Sonographer schools include training in hospitals, vocational-technical institutions, colleges, community colleges, universities, the Armed Forces and online sonographer schools. High school preparation should include science, math and health courses.
Sonographer school can take from one to four years depending on the program and certification chosen. Online sonography schools exist but the clinical training portion must be satisfied on-site. Prerequisites vary among programs from high school GED to background in science and other health care fields. For additional information on online sonography schools click here.
Associate or bachelor’s sonography degrees are offered in both 2- and 4-year programs. Two-year sonographer programs are the most common. A sonography education includes study in anatomy, physiology, instrumentation, basic physics, patient care, and medical ethics. A few 1-year programs that may result in a sonography certificate also are accepted as proper education by some employers. According to O*Net Online, 42% of sonographers had an associate's sonography degree, 25 % had a bachelor's degree and the remainder had some college but no degree.
The Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredited 217 training programs in 2016. Organizations such as the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) certify the skills and knowledge of sonographers through credentialing, including registration.
Because registration provides an independent, objective measure of an individual’s professional standing, many employers prefer to hire registered sonographers. Sonographers registered by the ARDMS are Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (RDMS). Registration with ARDMS requires passing a general physical principles and instrumentation examination, in addition to passing an exam in a specialty such as obstetric and gynecologic sonography, abdominal sonography, or neurosonography.
Sonographers must complete a required number of continuing ultrasound school hours to maintain registration with the ARDMS and to stay abreast of technological advancements related to the occupation.