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How to Become an Ultrasound Technician Attending the Best Colleges in the US

Charles M. Carlsen

Published February 21, 2024
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The ultrasound career has grown in popularity across the globe and is a well-paying profession, especially in the US.
With an average annual ultrasonographer salary of $87,623, any ultrasound technician in the US can expect to take home between $71,817 and $103,839 each year. And that figure can increase depending on the State and the annual labor market changes.(1)
But before you can enjoy the rewarding ultrasound technician salaries, you have to train to become one, which takes time, money, and other resources.
So, if you are wondering, how do I become an ultrasound technician, this article is for you. I’ll tell you what ultrasound technicians do, how to become an ultrasound technician, and the best colleges for sonography

What Does an Ultrasound Technician Do?

So, what is an ultrasound technician, and what do they do?
An ultrasound technician is a medical support professional who takes images of body organs using high-frequency ultrasound equipment to help medics make well-informed diagnoses.
As a difference with radiology technicians, ultrasound technicians use non-invasive procedures to detect abnormal tissues or tissue growth and other medical conditions.
Because of the current demand for diagnostic imaging as a key diagnostic tool and the preference for non-invasive ultrasound imaging, ultrasound technicians are in high demand. This demand creates an equally high availability of ultrasound technician jobs.(2)
In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment possibilities for sonographers and ultrasound technicians will grow steadily by 10% in the decade between 2022 and 2032, with projections for approximately 9,600 job openings each year.(3)
However, if becoming an ultrasound technician sounds like the career of your dreams, you’ll need to follow the due procedure of becoming one in the best US colleges for ultrasound techs.

How to Become an Ultrasound Technician

How to Become an Ultrasound Technician
Taking high-quality ultrasound images and correctly interpreting and reporting them is crucial. That’s because doctors use this information to diagnose and make treatment decisions for their patients.
To be good at their job, ultrasound technicians must undergo the required initial training and education before accumulating experience and becoming experts.
So, here are the steps to becoming an ultrasound Technician.

Step 1.Meet the Prerequisites for Training as an Ultrasound Technician

Anyone aspiring to become an ultrasound technician must have a high school diploma or its equivalent, which could be the General Education Development (GED) certificate if you did not complete high school. Even with these certificates, you may also need to pass entry exams such as the SAT or ACT, depending on the admitting college.

Step 2.Decide the Kind of Ultrasound Training and Education to Pursue

There are different training and education paths towards becoming an ultrasound technician. These vary depending on your existing level of education and your career aspirations
These options include:
  • A direct entry to the ultrasound job market: This is available only for electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) technicians with a high school diploma and looking for entry-level jobs.
  • A certificate in sonography: This is the quickest option to becoming an ultrasound technician after the reserved direct entry option. It can take as short as 12 months and applies to those with a high school diploma or its equivalent. It is also for medical graduates who want to pursue a specialty in sonography.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The certificate takes one year of coursework and practicum. However, you might need to take certification exams, especially in states where a certificate is required to work as an ultrasound sonographer.
  • An Associate degree in sonography: This option has the same high school requirements as the certificate in sonography. However, it is a 2-year coursework and practicum course and is considered the standard entry preparation course for ultrasound technicians in the US.                       

    Your choice college for ultrasonography training should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or another relevant body.
  • A Bachelor’s degree in sonography: Those who go for a 4-year Bachelor's degree in ultrasound sonography opt for a more demanding preparation that includes thousands of hours of practicum in clinical settings and ultrasound imaging procedures. As such, they have better chances for employment and high salaries and can apply for leadership and management jobs in sonography departments.

Step 3.Get Accredited and Keep Training

After completing your course as an ultrasound technician, it is important to be accredited by the relevant bodies because most employers prefer people with certification and accreditation.
You can seek accreditation with the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
In both cases, getting certified entails taking and passing the Sonography Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) exam and another exam in your preferred specialty, such as abdomen, OB/GYN, or musculoskeletal sonography.
And don’t stop at the certification stage. Instead, keeping up with the latest advancements in the ultrasound field is crucial for a successful career. So, taking professional certificate courses towards this end is important.
Consider some of the Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses to keep building your expertise and increasing your chances for promotion and better pay.(5)

Step 4.Gain Experience and Become an Expert

There’s nothing that works best at becoming an expert in your job like experience does. The same is true for ultrasound technicians.
Gaining experience is not just about the passing of years. It’s also about putting your best foot into your career and proofing your efficiency. It also entails joining professional bodies where you can share knowledge and skills with others in the same field and taking the Continuing Medical Education courses mentioned above.
On that note, we can now review briefly some of the best colleges for ultrasound technicians in the US.

Best Colleges for Ultrasound Tech in the US

There are many good colleges for ultrasound technicians in the US. These have state-of-the-art ultrasound equipment. They offer a combination of coursework and practicum in several specialties, including OB/GYN, abdominal, vascular, neonatal, and small parts sonography. The schools also have fee rates and considerations for different student categories. Besides, they are accredited by the relevant bodies.
Following are 6 of the best ultrasound tech schools in the US.

1.George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC offers certificate and degree programs in Sonography. Students in both programs have 40 hours of coursework weekly and can choose to focus on general, cardiac, and vascular sonography or combinations of these.
Those in the degree program also take courses in other areas, such as health management and policy and current healthcare trends. Bachelor’s students can apply for the ARDMS exam and receive accreditation before graduation.
The program is CAAHEP-accredited
George Washington University Medical Center overview:
  • Location: Ross Hall, 2300 Eye Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20037
  • Type of School: Private
  • Annual Tuition:$45,346 (Annual increments between 2.5 and 4%).
  • Admissions rate: 2.5%
  • Undergrad tuition in state: $62,200
  • Undergrad tuition out of state: $62,200
  • Total online bachelor’s Program:1
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP

2.University of California in San Diego

The University of California in San Diego offers a Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program. The 14-month program has coursework, clinical practice, research, and patient care aspects. The varied aspects help future ultrasound technicians be highly qualified in general sonography and specialty skills in vascular, OB, pelvic, small parts, and neonatal sonography.
The program is CAAHEP-accredited.
University of California in San Diego Overview:
  • Location: 9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, CA 92093
  • Type of School: Public
  • Annual Tuition: $15,000
  • Admissions rate: 34%
  • Undergrad tuition in state: $14,906
  • Undergrad tuition out of state: $44,978
  • Total online bachelor’s Program: Numerous

3.University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences offers a Bachelor of Science Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. The program accepts 13-14 students at a time. The students can choose between vascular and echocardiography.
To graduate, the student must complete 47 credits in prerequisite courses and 120 credits in professional courses. After that, the student can apply for certification by completing the ARDMS exams.
The program is CAAHEP-accredited.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Overview:
  • Location: 4301 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72205
  • Type of School: Public
  • Annual Tuition: $16,505 resident; $32,590 non-resident (per semester)
  • Admissions rate: 70%
  • Undergrad tuition in state: $33,010
  • Undergrad tuition out of state: $65,180
  • Total online bachelor’s Program: 5

4.University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center

The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences has a Diagnostic Medical Sonography program under the School of Allied Health Sciences. The program trains students in abdominal, OB/GYN, echocardiography, vascular, and small parts sonography.
By graduation, students have the knowledge to identify pathologies, use diagnostic equipment, and correctly report results. The students are eligible for the ARDMS exams and can take them 2 months before graduation.
The program is accredited by the CAAHEP.
The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Overview:
  • Location: 1100 N. Lindsay, Oklahoma City, OK 73104
  • Type of School: Public
  • Annual Tuition: $6,608 (resident) $15,143 (non-resident)
  • Admissions rate: 15%
  • Undergrad tuition in state: $7,966
  • Undergrad tuition out of state: $24,731
  • Total online bachelor’s Program: Numerous

5.Ohio State University-Main Campus

The Ohio State University has a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences and Therapy with three distinct tracks, including Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
The course offers theory and clinical practice aspects to use diagnostic equipment, plus other adjunct courses relevant to sonography professionals, like management skills, health informatics, and research.
Graduates can apply for certification exams with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), or the State of Ohio’s Radiographer Licensing Examination.
The program is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology.
The Ohio State University Overview
  • Location: 110 Enarson Hall 154 West 12th Avenue Columbus, OH 43210
  • Type of School: Public
  • Annual Tuition: $31,230 (resident) $30,996 (non-resident)
  • Admissions rate: 53%
  • Undergrad tuition in state: $12,859
  • Undergrad tuition out of state: $36,722
  • Total online bachelor’s Program: 4

6.Rutgers University-Newark

The Rutgers University-Newark B.S. in Diagnostic Medical Sonography is a 15-month program focusing on coursework and clinical practicum in abdominal, gynecological, neonatal, OB/GYN, and neuro sonography. Graduates gain skills in creating diagnostic images for proper patient diagnosis and treatment.
The program is CAAHEP-Accredited.
The Rutgers University-Newark Overview:
  • Location: 195 University Ave, Newark, NJ 07102
  • Type of School: Public
  • Annual Tuition: $16,586 (resident) $31,646 (non-resident)
  • Admissions rate: 77%
  • Undergrad tuition in state: $16,586
  • Undergrad tuition out of state: $35,348
  • Total online bachelor’s Program: Numerous

FAQs

  1. How Much Does It Cost to Become an Ultrasound Technician?
    The cost of becoming an ultrasound technician varies based on the type of course and the tuition rates at the college or university you attend. From the good colleges for ultrasound technician reviewed in this article, the cost is between $7,966 for in-state and $65,180 for out-of-state students.
  2. How Long Does It Take to Become an Ultrasound Tech?
    Becoming an ultrasound tech can take between 1 year for certificate programs and 4 years for Bachelor's Degrees. Additional time may be required for accreditation and certification exams.
  3. How Hard Is It to Become an Ultrasound Tech?
    To be admitted to the ultrasound technician course, candidates must have a high school diploma or GED certificate and obtain the minimum requirement set by the institution. Some colleges and universities also require you to pass the SAT or ACT.

Concluding Thoughts

The answer to how to become an ultrasound technician is varied. Generally, though, you need a high school or GED certificate to be eligible for admission to the best colleges for ultrasound tech. Then you have to choose between certificate and degree courses, which take different times to complete.
We just gave you 6 of the good colleges for ultrasound technicians in the US. They are a great place to start the pursuit of your dream career.
Article by
Charles M. Carlsen
Hello! I'm Charles, As co-founder of Drsono, I contribute to the DRSONO blog, providing valuable insights and up-to-date information on ultrasound technology and diagnostic imaging.

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