Are sonography trade school degrees as respected as sonography degrees from universities? Many factors come into play when applying for a Diagnostic Medical Sonography position. They include the type of sonography degrees held in the job applicant pool, employer minimum job requirements, and many others. However, the bottom line is this: Schools for ultrasound tech being considered should have a CAAHEP accredited Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. The degree will be well-respected by employers because the schools offer ultrasound courses that prepare students to enter the industry with a full range of imaging and patient skills.
First or Last in Consideration?
Look through the list of CAAHEP accredited ultrasound technician schools by state and notice the great variety of schools, locations and degrees. Select any degree and any school from the list. The student is assured of getting a quality education and will be ready to take the ARDMS exams for registration upon graduation. When students are selecting a program, the ultimate goal is to graduate with a degree that will qualify them as strong job applicants.
A common question sonography students have goes like this: Is a degree from a technical school as well respected as a degree from a university? Here is another way to phrase the question: Will employers consider job applicants with university degrees first and job applicants with technical school degrees last? The answer depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the position. Factors include:
- Mix of degrees making up the job applicant pool
- Amount of salary and benefits the employer can afford to pay because people with bachelor’s degrees from universities tend to initially earn more than people with associate degrees
- Work experience can easily level the playing field
- CAAHEP accreditation is almost always an employer requirement
Someone with a Bachelor’s Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography who did not complete a CAAHEP accredited program is not likely to be considered for the job. The applicants holding a certificate or degree from any of the CAAHEP accredited ultrasound programs will be placed high on the list.
Advantages of a Technical School
Technical schools, also called trade schools or vocational schools, are higher education institutions that offer specialized training. The schools for ultrasound tech students are designed to teach specific skills so the student can get into the workforce as quickly as possible and ready to go to work. The associate and bachelor’s degrees teach the same skills, but the education is broader. Students must complete liberal arts courses as well as the sonography curriculum.
There are advantages to attending a technical school, depending on the student’s circumstances:
- Fast track education without skimping on quality
- Tuition and fees are often less than university rates
- Quicker entry into the workforce, important for students who need to generate income as quickly as possible
- Frequently gives access to state of-the-art equipment
- High level emphasis on practical ultrasound technology skills while also requiring some liberal arts courses like communication
- Some offer degree transfer programs so students can easily return to school at a later date to earn a bachelor’s degree
- Have the opportunity to attend a technical school offering an associate degree, certificate or diploma
As long as the technical school’s sonography program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, the student is assured of being prepared to take the ARDMS exams and of getting a quality education. ARDMS registration and quality training are two of the main credentials an employer will look for on a job application.
Spotting Schools for Ultrasound Tech Students
Some technical schools are fairly easy to spot on a list of schools. The name of the school has words in the title like “institute” or “technical. For example, the Great Lakes Institute of Technology, and the Delaware Technical and Community College are two such schools. Technical schools that offer associate degrees and/or certificate programs are usually called community colleges, indicating a mix of trade school and academic programs that take up to two years to complete.
If the word “community” is missing in the college name, the school probably offers everything from a bachelor’s degree to a certificate. Platt College in Alhambra, CA, is not called a community college since it offers associate degrees, bachelor degrees, and non-degree programs. Sonography students can earn an Associate Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography at several campuses in Ontario, Alhambra and Riverside. However, only the Associates Degree in Alhambra is accredited by the CAAHEP.
There is a choice of ultrasound technician schools in Houston so students can stay in the same area, choose the preferred degree and apply to the program that best meets their needs. The same is true for the ultrasound technician schools in Chicago and many other larger cities. If the right program is not available in the local area, Jackson College has a technical school sonography program that is online, making it convenient for all students.
There are students concerned that employers do not respect a degree from a technical school as much as a degree from a college or university. It is impossible to say every employer does not differentiate between the types of school attended. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that all employers will place the ARDMS registered sonographer who graduated from a CAAHEP accredited program ahead of those who did not. Universities are not the ideal choice for all students which is precisely why there are schools for ultrasound techs that do not require four years of attendance.