What Degree Do You Need to Be an Ultrasound Technician?

Considering a career in ultrasound? Here’s what you need to know about the educational requirements for this growing field.

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Educational requirements

While some ultrasound technician programs may only require a high school diploma or equivalent, most employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed an accredited program and earned either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography.

Accredited programs typically include both didactic coursework and clinical training in diagnostic medical sonography. Didactic coursework covers topics such as anatomy, physiology, medical ethics and patient care. Clinical training allows students to gain hands-on experience working with patients and using ultrasound equipment.

Most accredited programs take 2-4 years to complete, depending on the level of degree earned. After completing an accredited program, graduates must then obtain certification from the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Once certified, technicians can use the credentials R.D.M.S (Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer), R.N.C.S.T (Registered Nurse Certified in Sonographic Technology) or S.T (Sonographer Technologist).

Types of programs

There are two types of programs that students can enter in order to become an ultrasound technician The first type of program is an associate’s degree, and the second type of program is a certificate. Both types of programs will prepare students for the ARDMS certification exam.

An associate’s degree program will take two years to complete, and a certificate program will take one year to complete. Associate’s degree programs are typically more expensive than certificate programs, but they offer more coursework and prepare students for a management role within the field.

If you’re considering becoming an ultrasound technician, it’s important to research the different types of programs available so that you can choose the one that best fits your needs.

Admission requirements

In order to become an ultrasound technician, you must first complete a postsecondary education program in diagnostic medical sonography. These programs are typically offered at the certificate, diploma, and associate’s degree levels and can be found at many community colleges and technical schools across the country.

Admission requirements for these programs vary, but most will require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some programs may also require that you complete prerequisite coursework in anatomy and physiology, math, and other health-related subjects before beginning your studies in diagnostic medical sonography.

Once you’ve been admitted to a program, you can expect to take courses such as physics, introduction to diagnostic medical sonography, cross-sectional anatomy, abdominal sonography, obstetric and gynecologic sonography, and principles of instrumentation. Most programs will also include clinical rotations in which you’ll gain hands-on experience performing ultrasounds under the supervision of a licensed ultrasound technologist.


While there is no one specific degree that you need to be an ultrasound technician, most employers prefer to hire those who have completed an accredited program in diagnostic medical sonography. These programs typically take two to four years to complete and include coursework in anatomy, physiology, algebra, trigonometry and general physics. Many programs also require hands-on clinical training in order to give students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world situations.


An externship is not always a requirement to become an ultrasound technician, but many students find them to be very beneficial. Many schools will offer externships as part of their curriculum, or you may be able to find one on your own. During an externship, you will have the chance to shadow experienced technicians and learn about the day-to-day aspects of the job. This can give you a better idea of whether or not this is the right career for you.


To work as an ultrasound technician, you will need to be licensed in the state in which you plan to practice. The requirements for licensure vary from state to state, but most states require ultrasound technicians to complete an accredited training program and pass a licensure exam. Some states may also require continuing education to maintain licensure.


In order to become an ultrasound technician, you will need to earn a certificate or degree from an accredited sonography program. These programs are typically offered at the associate’s degree level, although some certificate programs may be available. It is important to make sure that any program you are considering is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

Once you have completed an accredited program, you will then need to pass a national certification exam in order to become a Registered diagnostic medical sonographer (RDMS). After passing the exam, you will need to maintain your certification by completing continuing education credits on a regular basis.

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