Upon successfully completing an accredited sonography program of study, a student can become a certified sonographer and receive an ultrasound technician certificate by passing exams administered by certifying organizations.
Ultrasound Technician Certification Through ARDMS
The largest of these ultrasound tech certification entities is the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS), this organization offers candidates the opportunity to earn the Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer, or RDCS, certification to those who pass Sonography Principles and Instrumentation and one of: Adult Echocardiography, Pediatric Echocardiography or Fetal Echocardiography. Those seeking the Registered Vascular Technologist, or RVT, credentials must pass the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation examination as well as one in Vascular Technology. Finally, the ARDMS offers the Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, or RDMS, designation by successfully completing examinations in Sonography Principles and Instrumentation and one of the following: Abdomen, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Neurosonology, Breast Sonography or Fetal Echocardiography.
How to Select an ARDMS Prerequisite for Application?
If you are in the process of applying for sonography certification through ARDMS, you need to select the ARDMS prerequisite for which you are best suited.
This is recommended for applicants who have attended non-CAAHEP accredited sonography programs and wish to apply for ARDMS examinations. The following conditions apply:
- Verification that the program completed was equivalent to 24 consecutive full-time calendar months OR 60 semester credits OR 84 quarter credits
- Completion of a clinical externship or internship
- 12 months’ paid scanning outside the scope of the program
Prerequisite 1 also applies to applicants who have met ARDMS requirements for a two-year allied health program such as x-ray or nursing AND attended a non-CAAHEP-accredited diagnostic medical sonography or cardiovascular technology program for a minimum of 12 full-time months. If the program was longer than 12 months, it must be completed in its entirety.
Additional requirements for graduates of allied health programs:
- The program must include clinical and didactic elements
- Clinical internship/externship
This applies to applicants who have successfully completed a CAAHEP-accredited ultrasound technician program or cardiovascular technology program. Applicants may also apply under Prerequisite 2 if they have attended a sonography program accredited by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).
This applies to individuals who have a Bachelor Degree in any area other than diagnostic medical sonography or cardiovascular technology AND attended a non-CAAHEP-accredited diagnostic medical sonography or cardiovascular technology program for a minimum of 12 full-time months. If the program was longer than 12 months, it must be completed in its entirety.
- The program must include clinical and didactic hours
- A clinical externship
For list of CAAHEP diagnostic medical sonography or cardiovascular technology programs, please contact CAAHEP at www.caahep.org. Or you can visit School Directory on our website.
Other Certifying Bodies: CCI and ARRT
Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) offers a range of credentials for cardiac technician specialties including cardiac sonography. Ultrasound technician certification requirements include a minimum two years of employment in Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Technology. One year of employment is sufficient with evidence of an associate degree or equivalent in a related health, science, nursing, engineering or similar degree. Six months of relevant employment combined with a relevant bachelor’s degree is also acceptable. Graduates of accredited ultrasound tech programs in Cardiac Medical Sonography can apply for certification directly, but those from non-accredited programs must provide evidence of at least one year of specialty training with 800 or more clinical hours completed in order to be considered.
The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offers certification in Sonography, Vascular Sonography and Breast Sonography. ARRT administers exams consisting of questions on patient care, physical principles of ultrasound, and relevant sonographic procedures and competencies for each certification. AART’s certification requirements include a comprehensive set of educational and ethical requirements for students from accredited and non-accredited programs. Students should note that, beginning in 2016, an associate degree or higher from an accredited institution will be required.
Sonography Certification in Canada: CARDUP
In Canada, the Canadian Association of Registered Diagnostic Ultrasound Professionals (CARDUP) offers exams and credentials along similar lines as the above American organizations. In addition to a core exam on ultrasound physics, techniques and clinical issues, CARDUP administers a Generalist Sonographer exam covering Obstetrics and Gynecological Sonography, Abdominal Sonography, and a section on Superficial Structures, the Musculoskeletal System and the Vascular System. In addition, the association provides certification in Cardiac and Vascular Sonography as specialties.
Employers generally prefer to hire registered and certified sonographers to ensure their employees have adequate education, clinical training and ethical standards. One major purpose of sonography programs is to prepare students to pass ultrasound technician certification requirements that demonstrate their professional competence and open them up to better job opportunities and better pay. For interested students, sample exam questions for sonography certification can be found online at www.ardms.org/prepare_for_an_examination/sample_questions.