Accredited sonography programs prepare students to work as diagnostic medical sonographers. Diagnostic medical sonographers use imaging equipment to perform ultrasounds, sonograms and echocardiograms on patients using imagining equipment that directs high-frequency sound waves into a patient’s body. Sonographers analyze these images and assist physicians by providing preliminary findings.
Most diagnostic medical sonographers work full-time jobs, and many work evenings and weekends. Sonographers must be able to work on their feet for long hours, assist patients and move heavy equipment.
Associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree and certificate programs are available in sonography. Coursework generally includes clinical training. Some programs offer specialization in a certain field.
Licensing laws for sonographers vary depending on state, but few states require professional certification or licensure. However, certification can help sonographers become more marketable. In order to sit for a licensing or certification examination, most states require students to graduate from an accredited sonography program.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as an accrediting agency for health science programs.
There are currently more than 2,100 CHEA-accredited health science programs in more than 20 different professions. The CHEA has different nationally recognized standards for each profession.
The CAAHEP Board of Directors is the accrediting body of CAAHEP. The accreditation process involves a formal request, a self-study document, and an on-site review. The Board awards accreditation status after receiving recommendation from the Committees on Accreditation.
There are three schools offering CAAHEP-accredited online sonography programs: Washburn University, Jackson College and University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
Washburn University, a public co-educational institute located in Kansas, offers accredited certificate and baccalaureate sonography programs in three different concentrations:
Jackson College, a community college in Michigan, offers an accredited undergraduate sonography degree program in three concentrations:
University of Milwaukee, an urban research university, offers an accredited baccalaureate program in four concentrations:
The field of sonography is currently evolving, which is good news for graduates of accredited sonography programs. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of diagnostic medical sonographers is projected to grow by 44% from 2010 to 2020, which is much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. There were 53,700 diagnostic medical sonographers in 2010.
In 2010, about 61% of sonographers were employed by hospitals. Sonographers can also work in physician’s offices, laboratories and outpatient centers. Salary for sonographers varies and depends on specialization and place of employment. The median annual salary for diagnostic medical sonographers was $64,380 in 2010.
The following resources offer more information about sonography careers and accredited sonography programs: