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Education Required to Be an Ultrasound Technician ¶ June 4

Education Required to Be an Ultrasound Technician

by Tanya Robertson, Demand Media

Ultrasound technicians, or sonographers, are trained to operate specialized diagnostic equipment that takes images within a patient's body. The procedure may be referred to as an ultrasound, sonogram or echocardiogram. These images are made by utilizing sound waves, and they help physicians diagnose certain medical conditions. A degree in sonography is required to work as an ultrasound technician. Special certifications, licenses and continuing education requirements may also be necessary.

Degree in Sonography

The first step to becoming an ultrasound technician is to obtain the necessary education. This typically means earning either a two-year associate's or a four-year bachelor's degree in sonography from an accredited university. As part of the curriculum, students learn about anatomy and medical terminology, and how to operate sonography equipment and interpret sonographic images. Students also receive clinical training, and most programs allow students to specialize in particular areas, such as abdominal or breast sonography.

Certificate Programs

Candidates who are already employed within the medical field and have prior degrees in subjects such as nursing may be able to fast-track their education. Some schools offer certificate programs for those wishing to advance into ultrasound technician roles. These certificate programs typically take one year and also require both coursework and clinical training. Because these students already have training in the medical field, they're able to skip over many general education classes, allowing them to obtain certification much faster. To employers, a post-graduate certificate is equal to a degree in sonography because, in the end, the same curriculum is covered.

Related Reading: Pros & Cons of Being an Ultrasound Technician


Ultrasound technicians can further enhance their professional credentials with certification in a specialty area, such as abdominal sonography. Most accredited programs automatically offer professional certifications to students who pass a certification examination issued by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography, or ARDMS, at the end of their studies. While certification isn't always required to become an ultrasound technician, most employers prefer both certification and specialization.

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Continuing Education Requirements

Ultrasound technicians must maintain their professional certifications by meeting continuing education requirements. For example, ARDMS requires 30 continuing medical education credits, or CMEs, in each three-year period to maintain certifications. Technicians can earn CMEs by obtaining additional certifications or taking classes through approved sponsors. For each additional certification obtained, the student can earn 15 CMEs. If choosing to take classes through an approved sponsor, be aware that fees vary.

About the Author

Tanya Robertson has been writing professionally since 1999 and editing since 2004. She has contributed to Trix 4 Travel and established a writing services company, International Composition. Robertson holds a Bachelor of Science in legal studies and a Master of Business in accounting from Davenport University.

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