Best Ultrasound Technician Schools 2021

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An ultrasound technician bachelor’s may take the form of a full, four-year program or a two-year degree completion program designed for associate degree holders. This degree prepares graduates for both specialized medical careers and teaching opportunities at ultrasound technician colleges.

Ultrasound technicians earn a median of $75,920 each year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Few other healthcare disciplines provide comparably high salaries without graduate education. Right now is a great time to consider ultrasound technician schools, as the BLS projects a faster-than-average 17% job growth for diagnostic medical sonographers between 2019 and 2029.

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Concentrations | Tuition | FAQs | Top Ultrasound Technician Programs

What Is Ultrasound Technology?

The use of ultrasound technology in medicine began during World War II. Ultrasounds employ high-frequency sound waves to capture images from inside the body. Because this technique uses no radiation, doctors prefer using ultrasounds to view developing fetuses and perform other types of sensitive diagnostic work.

Ultrasound technicians and sonographers can choose to specialize in a variety of imaging roles. Examples include abdominal sonographers, echocardiographers, vascular technologists, and musculoskeletal sonographers. They commonly work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, medical laboratories, and outpatient care centers.

Ultrasound technicians and sonographers can choose to specialize in a variety of imaging roles.

Sonographers typically need at least a postsecondary certificate or associate degree from an ultrasound tech school. Earning a bachelor’s can improve employment prospects. Ideal job candidates also possess keen interpersonal skills, hand-eye coordination, and a detail-oriented personality.

Looking toward the future, ultrasound technicians enjoy favorable job growth projections. Skilled sonographers will be needed to diagnose medical conditions as the baby-boom generation begins to age.

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Why Go to an Ultrasound Technician School?

Although many sonography jobs require just an associate degree or postsecondary certificate, earning a bachelor’s degree is another great way to become an ultrasound tech. A four-year degree offers more advanced education and training than a one- or two-year program. That extra preparation can improve competitiveness in hiring and on-the-job performance.

Three key benefits of attending ultrasound tech school to earn a obtain a bachelor’s include:

  • Well-rounded Education: Rather than focusing solely on clinical sonography training, a bachelor’s degree requires students to take classes in a variety of disciplines, including the arts, sciences, and humanities. Graduates possess transferable communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
  • Higher Salary Potential: Most employers compensate workers according to their experience and education. A bachelor’s degree may improve your long-term earning potential.
  • Advanced Job Opportunities: Earning a bachelor’s in ultrasound technology enables you to compete for the most desirable sonographer positions in healthcare facilities. You can also use this degree to secure a teaching job in ultrasound technician schools.

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What to Expect From an Ultrasound Technician Program

Ultrasound technician colleges focus on preparing students for successful careers in the field of diagnostic medical sonography. Sonography programs often require coursework that corresponds with relevant professional certification exams.

Bachelor’s degrees in ultrasound technology require a minimum of 120 credits of coursework, though some programs require up to 140 credits. When studying full time, learners typically graduate in four years. Bachelor’s degree completion programs, which supplement associate degrees, take approximately two years of full-time study to complete.

Bachelor’s degrees in ultrasound technology require a minimum of 120 credits of coursework.

Four-year ultrasound technology programs consist of general education, major core courses, electives, and often clinical practice requirements. Some schools offer concentrations in specific areas of sonography.

Admission Requirements

The requirements for getting into an ultrasound tech school vary by institution and program.

In many cases, students first need to gain admittance to the college or university at large, declare a pre-major, and complete specific prerequisites before they can apply to take sonography courses. Similarly, applicants interested in a degree completion program must satisfy prerequisites with an associate degree.

Prospective ultrasound technology students typically need to demonstrate a minimum GPA between 2.5 and 3.0 on prior coursework. Most application packets require official transcripts, letters of reference, and acknowledgement of technical standards regarding sensory, communication, physical, and cognitive abilities.

Learn more about the application process:

Concentration Options

Ultrasound technician colleges offer sonography degrees under several different names. Prospective students researching ultrasound tech school programs should keep their eyes open for bachelor’s degrees in diagnostic medical sonography, radiologic sciences, and imaging sciences.

Degree-seekers who pursue a diagnostic medical sonography degree may get the option to pursue a specialization, depending on the ultrasound tech school they attend. Specialization courses help prepare learners for specific careers within the sonography field. The most common tracks available include:

  • General

    Choosing a general track means completing the degree without a specialization. Instead of taking predetermined specialization courses, students pick their own electives to satisfy credit requirements.

  • Vascular Sonography

    A specialization in vascular sonography prepares graduates for sonography careers focused on diagnosing blood flow disorders. Courses cover vascular anatomy and imaging procedures.

  • Echocardiography

    A specialization in echocardiography or cardiac sonography prepares graduates for careers focused on imaging the heart’s chambers, valves, and vessels. Courses cover introductory and advanced echocardiography concepts, including fetal echocardiography.

Alternatively, aspiring ultrasound technicians may choose to major in radiologic or imaging sciences. These programs frequently offer diagnostic sonography as a concentration, alongside other track options like CT technology, MRI technology, or radiation therapy.

Popular Ultrasound Technician Courses

Earning a bachelor’s degree from an ultrasound tech school requires completing roughly 120 coursework credits. Students take three types of courses: general education, focused on math, sciences, and humanities; the major core, focused on ultrasound technology and healthcare; and concentration or elective courses, which offer degree customization options.

Many sonography degrees culminate with mandatory clinical experience hours at approved healthcare facilities. Take a look at three sample course descriptions detailed below.

  • Cross-Sectional Anatomy

    This common core class provides students with a general overview of cross-sectional anatomy — two-dimensional views of “slices” of the human body, shown perpendicular to the spine. Coursework aids learners in identifying major muscles, organs, bone, and vessels in diagrams, photographs, and images.

  • Sonography Physics and Instrumentation

    This course introduces ultrasound instrumentation, propagation principles, and interactions. Areas of discussion include transducer design, display modes, ultrasound equipment function, and how sound waves interact with different mediums. Students gain a fundamental understanding of ultrasound physics and familiarity with the instruments used for medical ultrasound activities.

  • Clinical Education

    Part-time clinical education courses typically take place during the last two years of a bachelor’s program at an ultrasound tech school. Students in these courses gain hands-on practical experience in routine, basic, and advanced ultrasound procedures under the supervision of clinical faculty and healthcare facility staff.


How Much Will an Ultrasound Technician Bachelor’s Cost?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the annual cost for full-time tuition and fees at public four-year universities averaged $9,212 in 2018-2019. At four-year private nonprofit universities, the same expenses averaged $34,758.

Ultrasound tech school students should also budget for expenses beyond tuition and fees, including medical malpractice insurance.

The exact cost of an ultrasound technician bachelor’s varies based on your state residency, school type, and whether you study online or on campus. Though public universities offer lower per-credit tuition rates, private universities typically do not charge out-of-state students additional, nonresident fees. Online learners can save money by avoiding room, board, and campus facilities fees.

Ultrasound tech school students should also budget for expenses beyond tuition and fees, including textbooks, uniforms, medical malpractice insurance, transportation to clinical education sites, and parking.

Financial aid can help cover the cost of an ultrasound technician college education. Scholarships and grants provide funding that does not require repayment after graduation. Federal, state, and private loans provide funding that accrues interest and requires eventual repayment.


Choosing the Right Ultrasound Technician Undergraduate Program

Our ranked list of the best ultrasound technician schools is a great resource, but choosing the best institution and program for you also requires additional considerations. A few key factors to keep in mind include:

Accreditation
Accreditation ensures that a college or program meets minimum academic quality standards set by a third-party agency. For institutions, regional accreditation is generally considered more prestigious than national accreditation. Ultrasound tech programs may hold additional programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
Available Concentrations
Not all ultrasound technician colleges offer concentrations. If you want to work in cardiac or vascular sonography, consider choosing a program with an applicable specialization track.
Campus Location
Few ultrasound tech degrees can be completed entirely online. You may need to travel to attend regular on-campus sessions and clinical education experiences.
Admission Difficulty
Ultrasound technology colleges often maintain strict admission requirements related to prerequisites, minimum GPAs, and work experience or certification.

What Is Accreditation and Why Does It Matter?

Should You Get Your Degree Online?

According to NCES data, nearly seven million degree-seekers took at least one distance education course in fall 2018. Due to hands-on lab and clinical practice requirements, 100% online bachelor’s degrees in diagnostic sonography are not common. However, some ultrasound technology schools offer hybrid degrees which combine convenient online and on-site courses.

These schools often structure their hybrid options as degree completion programs, meaning incoming students must hold an associate degree in sonography. Some programs also require students to possess professional certification and work experience as an ultrasound tech.

Before committing to a hybrid degree, consider whether online education fits your learning style and home environment. Remote courses often use asynchronous formatting in which students must take initiative to view course materials and complete assignments on time. Online learning also requires regular access to a quiet, distraction-free place to study.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What degree do you need to be an ultrasound tech?

    You can pursue a career in ultrasound technology with a postsecondary certificate or associate degree. However, earning a bachelor’s can boost your hireability, job performance, and salary potential.

  • Is going to an ultrasound tech school worth it?

    Aspiring ultrasound techs need formal education to enter the workforce. Attending ultrasound technician school equips you with the knowledge and skills required to succeed in this in-demand profession.

  • How long does it take to become an ultrasound technician?

    At a minimum, ultrasound techs need to complete a one-year certificate program. Those who choose to earn an associate degree study for two years, while bachelor’s degree seekers study for four years.

  • Is ultrasound tech a degree or certificate?

    Either! Most ultrasound technician jobs require at least a postsecondary certificate and some form of professional certification. However, many ultrasound techs choose to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree.

  • Is ultrasound tech a good career?

    Ultrasound technology can be a great career field. According to the BLS, diagnostic medical sonographers earn a median of $75,920 each year. Few jobs in the healthcare field pay so well with such brief education requirements.

2021’s Best Ultrasound Technician Colleges

  1. University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
    Location

    Oklahoma City, OK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center offers a Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences with a Sonography Specialization. This program is perfect for high school students and non-major college students who wish to pursue a degree as an ultrasound tech.

    Program Features

    This program is accredited by CAAHEP through the JRC-DMS. Once admitted into the program, students will complete a further 68 credit hours in sonography courses and capstone projects. Its graduates are eligible to sit for the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography certification exam. Sample courses include:

    • Advanced Clinical Sonography
    • Problems in Allied Health
    • Ultrasound Physics and Instrumentation

    Notables

    Students who wish to apply to the sonography program at UOHSC will be required to submit proof of 64 credit hours from this university or another regionally accredited school. These courses should satisfy the general education, math, and science pre-requisites as outlined by the department.

  2. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
    Location

    Little Rock, AR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences houses its sonography programs at the College of Health Professions. The programs, which includes both an on-campus and online programs, are designed both for new students and working healthcare professionals. Once a student graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, they will be eligible to sit for both the national and international ARDMS certification programs.

    Program Features

    Students will find that there are a few differences between the on-campus and online BS-DMS programs. The on-campus program is designed for students with no previous work or educational healthcare experience. The on-campus program also only admits students once they’ve completed general education requirements, allowing the students to focus primarily on their sonography studies. On-campus UAMS students are required to complete 120 credit hours and clinicals in order to graduate. Classes include:

    • Sectional Anatomy
    • Gynecologic Sonography
    • Sonographic Applications: Obstetrics

    Notables

    The online degree program is called the Career Ladder B.S. Degree. It is designed for ARDMS-certified sonographers who wish to go back to school and finish their bachelor education. There are no clinical education requirements for this degree, as most students will already be working as sonographers.

  3. Ohio State University
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Ohio State University offers a variety of ultrasound tech schools programs that focuses on the general academic and clinical area of sonography. Students will graduate with Bachelor’s of Science in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences — Sonography Concentration. The school, which is accredited by CAAHEP through JRC-DMS, also prepares students to sit for the ARDMS certification exams.

    Program Features

    Students are required to fulfill general education requirements before applying to the professional program. Courses can either be taken at OSU or another regionally accredited institution, but all sonography courses must be completed on campus. Courses include:

    • Patient Care for the Imaging Professional
    • Introduction to Sonography
    • Small Parts of Human Anatomy

    Notables

    Once accepted into the sonography program, students will finish the required 120 credit hours, practicum, and clinical hours needed for graduation. The professional program runs six semesters concurrently, with a summer term required between a student’s junior and senior year.

  4. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
    Location

    Milwaukee, WI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee offers ultra sound tech students the ability to specialize in two clinical sonography tracks within their programs. The tracks, which are listed under the Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, are in-demand specializations that are continuously in demand by healthcare organizations and hospitals.

    Program Features

    UW-Milwaukee has requirements for students applying to their sonography programs. Typically students must fulfill general education requirements and a variety of math and science courses in order to apply to the program. Additionally, students must also have training as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Students will take courses like:

    • Human Pathophysiology and Ethical Issues in Health Care
    • Allied Health Information Methods
    • Sonographic Technology and Instrumentation

    Notables

    Students who are accepted into the program can choose from two tracks within the DMS program, General or Echocardiography. Both tracks also have a specialization in vascular sonography. Most students choose the latter track specialization, as it allows them to sit for specialty certification exams administered by ARDMS and gives them an advantage in the workforce.

  5. Rutgers University
    Location

    New Brunswick, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Rutgers University offers a top-tier ultrasound school of programs for students who are ambitious and determined to become sonography specialists. The programs, which include three bachelor options and a certificate program, are all accredited by CAAHEP based on the recommendation of the JRC-DMS. Graduates of any of these programs will be eligible to sit for the ARDMS certification exams, and the school currently holds a 100 percent first-time pass rate for these exams.

    Program Features

    Rutgers University might be the only school on this list that has a dedicated DMS Professional Curriculum. It is composed of 45 required courses, including clinical practices and can be comfortably completed within 18 months. Sample courses include:

    • Introduction to Noninvasive Vascular Testing
    • Critique and Clinical Correlation
    • Patient Care for the Imaging Professional

    Notables

    While there are various options for students at Rutgers, it is important to remember that the professional curriculum requirements are the same no matter what option is chosen. The only differences come in the pre-requisites. Students who are interested in any option are encouraged to call a Rutgers advisor to see what program will fit their needs best.

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