How to Learn Sonography

Learning sonography is an important step in becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer, otherwise known as an ultrasound technician. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job growth in this profession to reach 19 percent by 2016, a growth rate that is nearly double than the national average. Diagnostic medical sonographers work with ultrasound machines to gather pictures of internal tissues. An ultrasound machine uses high frequency sound waves to view videos or static images of vital organs. In order to help make patients feel comfortable and provide an accurate diagnostic test for doctors, you need to be trained for at least 2 years in basic health science and specialized sonography subjects. Then, you will need to complete clinical training. Find out how to learn sonography.


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    Receive your high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate. In order to learn about sonography, you need to seek higher education, which is only available after completing the equivalent of a high school education. Focus on physics, biology, information technology, team work and communication while still in high school in order to get a good foundation for your degree.
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    Apply for a diagnostic medical sonography (DMS) degree that is accredited by Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). You should find a 2 or 4 year program that has courses on ultrasound, anatomy, ethics and medical procedures and terminology, as well as a significant portion that includes clinical rotations. Go to and click on the "Find an Accredited Program" tab.
    • Enroll in an associate's degree program. You can gain an associate's degree in applied science by completing a 2-year medical sonography program from a college or community college. This is the most common path to a career in sonography in the United States today.
    • Enroll in a university or college to receive a 4-year bachelor's degree in medical sonography. In addition to courses on anatomy, ultrasound physics and medical terminology, you will be required to take additional health sciences classes. 4 year degrees are longer and typically more expensive than associate's degrees, but they can offer extensive clinical experience.
    • Enroll in a university that offers a Masters Degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, if you have already earned a Bachelor’s degree and completed prerequisite classes. It takes one year to 15 months to complete the sonography program. This option is usually chosen when you want to enter the higher education teaching field, publish in healthcare journals, do research for private or commercial organizations, or work as a consultant. This is the highest degree option in Diagnostic Medical Sonography.
    • Enroll in a certificate program. This type of program can be completed in 1 to 2 years of full time study. In most cases, you must already hold a nursing or other health sciences degree in order to be eligible for a certificate program. Most health professionals gain a certificate in order to learn a new discipline and increase their job prospects.
    • Enroll in a diploma program. If you have already earned an Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree that meets program entrance requirements, enroll in a community college, technical college or a school associated with a medical facility. It takes 12 to 18 months to earn a diploma. This option is often chosen by people who are already working in health care and want to expand their career option by becoming a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer.
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    Complete your prerequisite courses. After enrolling in a program, you may have to complete certain medical or nursing prerequisites to be accepted. Go to a local community college to complete these prerequisites for a lower price than university classes.
    • Prerequisites may include cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification (CPR), algebra, English, biology, anatomy, physiology, information technology, medical terminology, chemistry, physics, communications and medical ethics. Many students take these courses the summer before starting a program; however, if you have a large number of prerequisites, you may need to take a year of college before starting to train in sonography.
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    Complete your coursework. You will learn sonography by completing courses in sonographic anatomy, DMS procedures and applications, pathology, pathophysiology, ultrasound physics, obstetric and gynecological sonography, abdominal sonography, vascular sonography and record keeping.
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    Complete your clinical rotation. Part of learning sonography is practical training, which is overseen by professors and DMS professionals. This may comprise 1 semester to 1 year of your program.
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    Specialize in certain types of sonographic imaging, if this option is available. Take extra courses in vascular, obstetric, cardiovascular, abdominal, neuro or breast sonography in order to be certified in this subject and achieve a better career path. You may be able to command a higher salary by increasing your training at the college level.
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    Become certified by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. Request a booklet to help you study for the certification examination in a variety of sonography specialties. Dedicate at least a month of self-administered study to achieve a passing grade on these examinations.
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    Apply for an entry-level sonography position. Most people who have just completed a sonography degree will need to gain experience in order to complete their training and work independently as a diagnostic medical sonographer. Look for jobs that give promotions and pay raises to sonographers who achieve additional certifications from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.


  • Many associate's and bachelor's degree programs will require you to take the SAT or ACT exam before applying.

Things You'll Need

  • High school diploma/GED
  • Associate's degree in applied science
  • Bachelor's degree in sonography
  • Certificate program in diagnostic medical sonography
  • Clinical rotation
  • American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography certification
  • Prerequisite courses

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