Diagnostic medical sonography is an occupation where there is no
preferred level of education and several avenues of education are widely
accepted by employers. Although no level of education is preferred,
employers do prefer sonographers who trained in accredited programs and
who are registered.
Sonographers may train in hospitals, vocational-technical institutions,
colleges and universities, and the Armed Forces. Some training programs
prefer applicants with a background in science or experience in other
health care professions.
Colleges and universities offer formal training in both 2- and 4-year
programs, culminating in an associate or a bachelor's degree. Two-year
programs are most prevalent. Course work includes classes in anatomy,
physiology, instrumentation, basic physics, patient care, and medical
A few 1-year programs that may result in a certificate also are accepted
as proper education by employers. These programs typically are
satisfactory education for workers already in health care who seek to
increase their marketability by training in sonography. These programs
are not accredited.
The Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredits
training programs in this field. These programs typically are the
formal training programs offered by colleges and universities. Some
hospital programs are accredited as well.
need good communication and interpersonal skills because they must be
able to explain technical procedures and results to their patients, some
of whom may be nervous about the exam or the problems it may reveal.
Good hand-eye coordination is particularly important to obtaining
quality images. It is also important that sonographers enjoy learning
because continuing education is the key to sonographers staying abreast
of the ever-changing field of diagnostic medicine. A background in
mathematics and science is helpful for sonographers as well.
Although no State requires licensure in diagnostic medical sonography,
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 education
hours to maintain registration with the ARDMS and to stay abreast of
technological advancements related to the occupation.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.