin core coursework.
Coursework in ultrasound technology associate degree programs includes specific scanning methods aimed at different objectives. Coursework may include subject areas such as:
Job and Wage Outlook
A faster-than-average job growth rate of 18% has been projected for ultrasound technologists during the decade from 2008 to 2018 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The growth is expected to be driven by an aging population; job opportunities which are expected to remain steady in hospital settings are most likely to grow in outpatient clinics and physicians’ offices. In May 2010, ultrasound technologists took home an average annual wage of $64,380.
Continuing Education Choices
Job candidates are required by many employers to hold professional certification. Examinations in nine specialty areas are offered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Passage of the 3-hour test comprising 170 questions in any specialty will qualify an individual for certification as a Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT), a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS) or a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS). Credentials in sonographic principles and musculoskeletal sonography are also offered by the ARDMS.