Sonography Degree: Which is right for you–Certificate, Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree?

When you were a kid, your parents naturally took the trouble or, rather say, the responsibility of enrolling you in a good school. But, now, as a high school graduate, you will have to decide things for yourself, which means that, if you are really interested in entering the healthcare field with the title of Diagnostic Medical Sonographer on your head, then it falls upon you to decide what sonography degree program you should choose to enroll at.

As a side note, let me enlighten you with the fact that the ultrasound technician’s career is not only exciting but it is also a lucrative medical profession that has the income potentiality starting from $55000 to over $85000 per annum. With this salary figure in your mind as a factor of motivation, you should dig below to learn about the details and career prospects of the various ultrasound degree programs, which are offered not only by the sonography schools, colleges and universities but also by various healthcare institutions.

Certificate in Diagnostic Sonography:–

Due to the common knowledge that certificate level ultrasound program takes just around 1 year to get completed, the majority of sonographers-wannabes have this desire to enroll in a sonography Certificate program.

Sonography DegreeHowever, the bitter truth about these sonography certificate programs is that they are meant for those people who already have current licensing in an allied healthcare profession like that of Registered Nurses or Radiologic Technologists. So, provided that you are already a licensed healthcare practitioner or have a bachelor’s degree in applied science, then you are qualified enough to seek the Certificate in Sonography.

Brief Details of the Sonography Certificate Program:–

The Sonography certificate program is designed to make the allied healthcare professionals (like RNs) acquainted with the sonography field. This certificate program will teach them the fundamentals of sonography principles and instrumentation.

Being the shortest route to becoming an ultrasound technician, most of the CAAHEP accredited Certificate level sonography programs, which are reputed for providing quality education, have the ultrasound schooling period of about 1 and a half year i.e. just about 18 months.

Besides the core sonography courses like anatomy, physiology, pathology, patient care, ethics and ultrasound physics, the students of the sonography certificate programs would also be introduced to the ultrasound concentration field that they have applied for i.e. either Cardiac, Vascular or General Sonography.

Career Prospects of the Sonography Certificate Holders:–

Upon the completion of this ultrasound certificate level program, the graduated ultrasound techs would be able to pursue higher education such as Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Sonography.

And, in case, you already have current licensing in other healthcare professions like nursing or radiology and have graduated from a CAAHEP (Council for Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs) program, then you would be eligible to challenge the ARDMS certificate exam, getting registered from which will fulfill all the ultrasound technician requirements and make you an employable Ultrasound Technician.

Also, don’t forget that, with the sonography certificate as an additional qualification, you will become a health practitioner with multiple competencies, which is sure to catch the eye of any employers.

How many CAAHEP accredited Sonography certificate programs are there?

As of this year 2012, there are exactly 85 Certificate level sonography programs, which have been favored with the accreditation from the CAAHEP. Also, among these 85 accredited programs, 3 are online sonography Certificate programs.

Bachelor’s Degree in Diagnostic Sonography

If you prefer to have a prospective as well as a lucrative career as an ultrasound technician, then the bachelor’s degree is the right choice for you. After all, the bachelor’s degree, despite the availability of Masters Degree in sonography, is regarded as the highest qualification that an ultrasound technician can possess.

Brief details of the Bachelor’s level Sonography degree program:–

The bachelor’ degree programs, be it concerning either medical or commercial business education, generally have the schooling period of 4 long years; the bachelor’s degree sonography program is not an exception to this popular belief.

Students of the bachelor’s degree certificate program would receive an intensive ultrasound training coursework, which will teach them about the sonography principles and instrumentation in depth.

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In addition to the ultrasound core courses, the students of the bachelor’s degree program would also get to explore the other methods of medical imaging such as the X-rays and radiologic imaging.

Career Prospects of Sonography Bachelor’s degree holders:–  

While the certificate program may seem appealing due to its short-term ultrasound schooling period, you should know that the bachelor’s degree program, albeit having the program length of about 4 years, does also have its usefulness in securing high-salary-paying ultrasound jobs.

In fact, most of the high-paying healthcare institutions have this tendency to employ only those sonographers who have got the bachelor’s degree in their pocket. Also note that the bachelor salary is also higher in comparison to the ultrasound technicians, who have either got Associate’s degree or Certificate in sonography.

How many CAAHEP accredited Sonography bachelor’s degree programs are there?

Right now, there are 24 ultrasound technician schools, which have been favored with the accreditation from the CAAHEP for their bachelor’s degree sonography program.

And, like the sonography certificate programs, bachelor’s degree sonography programs are also available online. However, there are, at present, just 2 online ultrasound technician schools, which have managed to get their bachelor’s degree sonography program accredited by the CAAHEP.

Hence, in total, 26 ultrasound bachelor’s degree programs have received accreditation from the CAAHEP as of this year 2012.

Associate’s Degree in Diagnostic Sonography:–

Since the bachelor’s degree takes about 4 years (which is long) for completion and the sonography certificate programs are, in truth, limited only for the healthcare professionals, the majority of sonogapher-wannabes, therefore, show this trend of getting enrolled in the Associate’s degree sonography programs to receive their ultrasound tech training.

In fact, these associate’s degree are heralded as the most popular and the most common way of shaping one’s career as an Ultrasound Technician.

Brief details of the Associate’s degree program in Sonography:–

The associate’s degree sonography program is neither long like the bachelor’s degree sonography program nor is it too short like the sonography Certificate program. The associate’s degree sonography programs, in fact, last only for about 2 years, which, as I said earlier, is neither long nor too short and thus are acclaimed as the best college education programs for pursuing the ultrasound degree.

Cross sectional anatomy, psychology, ultrasound physics as well as other such core sonography courses would come up during the associate’s degree program’s classes. And, of course, the students would also get to explore sonography courses concerning the ultrasound field that they have chosen to specialize in i.e. Cardiac, Vascular or General Sonography.

Like the bachelor’s degree program, the associate’s degree sonography programs also provide plentiful of clinical hands-on skill training to the ambitious ultrasound students.

Career prospects of the Sonography Associate’s degree holders:–

With the associate degree in their pockets, the ultrasound technicians would then be welcomed to take the ARDMS exam and get registered, after which they would be qualified to seek entry-level ultrasound jobs in the hospitals, doctor’s offices and ultrasound facilities.

On the other hand, if you are thinking of applying to a bachelor’s degree sonography program, then your associate’s degree, if it has been earned through a CAAHEP accredited program, would certainly help to ease this transition.

This is so because, while applying for the bachelor’s degree program, you will have the facility to transfer credits earned through your associate’s degree sonography program, as a result of which you will have the choice to waive off the ultrasound courses that you have already completed in your previous ultrasound program.

How many CAAHEP accredited Sonography associate’s degree programs are there?

Owing to the popularity of the Associate’s degree as the most common qualification for pursuing the title of an ultrasound technician, the CAAHEP has, up to this date, bestowed accreditation to 110 ultrasound technician schools for their associate’s level sonography degree program.

However, only 2 online ultrasound schools (included among the 110 schools) have managed to be favored with the accreditation from the CAAHEP for their associate’s degree sonography program.

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