How to choose your ultrasound training program? There are many factors that you should consider including length and scope of an ultrasound program and cost ranges for programs.
Length and Scope of an Ultrasound Training Program
There are three types of diagnostic medical sonography programs, including certificate programs, associate degrees and bachelor degrees.
One-Year Certificate Program
As mentioned in Step 1: Major Education Requirements, students with prior qualifications and clinical experience in related healthcare fields can get basic ultrasound college training via one-year certificate programs offered at community colleges, career colleges, training schools and online ultrasound tech schools. These sonography programs assume students have already completed many necessary prerequisites in sciences, mathematics, communication and similar subjects in addition to having a clinical healthcare background. Certificate programs are commonly used to provide ultrasound training for nurse practitioners and other interested in branching out to diagnostic medical sonography.
Find out if there is any ultrasond training school offering a certificate program in your area.
Two-Year Associates Degree and Four-Year Bachelors Degree
For those entering sonography without a healthcare background, the choices include a variety of two- and four-year programs offered by colleges and universities throughout North America. Two-year ultrasound programs lead to an associate degree and are available through community colleges, career and online schools, and some four-year colleges and universities. Associate degrees normally take two full years to complete; however, many students take longer in order to balance their studies with work and family responsibilities.
Associate degrees are designed to lead to accreditation and entry into the ultrasound job market. They can also serve as the foundation for further studies because some four-year programs allow associate degree students to transfer credits and complete a full bachelor’s degree in sonography. If this option is of interest to you, be certain that the two-year program you choose has a satisfactory student transfer rate and that the four-year colleges you’re interested in accept transfer credits from your associate program.
For many ultrasound technicians, an associate degree followed by professional certification is fully sufficient to engage in a satisfying hands-on career in sonography. Accrediting agencies for diagnostic medical sonography schools ensure that high standards acceptable to employers are maintained in all programs regardless of length. However, some students are interested in further specialization or advancing to positions of greater responsibility such as running an ultrasound department, teaching ultrasound courses or perhaps going on to medical school. For these individuals, a four-year bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography is the appropriate option. Both public and private universities as well as many colleges and online schools offer four-year sonography programs. These programs typically provide more extensive coursework and training in specialties such as vascular and obstetrical-gynecological ultrasound and incorporate clinical rotations in the curriculum.
A list of associates degree programs and bachelors degree programs accredited by CAAHEP is available at this Accredited Ultrasound Technician Schools Directory in 2016.
The decision whether to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree involves weighing career aspirations against the cost and time commitment required by each type of program.
For most students, a two-year ultrasound technician degree is the preferred choice to prepare them to earn a good salary working in this field. Tuition rates vary widely depending on the school, but students can expect to pay anywhere from $70 to $600 per credit in addition to program fees, room and board if applicable, and books.
Attending an in-district community college or an online school are the least expensive options followed by in-state public universities that may cost as little as $3500 for two years of tuition. For out-of-state public universities, the total tuition rises to $12,000 or more, while technical schools and private universities and colleges can cost in excess of $20,000.
Before enrolling in any ultrasound training program, be sure to verify the current tuition and fee expenses as many institutions change these yearly. Even with more expensive schools, however, the cost of an associate degree in sonography is generally a good investment relative to the earning potential students will enjoy once they graduate and become certified. You can apply for scholarships as well. Find out scholarships for diagnostic medical sonography students!