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Sonogram Technician Certificate and Diploma Programs

Majors Overview February 4, 2013

Completion of certificate or diploma programs in diagnostic medical or sonography helps Sonogram technicians hone their healthcare skills. They use these programs to learn about ultrasound physics and sonogram instrumentation that help in assessment and diagnoses of patients.

Sonogram Technicians Diploma

Coursework in the diploma program combines instruction delivered in classrooms with rotations in clinical settings. From this three-semester course, students gain fundamental knowledge of ultrasound technology and sonography and become proficient at imaging, processing and evaluation of sonography examinations.

Educational Requirement

Preference for admission is given to those who possess an undergraduate degree and graduates of two-year health sciences programs. In addition to showing proof of physical examinations, candidates must agree to a criminal background check. Candidates may be required to have completed a certain number of hours observing in a medical sonography environment. Competence in algebra and biology is required.

Course Topics

Students complete lab studies, courses, and supervised clinical training to achieve hands-on experience working with patients in a medical environment. Cooperative education or internship opportunities can also be availed by students in helping with preparation for the certification exam. Coursework includes Doppler sonography, Cardiovascular topics, Echo, Anatomy and physiology, Cross-section anatomy, Obstetrical sonography, Sonography physics, and Abdominal sonography.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

In May 2010, diagnostic medical sonographers earned an annual salary of $64,380 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov)). Job growth of eighteen percent has been projected during the period from 2008 to 2018. While diagnostic medical sonographers are typically employed in hospitals; medical labs and physician offices are also expected to employ them in the foreseeable future.

Sonogram Technicians Certificate

Similar to the diploma program, this course targets individual that are already employed in the medical field. Coursework that combines theory and practical instruction are used to teach students every aspect of medical sonography. The program requirements may be completed by the students within a year through full-time study. After completing the course; graduates will be prepare for the certification exam.

Educational Requirement

Only graduates in two-year health programs and licensed radiographers with clinical experience in medical diagnostic imaging or patient care are admitted to the program. A criminal background check, a drug screening and CPR certification are also required.

Course Topics

Coursework in the program includes didactic instruction combined with clinical rotations at various medical settings. Coursework topics include Breast sonography, Legal aspects of healthcare in sonography, Diagnostic medical imaging practices, Hands-on scanning, Obstetrical ultrasound, Vascular sonography and Small parts ultrasound.

Career Options

Sonography graduates may seek employment with diagnostic imaging organizations, hospitals, or doctor’s offices. Candidates may find a basic sonographer position or one that is specialized. There are several career titles that include: Vascular sonographer, Abdominal sonographer and Gynecologic sonographer.

Certification Information and Continuing Education

Admission to a certificate or diploma program is usually given to individuals already employed in the medical field, usually as radiographers. Aspiring sonogram technicians without medical training may be admitted in graduate degree programs in sonography, diagnostic medical imaging, or related fields. Although licensure or certification is not mandatory, sonographers could seek voluntary certification from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) (www.ardms.org) or other similar professional organizations. Graduates can become Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS) by passing the ARDMS exam. Applicants who major in a concentrated area of sonography can acquire certification in that focus area too. For example, breast and vascular sonographers are offered certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (www.arrt.org). Additionally, cardiac sonographers are offered certification by the Cardiovascular Credentialing International. Sonogram technicians are required to maintain certification through continuing education.

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