The sonography certificate programs train students who want to gain the knowledge and skills needed to work as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer or an ultrasound technician. Students entering ultrasound technician certificate programs today frequently have already earned an Allied Health degree or a degree in another discipline and want to upgrade and expand skills. Sonographers are familiar to most people as professionals who produce ultrasound images of fetuses, they also create images of a variety of organs, soft tissues and blood flows.
Advantages of Sonography Certificate Programs
The advantages of earning a certificate in sonography include:
Program is usually completed in no more than 12 to 18 months, depending on the student's educational status and prior work experience
May not have to complete clinical training, if the student has an Allied Health degree earned by completing one of the CAAHEP accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography programs
Can earn a vocational certificate in sonography to supplement prior training and expand career opportunities
Tips on How to Find the Best Certificate Sonography Programs
Students should not concentrate on schools, but rather focus on finding an affordable sonography program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (CAAHEP). Important points to keep in mind include the following:
Verify the certificate program in sonography is CAAHEP accredited, as opposed to institutional or school accreditation
Make sure the program offers a certificate earned by completing college credits, unless the intent is to only earn continuing education credits
Verify the program prepares the student to pass ARDMS exams to become a certified sonographer so the student can go to work as quickly as possibly
What to Expect from Ultrasound Technician Certificate Programs?
As a minimum, certificate sonography programs require students applying for admission to have completed a designated number of credits in specific courses. The courses normally include college algebra, anatomy and physiology, speech medical terminology, and physics. However, many certificate programs require the student to have already earned an Associate's degree in sonography.
In addition, some programs will allow students to meet prerequisites if they completed courses in radiology, nuclear medicine, radiation therapy, or Diagnostic Medical Sonography (if pursuing a specialty certificate) or have already earned certain healthcare certification, licensure or registry as a Certified Nursing Student, Registered Nurse, Registered Medical Assistant, Respiratory Therapist, Radiologic Technologist, or Certified EMT. The many prerequisite pathways mean students should carefully review individual program prerequisites and discuss their eligibility with a program professional.
Earning a certificate usually takes 12 months, but may take longer if additional clinical training is needed. Not all certificate programs require clinical training when waived based on the student having earned a relevant degree in a healthcare field or has work experience. Clinical training may be completed concurrently with the didactic training or completed after all coursework is completed.
Tuition Fees and Costs
Tuition and fees vary from program to program, and can cost as much as $15,000 for one year, though most programs cost significantly less. A lot depends on the location of the program because costs vary from school to school and state to state. It is important to check with the school's financial aid office and ask about availability of ultrasound scholarships.
Salary and Job Outlook Details
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average sonography technician salary was $67,170 annual or $32.29 per hour as of May 2013. When cardiovascular technicians and technologists and vascular technologists are added in, the median annual wage was $66,410 or $31.93 per hour. The employment outlook is excellent with an estimated 35,300 new job openings projected for the period 2012 to 2022. When cardiovascular technologists and vascular technologies are included, the number of new jobs grows to 42,700.
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