ultrasound technician

Ultrasound Technician: Choosing Your Educational Path

After a lot of research, you may have finally decided you want to become an ultrasound technician. Your next question is what type of ultrasound tech school you should attend and which ultrasound tech classes you should take. You’re probably hearing all about certificates, degrees, and certifications but are uncertain as to what they mean and what your specific needs are. Continue reading and get a better understanding of what you need and want in terms of ultrasound technician training.

What Types of Ultrasound Technician Programs are Available?

If you were confused before, you may find your confusion is compounded when you learn there are a few different degree levels available in the field of sonography. However, it’s simpler than you may think. Ultrasound technician programs are generally offered as certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree programs.

  • Certificate programs usually take the least amount of time to complete but are generally postgraduate programs designed for professionals who already have a degree and are working in a related medical field but wish to advance their training and become ultrasound technicians. Many confuse certificate with certification. They are two very different terms, which will be further explained below.
  • Associate degree programs are frequently chosen by those who are just starting out and anticipating careers as ultrasound technicians. Associate degree programs offer both coursework and clinical rotations so students can obtain real experience working in a medical facility and performing the sonography procedures. Students can typically complete an associate degree program in two years.
  • Bachelor’s degree programs are not pursued as commonly as associate degree programs, or at least not by those interested in working as entry-level ultrasound technicians. Bachelor degree programs take four years to complete but offer higher levels of education and training.

Is There a Difference Between a Degree and Certification?

There is a huge difference between a degree and certification. They are two completely different things. A degree is the level of study you choose in the program. For instance, ultrasound technology is offered as certificate, associate, and bachelor degrees. When you satisfactorily complete the requirements of the program, you’ll earn either a certificate of achievement or a degree, such as an Associate of Science in Ultrasound Technology or a Bachelor of Science in Ultrasound Technology. Certification is something you earn after you complete your degree. In fact, completing the degree is required before you can apply for certification.

Which is More Important: a Degree or Certification?

Degrees and certification are almost equally important in this field. Most employers require their ultrasound technicians be certified by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), but completing an accredited sonography program is required before you can become certified. Therefore, degrees and certification essentially go together.

How do I Obtain Certification?

To obtain certification and earn the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer credential through the ARDMS, you must first complete a sonography program that’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Once you’ve met all requirements, you have to pass a comprehensive certification exam. The ARDMS offers several types of sonography certifications.

Last Updated: April 22, 2015