A diagnostic medical sonography certificate prepares entry-level sonographers with the knowledge, skills, and behavior needed to work in the diagnostic imaging industry. Typically lasting 18 months, the certificate program is available to health practitioners as well as those who have an associate or bachelor’s degree in a related area of concentration.
Students enrolled in this program may learn how to perform diagnostic ultrasound examinations in areas, such as abdominal, vascular, gynecological, and obstetrical. Students may also study the physiology, pathophysiology, and anatomy of organ systems, learn the protocols for surveying organs, and provide accurate information to physicians. Most programs include an on-campus lecture and laboratory session as well as an off-campus clinical component.
Coursework & Clinical Internships
Diagnostic medical sonography certificate programs often include prerequisite in-classroom requirements during the program’s first year. Upon completion of these prerequisites, students may then enter the clinical phase of the program. Coursework during that first year may prepare students on how to operate the ultrasound equipment. Students may also complete coursework on sonography relevant to vascular applications, gynecology, obstetrics, superficial structures, and abdominal subjects. Examples of typical core courses may include:
- Medical Pathophysiology
- Sonography Scanning and Techniques
- Sonography and Patient Care
- Clinical Sonography
- Allied Health
Students may obtain certification upon completion of the certificate program, which may help them advance in their careers. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) offers individuals certification in nine specialty areas, including a credential in general sonographic principles and instrumentation. In 2015, ARDMS will offer a certification in pediatric sonography and will discontinue its certification in neurosonology. Another certification program is the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist (ARRT), which certifies sonographers who successfully complete a credentialing test.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for diagnostic medical sonographers are expected to increase by 46% between 2012 and 2022. The BLS also reported that as of May 2013, the median annual salary for diagnostic medical sonographers was $66,400 while the median hourly salary was $31.93. Many ultrasound technicians work in technical careers found at hospitals, clinics, or office settings, and they may work full-time, part-time, on-call, or per diem. In addition to working as technicians, graduates of diagnostic medical sonography certificates may find employment as department supervisors, clinical instructors, and managers once they secure additional experience. Examples of ultrasound career specialties may include the following: