The quick answer is no, you do not need a four-year degree to become an ultrasound technician
An ultrasound technician, also called a diagnostic medical sonographer, is a professional who uses special equipment to create images of the human body. These images are then used by physicians to make diagnoses.
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The Basic Requirements
There are basic requirements that are necessary for anyone considering pursuing a career in diagnostic medical sonography. Most diagnostic medical sonographers have an Associate’s Degree in diagnostic medical sonography or in a related field. However, there are some certificate and diploma programs that may be available in some areas.
What are the basic requirements?
So, you want to be an ultrasound technician. You’ve done your research and think this is the ideal career choice for you. But what are the basic requirements? Do you need a degree? What kind of degree do you need?
The first step is to earn a certificate or an associate’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography from an accredited program. Once you have completed your accredited program, you will then need to sit for and pass the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS)Sonography Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) exam.
After passing the SPI exam, you will then be able to apply for credentialing with the ARDMS in one or more of the following specialties: abdominal, breast, fetal echocardiography, obstetric, pediatric, small parts, and vascular sonography. Once credentialed, you will need to maintain your credential by completing continuing medical education (CME) credits and paying annual fees.
So yes, you do need a degree to become an ultrasound technician. But with hard work and dedication, you can achieve your goal of becoming a healthcare professional in this growing field!
What is the job outlook?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of diagnostic medical sonographers will grow much faster than the average for all occupations between 2018 and 2028, at a rate of about 28%. The aging baby-boomer population will need diagnostic imaging to detect health issues related to aging, such as cancer and heart disease, and an ever-growing number of women in the United States are scheduled for regular ultrasounds during pregnancy.(1)
The Education Requirements
The education requirements for an ultrasound tech are outlined in this section. The type of degree required, as well as the specific courses necessary, are included. Aspiring ultrasound techs must complete an accredited ultrasound program and obtain certification from the ARDMS.
What is the difference between an Associate’s Degree and a Bachelor’s Degree?
An Associate’s Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography is the minimum educational requirement to become credentialed and to work in the field. A Bachelor’s Degree may offer additional coursework in medical physiology, pathology, and patient care management.
What are the prerequisites for each type of degree?
In order to be eligible for most ultrasound technician programs, you will need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some programs may also require you to take and pass a criminal background check and/or drug test. In addition, most programs will require you to complete some prerequisite coursework in math and science before beginning the program.
Once you have completed all of the prerequisites, you will then need to decide what type of degree you want to pursue. The two most common types of degrees for ultrasound technicians are the associates degree and the bachelor’s degree.
The associate’s degree will typically take two years to complete, while the bachelor’s degree will take four years to complete. Both types of degrees will prepare you for a career as an ultrasound technician, but the bachelor’s degree will provide you with more advanced training and knowledge than the associate’s degree. In addition, Ultrasound technicians with a bachelor’s degree may be eligible for higher paying positions and jobs with more responsibility than those with an associate’s degree.
The Certification Requirements
Becoming an ultrasound tech doesn’t require a four-year degree, but certification is necessary. There are many ways to become certified, but the most common is to attend an accredited two-year program and then pass an exam. Many ultrasound techs also become certified in a specialty area. Let’s take a closer look at the certification process.
What is the difference between certification and licensure?
The short answer is that certification is voluntary and licensure is mandatory. In order to practice as an ultrasound technician, you must be licensed in the state where you intend to work. The requirements for licensure vary from state to state, but they typically include completing an accredited ultrasound program and passing a national exam. Certification is not required to practice, but many employers prefer or require it. There are several different organizations that offer certification, and each has its own requirements. Generally speaking, you will need to have completed an accredited ultrasound program and pass a national exam. Some organizations also require continuing education credits in order to maintain certification.
What are the requirements for each type of certification?
To become credentialed as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS), you must pass an exam administered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). The ARDMS offers two primary exams, one for abdominal sonography and one for obstetric and gynecologic sonography. You must also pass a physics exam. Once you’ve passed these exams, you will be credentialed as a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.
If you wish to specialize in a particular area of sonography, you can pursue additional certification through the ARDMS. For example, if you want to work in breast sonography, you can become certified as a Registered Breast Sonographer (RBS). Alternatively, if you want to work in cardiac sonography, you can become certified as a Registered Cardiac Sonographer (RCS). There are many other specialty areas of sonography, each with its own certification requirements.
In addition to certification exams, most employers will require that you have completed an accredited ultrasound technician program. There are many accredited programs across the country that offer Associate’s or Bachelor’s degrees in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. These programs will prepare you for the ARDMS exams and provide you with the clinical experience necessary to succeed in the field.
The Salary Expectations
Ultrasound technicians, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers or ultrasound technologists, use special equipment to create diagnostic images or sonograms of patients. They work in hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices, and their duties vary depending on their work setting. While most ultrasound technicians do not need a degree, some employers may prefer or require candidates to have an associate or bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography.
What is the average salary for an ultrasound tech?
The average salary for an ultrasound technician is $66,780 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salary varies based on factors such as education, certification, experience, and location.
What are the salary expectations with each type of degree?
The highest 10% of earners make more than $97,350 per year, while the lowest 10% of earners make less than $39,850 per year. The median salary for an ultrasound technologist is $68,750 per year.
There is a significant difference in earnings based on the type of degree held by an ultrasound technologist. Those with an associate’s degree earn a median salary of $64,380 per year, while those with a bachelor’s degree earn a median salary of $72,780 per year. Those with a master’s degree earn the highest median salary of $81,830 per year.