How Much Schooling Does an Ultrasound Tech Need?

Find out how much schooling an ultrasound tech needs and what the job outlook is for this career.

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The Different Types of Ultrasound Programs

The type of schooling you’ll need to become an ultrasound tech will depend on which field you want to go into. If you want to work in a hospital, you’ll need to get a two-year degree from an accredited program. If you want to work in a private clinic, you may only need a one-year certificate.

Certificate Programs

Those who want to become ultrasound techs can choose from certificate, diploma, associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degree programs. Certificate and diploma programs typically take one year or less to complete and offer basic training in diagnostic medical sonography. Associate’s degree programs usually take two years to complete and provide more comprehensive training. Bachelor’s degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography usually take four years to complete and prepare students for management-level positions or for research jobs.

Associate’s Degree Programs

Associate’s degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography usually take about two years to complete and are offered at community colleges and some 4-year colleges. These programs typically include general education courses, such as English and math, in addition to sonography classes and laboratory sessions. Students learn how to operate ultrasound machines, produce images of internal organs and blood flow, and recognize abnormalities. They also gain clinical experience by working in hospitals or other healthcare settings.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

There are a few schools that offer an accredited four-year program leading to a bachelor of science in diagnostic medical sonography. Typically, students complete general education coursework during the first two years of study, and spend the last two years completing clinical rotations and major-specific coursework. Admission to these programs is competitive, and students often need to have completed prerequisites in biology, anatomy, and physics.

What to Expect from an Ultrasound Program

The schooling for ultrasound techs can be completed in as little as two years, making it a shorter investment than some other medical positions. Many programs will offer both an associates and bachelors degree, giving students the opportunity to decide how much schooling they want to receive. During the schooling, students will learn about human anatomy and physiology, medical ethics, and communication.

Classroom Instruction

Classroom Instruction: Most ultrasound technician programs include both classroom and laboratory instruction in addition to clinical experience. Classroom instruction typically covers topics such as medical ethics, patient care and communication, medical terminology, human anatomy and physiology, and basic physics. Many programs also require students to complete general education courses in English composition and mathematics.

Clinical Training

You will participate in clinical rotations during your ultrasound program. Clinical rotations provide you with the opportunity to work with patients and use the skills you have learned in a real-world setting. The number of clinical hours required varies by program, but most students complete between 10 and 20 weeks of clinical training.


Many ultrasound programs will require students to complete an externship in order to graduate. An externship is a hands-on learning experience that takes place outside of the traditional classroom setting. During an externship, students will have the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they have learned in the classroom to a real-world setting. Ultrasound programs typically partner with hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities in order to provide students with externship opportunities. Externships typically last anywhere from 10-12 weeks, and students will usually be expected to work full-time hours during this time.

The Benefits of Earning an Ultrasound Degree

Earning an ultrasound degree can provide many benefits. It can lead to a stable and rewarding career in the medical field. Ultrasound techs play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of various medical conditions. They use their skills and knowledge to provide patients with the best possible care.

Better Job Opportunities

Earning an ultrasound degree can lead to better job opportunities and a higher salary. Ultrasound technicians are in high demand, and this demand is expected to continue to rise in the coming years. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are always in need of qualified ultrasound technicians, so earning an ultrasound degree can help you secure a stable and well-paying job.

Higher Earning Potential

Those who possess a diagnostic medical sonography degree will have much better odds at being hired and will also earn a higher salary. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of diagnostic medical sonographers is expected to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

Improved Patient Care

As technology advances, so does the ability to care for patients. Those who have a higher education in the medical field, such as an ultrasound degree, will be able to utilize the latest and most advanced techniques and technologies available. This, in turn, will result in improved patient care.

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